Most women have a gynecologist. Not me. I have an oncologist thanks to a pas de deux with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a few years ago. I’ve been cancer-free since 2002, but I still have to see my doctor once a year. And that’s ok because it’s reassuring to hear that you’re healthy with no signs of disease. But for the doctor to come to that conclusion, he has to see my blood counts.
You know that old saying “you can’t get blood out of a turnip?” Well, you can’t get blood out of my arm either. I have veins the size of angel hair pasta.
The first nurse was new. “Good luck” I said as she tied on the tourniquet. She didn’t even try. “You take her,” she said, unceremoniously dumping me like a bad prom date.
The second nurse starting rubbing my arm. Then she was tapping it. She thought she’d found something and got out the teeny tiny needle suitable for lab rat s or unborn baby chickens.
Now if you’re one of those people who has veins the size of fettuccine right under the skin…the kind you could go after with a turkey baster, then you have no idea what it feels like when they’re searching for veins like mine. The needle moves this way and that…in and out of muscle…poking here and there. Knocking around all the corpuscles and tendons and whatever else flora and fauna lives under my skin. After a few minutes of this, she gave up. I thought I was home free as she walked over the cabinet and took something out.
Silly me, I thought she was getting me a valium as a reward for not crying. (Sort of a grown up lollipop.) Instead I got a hand warmer slapped on my inner arm. Heat to make my veins swell up.
I knew what that meant…the lower they dig around on your arm, the more it hurts. Again she starts looking. Tap tap tapping on my wrist and the back of my hand. The doctor comes in to chat and she keeps looking. I try to keep my eyes averted and then she tells me she’s ready to stick me again. In between the knuckles of my ring finger and pinkie.
“How about a pass?” I beg the doctor. “We probably don’t really need her blood,” he says. “Oh no,” the nurse says…”I can get it, it’s just going to hurt.”
The needle goes in. The doctor goes white and leaves the room. And can I just say that it did hurt. It hurt almost as much as a bone marrow biopsy and that involves drilling into your hip without anesthesia.
Me: Is that my bone you’re hitting?
Me: Is the blood coming out?
Nurse: Mmmm, a little.
Me: Are you done?
Nurse: Not yet.
Me: Are you done now?
Nurse: Not yet.
But finally she had the couple of tablespoons she needed.
According to the doctor, my counts were off the charts good, so it was worth it. And I don’t have to do that again until 2009. I just hope my hand quits hurting before then.