My Morning at the Oncologist.

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?

Nurse: Probably.

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.


Filed under Cancer

11 responses to “My Morning at the Oncologist.

  1. Julie Fisher

    Shoot, Cindy–you probably could have produced more blood and with a lot less pain if you had just scraped your knee on purpose. Or maybe you could have shaved the backs of your ankles–that’s always a good way to bloodlet.
    Anyway, hooray for the good news. Keep that blood count counting the right numbers. You and those Titans!!! Everybody likes a winning streak, don’t we.

  2. Working Woman

    I am so glad you are healthy and I inherited your lovely veins.:)

  3. Mother

    just remember, you are not alone in this family with your tiny little veins – me included – but think of the rich blue blood that runs through them – you are so lucky – and good news re the blood test.

  4. Niece Lash

    Did that rich “blue” blood skip me? The vein size sure did! I can give blood for days.

  5. cindy franklin

    You always make me laugh, even when it is at your painful expense! At which point will your veins get a clean bill of health? Not soon enough! I hopped down to the TV Chefs article and hooted at the memory of Ina Garten….I had recently watched an episode with her pouring and tossing various creams, cheeses, and fats with such great abandon that it stopped me in my tracks. You captured it perfectly! Thanks for the grins!

  6. Older Sister

    Congrats!!! From another mini vein relative.

  7. Little Sister

    Very happy about the good news!I have those awful veins too…Thanks Mom…

  8. Julie Fisher

    (Monday morning.) You can’t fool me. Just because you changed the picture, I can still tell that this is not a new blog offering.

  9. Mother

    I think that is your back yard. very pretty

  10. hereinfranklin

    It is my backyard. Not sure yet if I like or not.

  11. Karen

    Terrific news that you’re clear for another year. From your friend with tiny veins.

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