Wherein I Am the Turnip

I don’t know who first coined the expression “you can’t get blood out of a turnip,” but I suspect that that person had veins just like mine.

Veins the size of the filament in a lightbulb.

Veins the size of a single strand of hair.

Veins that make a cat’s whisker look like thick and robust in comparison.

In short, veins with as much blood in them as, well, your average turnip.

Last week I had my annual visit to the oncologist. If you read last year’s account, you know that my yearly bloodletting is not pleasant. However, to make sure that my little white blood cells and my little red blood cells are still playing nicely with one another, my blood must be drawn.

I walked into the room of needles and took my seat. The phlebotomist laughed when she saw me.

This is a woman who does nothing but draw blood out of current or post-cancer patients all day long. It’s gotta be at least 65 a week. At least 3,000 a year. And after looking at all that blood and searching for all those veins, mine are the ones she remembers.

“Oh, we had to poke you in the knuckles last year.”

“Yes,” I tell her. “I’m just now getting over that trauma.”

She wraps the giant rubber tourniquet around my arm and starts tap tap tapping on my inner elbow. Tap tap tap. She doesn’t look for long. She turns my arm over and starts look along the oh-so-tender, oh-so-white underside of my arm. She moves down to my hand.

Another phlebotomist comes in and starts checking out my other arm. A third woman joins us and now I have three technicians searching for veins.

Tap, tap, tap.

The doctor comes in, no doubt wondering why a good part of his staff is gathered around one patient.

They finally think they’ve found a winner.

You know, the pain that comes from having blood drawn isn’t in the actual insertion of the needle…it’s the poking around once the needle is under the skin. Finally she gets a little blood to flow. She orders me to relax and coaxes the red goodness from my body. Then she sighs and withdraws the needle. She had, what appeared to me, to be plenty of blood in the little tube, but she just tossed it in the toxic waste container.

And then, when I wasn’t looking, she grabbed my finger and jabbed a giant staple in it and started squeezing.

Yes, they actually had to SQUEEZE the blood out of my finger and scrape each precious drop into a tube.

Squeeze. Scrape. Squeeze. Scrape.

I heard that leeches are making a comeback. I might need some this time next year.


Filed under At Home, Cancer

8 responses to “Wherein I Am the Turnip

  1. My wife’s veins are so fine that when they draw blood they have to use pediatric needles and it usually results in her passing her out. I keep telling the medical community that it’s tough to tap vampire veins but they don’t listen to me.

  2. ouch. here’s to happy blood cells… but ouch… i’m lucky. the phlebotomists tell me i have the veins of a junkie…

  3. Julie Fisher

    Forget the leeches. I think you’re going to have to hire a vampire. Anyway, vampires are the latest thing.

  4. I have excellent veins, and you would think that made the blood-letting easier. Nope. Just an excuse to blow through them instead. Once in the hospital, after an abdominal surgery, the blood guy came to collect and before he got started I blurted out “I have very good veins”. He looked at me and laughed and said, “The only people who tell me that are the ones who have had bad experiences with blood draws.” He was damned correct.

    As for The Unbearable Banishment’s comment, can you request pediatric needles to see if it will help?

  5. Oh, you’ve made me squirm and gasp with discomfort. Thank god I’ve got chubby veins. x

  6. UB–I’ve never passed out, but I have said a bad word or two.
    DF–Husband’s veins are similar. Huge–I could tap them myself with a turkey baster.
    Julie–Yes, but I’m scared of vampires. And zombies.
    NATUI–Trust me…the needles they use on me are microscopic.
    Ellie–My veins are the only part of me that isn’t chubby. Except for my hair, of course.

  7. yes, all squirmy over here. I HATE getting my blood drawn.

  8. I have the same veins, or lack thereof. I once had a nurse call in the other nurses to offer up a prayer to Jesus before she jabbed me. Four times she poked, then she tried to pediatric needle and poked again. She continued to cry out for Jesus to help her while she massacred my arm.

    I feel your pain.

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