a couple of pricks

This morning I had an appointment for a physical–I’ll write more about the overall examination, and my feelings about a doctor’s visit last month, separately–during which my doctor recommended that I be revaccinated for tetanus and vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B. We also agreed upon some laboratory work for which blood would be needed.

While as a young kid I assured my mother she’d never have to worry about me getting involved with drugs because I 1) couldn’t swallow pills; 2) was allergic to smoke; and 3) was very squeamish about needles, in fact, any sharp or pointed object (my sister used to terrorize me when we were very young by pointing her fork at me; I used to have this fear that somehow I’d end up getting speared in the eye). As a freshman in college, however, when my allergies were diagnosed, I soon got used to a needle, receiving three desensitization shots a week for a couple of years.

Moreover, my veins are easy to see and get a needle into, so I wasn’t particularly concerned or nervous about the shots or the need to fill a few vials for labwork. And, indeed, while I did feel the tetanus shot a little, the nurse who delivered the hepatitis shots did so with such skill that I couldn’t even feel the needle or the serum going in.

However, I wasn’t so lucky with the phlebotomist, who may just have been the worst such I’ve ever encountered. I should have been warned when in an attempt to throw the cap of the syringe into the trash she accidentally bounced it off my head. To be fair, the first stick in my right arm went fine, and she drew two vials of blood quickly and easily. After she finished, though, and was about to send me to the restroom to provide a urine sample, she realized that she’d missed seeing one additional test on the lab paperwork, and that she’d have to stick me again. She decided to take it from my other arm, and I don’t know what she did, but I’ve never felt such pain from having my blood drawn, not just from the stick but during the entire draw, which took much longer for some reason. In fact, even after she removed the needle, my arm continued to hurt and even started to feel numb for a couple of minutes.

Much to my surprise, at least, I didn’t end up with a bruise on that arm, and she did apologize (maybe my little yelp and full body shudder clued her in), but still, not fun. Ouch! It’s interesting how any number of good experiences can be overshadowed by one bad; I find myself hoping that next time I need blood drawn, she won’t be there, and feeling a little queasy now just writing about it–when I got to the point to writing about the second stick, in fact, I had to stand up and walk around a few seconds before finishing this entry, and my arm began to tingle again sympathetically–whereas before I’d accepted the procedure with no apprehension and even a little interest, always watching the needle stick and the entire draw with some fascination.