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223152 tn?1346981971

Pick your blood sucker

Please leave on medical side.

All phlebotomists are not created equal.  I am sure most of you know this.  I have difficult veins and in my more timid days I would sit there, close my eyes and grimace in pain as they dug around in my arm trying to hit the vein.  Oh, it is rolling,  Oh it is deep, Oh, where did it go, Oh I went through it, let me just pull up....stab, stab, stab, stab... and on and on.  Sometimes I would walk out of the lab with my arm hurting and when I removed the wrap, a black and blue mark an inch long.  Sometimes on both arms, as they dug around until they were successful.  Very rarely would a tech ask someone else to draw me – I think it is a badge of honor to succeed.  

I am not timid anymore.  I am almost done with my second round of tx – 48 weeks this time, and 56 weeks last time, and in both rounds my blood levels were low, requiring the weekly CBCs, so I have had lots of time to observe techs and their styles.  At LabCorp where I go every Wednesday at 7:15 AM, I know all the phlebotomists well.  I request the ones I want and tell the person at the front desk definitley not so-and-so.   It was a little embarrassing at first but I don’t have to say a word anymore.  Some just astound me with their expert skill level.  It does make a difference.

Today I had no choice – they were short handed and I was drawn by a new person and I have a nasty black & blue mark.   With one of my favorites, I will have only the tiniest of red spots, not visible as a blood draw a few hours later. I am in the closet at work and don’t like to have noticeable bruises on my arms.

A couple of other tips –
- a butterfly needle is not necessary with a good phlebotomist.  They have no problems with a 22 gauge needle and it does not leave a big mark
-  Do not let them use a cotton ball and a bandaid on your arm.  I prefer the gauze – flat not wadded up – and the stretchy gauze stuff around my entire arm– tight.  The bandaids are too loose in my opinion to prevent bruising.
- If  I don’t know the skill level of the tech, I give them what I know is the easier of my arms.  Sometimes tell them – left arm is hard, right arm is easier – you decide.

The point is, be assertive. It makes a world of difference. Since  I do think good service deserves recognition, I plan on tipping my favorites nicely in 4 weeks when I am finally done with this.  They have helped me immensely on this journey.

frijole (bean)
26 Responses
2059648 tn?1439770265
This is a good post.  I found that you start announcing you have hep c on
the way in and you get a really skilled tech.  At least a really careful one : )
223152 tn?1346981971
Yes, all my techs know I have Hep C -- and they tell me I would not believe how many HIV patients they have too. So they are trained to be very careful.

A few weeks ago I had to have a CAT scan and the tech who came in to put in my IV catheter looked very young.  She asked what vein and I said easy side - hard side - you choose.  She chose easy.  She got the vein okay but she was pretty unskilled and when (I don't know all the technical terms) she unscrewed the top off the catheter in order to put something else in it and my blood came squirting out the end all over.  Down my arm, down the leather chair, on her....  I had to tell her once she got it done to go wash really good because I had Hep C.  You just can't be sure that everyone is careful enough.
Avatar universal
I am almost done with my second round of tx –

This is the part of your post I am most happy about.. Good going bean . Very excited for you !

1654058 tn?1407162666
Yay! you're almost through! I love this post too. I am picky picky picky who they allow to touch my veins. I had the same nurse at transplant hospital and the same lab tech where I got my weekly draw. BUT one week they sent a guy who was a mess. Uh uh. One try and he was out.
It's funny how much we learn about phlebotomy and our own veins, isn't it?
The best one I had was the ambulance driver. No bruise and he hit my worst deep rolling vein on the first try during the bleedout. Those guys are experts too.
How good of you to think of tipping off the newbies. I agree about the gauze pad. Girl, we are twinkies on this one.
Karen :)
766573 tn?1365170066
I had the same experience with a new person at LabCorp. Maybe it was the needle! In fact I even asked the guy if he was using a different needle. I looked longer. It look closer to that real ominous looking one that comes with the Procrit. Other than that  I have had the same two women draw my blood since January.

This is weird but I knew I did not want him to draw my blood. I did not know how to diplomatically ask for the other girl. It was only a CBC so I figured what they hey (or is that hay?)

From what I have seen LabCorp pretty much uses the cotton gauze and the stretchy tape. I think it provides better compression.

When I have my blood drawn at my doctor's office I have the same person too. In fact it has been her since 2007. I gave her a small gift at the end of my treatment last time. I think it is a sweet idea for you to consider them.  They saw you go through all the different phases of treatment. If you think about it they are the one constant you have had all this time.
223152 tn?1346981971
idyllic -- You are right about the constant that the phlebotmists are.  Since I am in the closet, it is nice to be open with them.  I can tell them about my treatment and they tell me their medical issues.  I go to LabCorp the day after the draw and they print me out my lab.  It was hard to get them to do it at first, but now it is a given.  They all know me by name and usually have it waiting for me.  Funny story -- last time we went to Dallas to see the doctor we went to a Rangers game that evening.  The trolley coming back to the hotel after the game was packed and I was standing (wiped out, I might add).  I heard this woman calling my name and it was one of the techs at LabCorp in my town (350 miles away).  She made her hubby get up and give me her seat and we chatted all the way to the hotels.  I will put a note in with her tip that I hope she gets to use the money for another Rangers game.

Girl, we are twinkies on this one.

You crack me up girl. you are special!

will -- I know, I can't believe it myself.  I will do 45 Friday -- breaking open that last month of prescriptions!

One more thought -- what the heck are they giving you with the Procrit?  Do you get vials or prefills?  I use vials and the specialty pharm always sends me 27 ga, 1/2 inch needles, but only one per vial.  I like to use a new needle for my skin so I go to my local pharmacy and get 30ga, 1/2 inch and they are wonderful -- at least as wonderful as giving an injection can me.  My PegIntron prefills already come with 30ga.  The only thing I am stuck with a 27ga on are the prefilled Neupogens.

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