Being Gang-poked is No Fun

I got gang-poked a couple of weeks ago and went back for more. What the hell am I talking about, you ask?  Well … let me tell you.

My annual check-up. I’ve been seeing the same doctor for the past fifteen years, and the procedure can be summed up in several words—prod, squeeze, and insert. Sometimes there’s even light conversation before insertion.

Along with this, I have to give four vials of blood for other routine tests. I’m a bit of a difficult case when it comes to giving blood. I can only have it taken from my left arm due to surgery that was done on my right. My veins are tiny and not visible on the surface. I also require the “butterfly” needle which the technicians seem reluctant to use. It’s six times more expensive than the big needle and comes in its own individual packaging. I think each clinic must have a quota for how many they can use daily.

The Butterfly (blood) Collector

I’m not squeamish at the sight of blood and have been told I have an abnormally high tolerance for pain. It always takes a few tries to get any blood out of me, so I never expect it’s going to be easy. On that day, two different technicians had already taken their pokes at me, and between them, six butterfly needles had been used without success. That’s when they called in Odette, the “expert.”

Odette turned out to be a large, “take no prisoners” type of woman. She tied two rubber tourniquets above my elbow and secured another one around my wrist. Using two fingers, she aggressively tapped my arm in search of a vein but none came to the surface. Looking to the top of my hand as an alternative, she saw three cotton balls taped to it. That area was no longer fit to be poked.  The other two technicians stood behind her, shaking their heads.

“You are difficult,” she said to me.

“So I’ve been told,” I responded.

I could tell she liked a challenge. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to be on the receiving end of it, but there wasn’t much I could do.

After Odette vigorously rubbed my arm to warm it up, I saw a spark in her eyes. She must have felt something protruding. Could it be that elusive vein?

Quickly swabbing the area, she tore open another butterfly needle and inserted it into my arm. Nothing. Nada. No flow.

“I can feel the vein,” she said, “but this needle is too short.”

She reached for another one.

The big prick

With the butterfly still in my arm,  she inserted the larger needle as well. Nothing. She pulled it out a bit, pushed it back in, moved it around. Still nothing.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Peachy,” I said.

The other two technicians grimaced as they watched their colleague moving the needle inside my arm in a vain attempt to catch a vein.

I walked out of the clinic with my blood intact knowing I’d be a sorry target for vampires. A friend later joked that it was a shame I didn’t enjoy myself after being poked eight times by three different people.

~Fast forward two weeks~

I returned to the clinic yesterday. My arm had healed from the bruising, and I’d learned a few things. To help increase the size of my veins, I drank lots of liquid, ate a big lunch, and took a very hot shower. Basically, I was hydrated, full, and warm—all things I wasn’t the first time around.

The young lady assigned to take my blood looked friendly enough, but the first words she said to me were, “You have invisible veins.” That didn’t impress me, but I tried to remain optimistic. She pulled out the butterfly needle, pricked me once in my hand, and nothing. She called her co-worker who was the lone male who had taken a poke at me two weeks earlier.

“You again,” he said, laughing.

“Ha! Yes, I’m back, reluctantly.”

He proceeded to tell me how sorry he was that Odette had “butchered” me. “If I’d known she was going to stick you with two needles, I wouldn’t have given up on you so easily.”

“No worries,” I said. “I feel lucky today.”

“Yes, so do I.”

“Oh? What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to go deeper this time.”

I chuckled. “Go as deep as you like.”

And he did. With his little prick, he drove in deeper than he ever had, and … and … the blood flowed out of me and flooded the tube—filling the vials almost faster than he could change them.

He looked at me with pride in his eyes. “Are you all right?”

“Yup,” I said. “It’s about bloody time.”




Filed under Revelations & Humor

32 responses to “Being Gang-poked is No Fun

  1. What a woman! Eden you don’t give up and that’s one of the many things I like about you.

    I think I met your nurse. I had a plate put in my left forearm and after it healed the nurse was determinded to make my wrist move like before. I think one can be trained to overlook pain.

    I do hope after all you went through the results were good. You are a badass!


    • Dannie, I agree physical pain can be controlled mentally, but I wouldn’t want to go too far to test that!
      No news is good news, so haven’t heard anything yet – yay!
      Thanks for commenting, sweetie 😉


  2. LOL, during my nursing I became a phlebotomist, and had many patients like you. I had become an expert at between the toes, and the side of the wrists when I had to inject nuclear isotopes as Nuclear Med Nurse. I was often called upon to dig deep or go sideways. 😀

    I worked with many butchers and they made me cringe let alone the poor victim -sorry -patient.


    • Oh, how I wish it was you Glynis who took my blood! I didn’t even know blood suckers had official names. I’ll have to remember that word –“phlebotomist” – I like it!

      Yeah, that nurse went in, out, sideways — it was not pleasant. Thanks for commenting 😉


  3. Eden, I was SO there with you during your ‘torture’! I had to have a few blood tests in my lifetime, and thankfully they did find my veins 🙂 There are some incompetent nurses though – John used to donate blood regularly, but a nurse did it so badly that she gave him a nasty bruise and swollen arm for days that he stopped going!

    You’re such a comic writer and love your timing. I had to laugh on one or two occasions 🙂 I do feel sorry for what you had to go though, but it’s great to see you make something positive out of this unpleasant experience. Well done!


  4. Jason Darrick

    That is quite the ordeal. I’ve had the nurses moving the needle inside my arm before, and whatever they were hitting made me black out, so kudos to you for keeping your feet.

    I can’t get the ‘butterfly vs little prick’ image out of my head, that’s going to keep me chuckling for a while. 🙂


    • Ha! Jason,
      There’s a name for blacking out from blood – it’s called “Vasovagal.” Apparently, many people have it. A friend of mine just experienced it after going to the dentist.

      Yes, all the sexual innuendos spring out at you, don’t they? Hehe 😉


  5. Oh my. I really couldn’t focus on the medical part. (That’s really all I will say on this one.)


  6. OMG I’m snorting I’m laughing so hard… I, unlike you, have ginormous veins though I’ve still had nurses dig around in there like they are mining for gold… love the prick reference… you rock!


  7. OMG! I’m laughing and feeling guilty for doing so. You poor kid!
    With me, the veins are relatively easy to find and the blood flow is good….at first. They get about a quarter tube and suddenly the blood stops flowing. The puzzled looks on their faces is always hilarious.


  8. Scott

    You are classic! Great blog and sorry to hear the trouble you go through to have blood taken. I was waiting for the really juicy stuff and giggled as I got to – I chuckled. “Go as deep as you like.” Then I saw Eden in her fine form right to the end! I can also see you saying once done, “It’s about bloody time.” I hope the arm is healing up well and let me know what your schedule looks like over the next little while, even if after Christmas works better for you, I will be here the 29th & 30th as well, so let me know. Lunch or post work beers!


  9. Scott! Thanks for your comment, and will definitely touch base after the holidays. Have a great one, buddy.


  10. Ken

    I have veins of a junkie so giving blood is never a problem. Your experience sounds like a nightmare, I winced just thinking of her jabbing you and moving the needle around.
    Good to know it finally took a man with a tiny prick to get it out of you.


  11. Hahahahahaaaaa… you’re so great. You can even make a visit to the doc sound sexy. I’m not sure I could handle reading about you going to the dentist. 😉


  12. Hi Eden,
    I’m like the rest, cringing from the thoughts of your pain, while laughing at your creative use of words! Only you could put words together like that! I also put myself through school as a phlebotomist. Good pay and I could work evenings on the weekend and study. I got to be pretty good – I even worked at a drug and alcohol rehab center for a few years. Regardless of how good I was (and I’m familiar with getting blood from a big toe while someone was having a heart attack) I was always apprehensive about people with veins like yours…….but the rule when I was working was 3 tries only. Sending you a big hug for your ordeal!


  13. Barb, you’re so great – and a phlebotomist to boot! Thanks for your wonderful comment. 🙂


  14. Well, I thought my veins were feeble excuses for the genuine article. Your ordeals were so familiar, but at least with mine they always manage (in the end) to find some reluctant little bugger lurking in there among the tendons and stuff which dribbles its offering into the tubes. I’ve had doctors who’ve plunged the needle in then sent it foraging around inside like some remote controlled moon buggy sampling every bit of the interior. Maybe, when they actually get some flowing, they should take a bucketful and keep it in the freezer for future use.


  15. I so rarely have to have medical care… I don’t get sick, but I give blood usually every couple of months or so, so I’m quite used to the kind of work they do with that. For some reason, I tend to bruise up after a blood donation.


    • Mr. Kendall, at last, a face to the name 😉
      I don’t get sick often either, and giving blood is just an annual thing, but it’s always a bit of an ordeal. Good thing I have a high pain threshold.
      Thanks always for your comments.


  16. I am traumatized! One thing for sure… we’ll never have to worry about you high and laying in bed with a needle stinking out your arm.


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