venous chasing

"Honey, I knew you was gonna be trouble the moment you walked in and told us your veins rolled.""But they do."

"Mmm-hmm. You were right about that."

* * * * *

I've been out of the habit of giving blood lately. I was a regular back in college, but the life changes involved in graduating, getting married, and moving to a new state upset a lot of my habits, giving blood among them. Not a real excuse, but it happened.

When I started doing it again recently, I decided to keep my mouth shut and trust the phlebotomist. The episode of venous chasing that resulted was distinctly unpleasant, and left me with a nice, fat bruise on the inside of my arm. Since then, I've spoken up every time.

They laugh at me until the first stick, and every time, it's the same thing. A sudden widening of the eyes, a widening that has a dual reading: a simultaneous drop in confidence and a sudden realization that the woman on the odd little reclining couch might've been serious, after all.

I even tell them where to hit it. "If you look, you can see a scar there. From your point of view, it's just to the left of the scar. Trust that, give it a second to settle back in after you jab it, and it'll be there."

They believe me now.

I got not one, but two, experiences with needle-sticks today, because I went in to try something new—donating platelets. That's me, taking the niceness-to-humanity angle of donating blood and upping it by an hour and an extra needle.

You get a lot of time to sass the nurses when you're sitting there for an hour with needles in both arms. My left arm was grafted onto a sinuous catheter that led to a rather ominous machine. I quickly nicknamed it SpinnyClicky for its propensity to complain when I didn't bleed as fast as it liked. From the machine, another tube snaked behind my back and dumped its purplish-red contents back into my arm. My blood, minus some plasma and platelets.

I don't think I hate needles, but I'm certainly not going to cozy up with them anytime soon.

Thirty minutes into my donation, when the plasma bag was half full, one of the phlebotomists came up to me and teased me by way of an apology. "What you said helped, you know. Some people just come in here and squinch up their faces and whine like you wouldn't believe."

"Oh, so I avoided being whiny?"

"Yep! What you said was just a statement of fact. But when you come in here next time, we're gonna remember you, and we know you're a troublemaker."

"Oh, so what are you gonna do to punish me, stick me with needles in both arms?"

"We just might!"

I'm scheduled for another platelet donation two weeks from today. If nothing else but to sass the nurses. I have to get in practice for dragon*con, you know.


I was diagnosed w/ anemia way back in the 90s, and thank god for that, bc now I have a good excuse to avoid giving blood. Otherwise I'd have to fall back on the fact that getting at my blood is far more trouble than it's worth, like getting at the gold in seawater. If you hooked me up to needles for an hour, you'd have to spend a lot of money on valium beforehand (to get me to hold still) and whatever the modern equivalent of smelling salts is afterward, to get me to regain consciousness again.