Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blood and Tears

You may be hard pressed to come up with something even more fun than getting a pap smear and autopsy results.  In an effort to max out the fun of the week, I decided to get my blood drawn.

Yay!  Needles!

I had sworn I was no longer afraid of needles.  When I was still in the hospital, I'd had my blood drawn for a few tests and it didn't faze me at all.  I was fearless.

I recently wrote to a friend that losing Eliza made me both fearless and afraid of everything.

I meant that needles don't scare me but life in general pretty much does.   

But... it turns out I am still pretty much afraid of needles.

At least, I'm afraid of them when they are drawing SIXTEEN TUBES OF BLOOD from my arm.

My doctor ordered a battery of tests.  I don't even know what they all are.  But don't get too excited, folks.  These test results aren't likely to explain what happened with Eliza (he doesn't think we'll ever know).  I guess these tests are the first steps in being proactive about a potential future pregnancy.  IF we decide to try again and IF I do get pregnant again, then these tests are part of my doctor being completely thorough.

Of course, I have lots of mixed feelings about possibly getting pregnant again.  The sort of mixed feelings that will keep my therapist in business for a while, I'm sure.  (In short:  YES!  A sweet baybee to love and a future that does not look utterly bleak and miserable, please sign me up.  Except NO!  No other baby will ever be Eliza and therefore all other babies are Terrible or at least Not Nearly As Good.  Also, in case you didn't know, babies die and life is horrible and lightning strikes more than once in the same place and I should just adopt another dog or possibly stay in bed for the rest of my life because opening up my heart to that much hurt again would be fatal).  So yeah.  I've been told these mixed feelings are normal and we're just SO not even there yet that it doesn't really matter.

But David wanted me to have the tests done right away.  He likes the idea of covering all of our bases and being "ready to go" if we ever decide we are "ready to go" again.  Or possibly he wants confirmation that I don't have chlamydia.

So I dutifully made the appointment.  And I forced myself to eat before I went so I wouldn't get all lightheaded and woozy.  Once we got there, I politely explained to the lab tech that "I do better with needles if I'm lying down" and we waited patiently in the room for her to gather all of the many tubes to collect the gallons of blood she would be drawing (she assured me it was actually much less than a pint but I am pretty sure it was at least three gallons).

Things got off to a rough start when I said, "So will you be able to do this all at once or will there be more than one stick?" and she replied, "Well, there's a lot to do.  It looks like you have good veins though, so your vein might hold up, but I can't promise."

OMG what?  What exactly does it mean if a vein "holds up"?  It doesn't collapse?  Or explode?  Either way the mere thought of veins made me want to gag.  So then I was having all of these images in my head of veins collapsing and exploding and it was not a good mindset to be in at the start of the blood draw. 

Because the thing about my needle fear is not a fear of being stuck--that's the least of it.  The pain of a needle stick is not the issue at all (I mean really, it doesn't hurt that bad).  It's the idea of goop being shoved into me through a syringe or--in this case--blood being sucked OUT of me.  And also the feeling of the effing needle WIGGLING in my vein.

Every time she switched out a tube, she wiggled the needle and it was kind of painful as well as incredibly GROSS.  I was TRYING to breathe through my nose and David was doing a good job of talking to me and trying to distract me but it was getting worse and worse each time the needle wiggled.  I wanted it to be over and I kept asking how much more but instead of telling me that we needed to switch to the other arm, the lab tech said something like, "Well the rubber stopper in this needle is giving out" and at the mention of the needle, I felt the dark and hot feeling in my head and I managed to whisper, "I think I'm going to pass out."

That got everybody's attention.  And then, instead of passing out, I started crying. 

So the lab tech jumped up to get me an ice pack and David kept patting my hand and telling me that I was doing a good job while I just laid there sobbing with tears running down into my ears and I couldn't breathe through my nose anymore because once I started crying my sinuses got all kinds of crazy.  The lab tech was kind of freaked out by me crying so hard.  But once I had the ice pack under my neck, I felt a little better  and managed to pull myself together.  I wanted to go home, but we'd only filled up TWELVE tubes. 

The lab tech obviously felt bad for me and she really wanted  me to understand that it wasn't her mistake--evidently the needle had a rubber stopper that quit working and it wasn't her fault and she wanted to be sure we knew that.  She said, "Would it make you feel sick to look at this needle?" and I said, "YES" so then she made David look at it so she could explain what messed up on it.  The whole time I was lying there thinking "WE DO NOT CARE for the love of God just finish drawing the blood already!"

She told me to rest while she labeled the first twelve tubes of blood (OMG stop mentioning blood) and then she came back and did the last four tubes with a needle stick in the other arm.  It was comparatively quick and easy.

It seems like almost everyday I tell myself, "At least that's over."  First the due date, then the first day back at work, then the doctor visit, the autopsy results, and then the gallon(s) of blood drawn for lab tests. 

I'm really ready to ease up on the difficult hurdles and just get back to watching TV.


  1. You handled it... And you didn't pass out. I hope you're not watching as much football as I've had to.

  2. Ugh. The week I spent in the hospital when Olivia was born, I had blood draws every 6 hours from Monday through Thursday, before that I was a lot less a fan of needles, but by the time that hellish week was over I could practically draw my own blood. But I'm lucky I've never had a needle phobia, I've just not ever been a fan of them. I'm sorry you had a rough time though and ugh that they had to do two sticks, blech.

    I'm glad you got it over with and I hope the tv watching is nicer to you.

  3. That's a lot of blood.

    I had some blood drawn a couple of weeks ago, and it usually doesn't bother me at all, so when the phlebotomist introduced a community college student (who looked so young I thought she was a 6th grader visiting on a career day) and asked if she could draw my blood, I was all "Sure. Whatever."

    AUGHHHHHH! It was like a horror movie.

  4. yeah. you deserve a medal and as much tv watching as you want after all that.

    i think i would have refused to let them do SIXTEEN VIALS in one visit! that's surely cruel and unusual punishment??