On blood tests

Needle in, blood out. Quick chat with Sally, the practice nurse. Go home.  Forget about it. That’s been the normal 3 monthly routine for the past year or so, and far more frequently before that.

But there’s been a change at our local surgery.  One practice has split into two and our surgery has an almost entirely new staff of doctors, nurses and whoever else works in a GP practice.  So, today, there’s a new nurse, no Sally, and the blood test went something like this:

“What’s this for? CA 125? Oh, you’ve had a bone scan.”

(Thinks: Bone scan?  Why’s she asking me about a bone scan?  I’ve had cancer, I’ve had everything scanned and she’s asking me about a bone scan?)

“Which arm?  OK, show me both arms. ”

Taps veins.  “It’s coming up.  This one will do.  I have done this a few times before, you know.”

(Thinks:  Oh dear, bad sign.  Why did she need to tell me that?  That few is a bit worrying.)

 Needle in.  “Do you normally have problems giving blood?” 

(Thinks:  No.  Why? More bad signs.)

Needle jiggles about.  No  blood.  Change the angle. No blood. Jiggle about a bit more. 

(Thinks: That’s why)

Dig the needle in a bit further. 

(Thinks: Ouch! That hurts. Giving blood doesn’t normally hurt).

Still no blood.  Tilt it down a bit.

(Thinks:  Now that really hurts! I’m going to have such a big bruise.  Hurry up!)

“Are you all right?”

(Grits teeth and thinks: No I’m not alright. Giving blood has never been so painful. Get on with it.  Says:  Yes.)

Hooray! A dribble of blood appears in the syringe.  Dig the needle in a bit more.  We’re done.  I can go home.

“So do you phone for the results?”

“No, it goes to oncology.”  (Thinks: I still don’t know why she asked about the bone scan.  Perhaps she has no idea it’s a cancer check up.)

And in fact, to be fair, there’s no reason why she should have any idea what CA125 indicates.  But she could have looked at my notes. Or even tried to make some conversation.

Over the past two years I’ve got used to having needles stuck in to me: blood out, nasty things in, whatever.   It’s rarely been a problem.  It’s routine for most of these people.  Oddly, though, the worst ones at taking blood have been the phlebotomists.  As far as I know, that’s what they’re trained to do: take blood.  Yet one of them had to call the doctor in to do the necessary and the other left me with my biggest bruise to date.  Her record might just be broken today, though, as it’s an hour later and my arm still hurts.

I’m already dreading the next one in 3 months time.  I might just enquire quietly if there’s another nurse and book with her.   Come back Sally!

Photocredit: @MSG

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10 thoughts on “On blood tests

  1. owww, it hurt even reading about it! what do you want to bet she was using the wrong size needle as well?…”oops, this one is for horses-sorry!” yeah, phlebotomy majors, I think they practice on oranges or something. Per usual nowadays, you’ll just have to be more demonstrative and well-armed (no pun intended!)on the next visit. Next time you go in, specifically ask for anyone except “Sadie”, and if they ask you why not ‘sadie’, just tell them she cant find your veins. end of story. Days of trying not to hurt people’s feelings are over…Moreover, she certainly should have known what she was drawing the sample for, so it doesnt exactly instill confidence in the staff… 🙂

  2. Ow – this reminds me of the US system. You have so many specialists for every little thing that there’s no continuity. You end up having to know more than anyone else about your health issues.

  3. I’ve recently discovered that in the US, when they want to warn you that they’re about to jab the needle in, they say “stick”. I’m trying to think what it would be in Britain, but all I can think of is “little prick coming now” – which would cause too much mirth.

  4. Mirth – just what’s needed, I think, Iota. In fact I suspect she did say “Little prick coming”. And now you’ve pointed that out, I’m sure I shall never be able to have another blood test without giggling.

    Yes, ExPatMum – I’m beginning to realise, as my folder of notes gets fatter and the start of the self-destruct sequence disappears off the bottom (top?) of the computer screen, that they all only look at the most recent entry and don’t necessarily have any idea of what’s brought you to this point.

    I will be asking for another nurse next visit, Kris. And hopefully I’ll be a bit more awake and on the ball myself.

  5. Eek! I wouldn’t let that nurse near me again with a blinkin’ barge pole! And YES she should know about CA 125, YES she should know a little about you. Grr.

    One nurse almost killed me [well that’s what it felt like at the time]. She had a pump on the needle for getting lots of blood – the pump blew off and the resultant huge explosion of air was terrifying!

    Me: [quite calmly] ‘Do I now have oxygen in my veins?’ [Thinking SHRIEK! About to die – of air!]
    Nurse: [chuckling in an embarrassed fashion] ‘Oh no, that was just the pump falling off you know…’
    Me; ‘NO I DON’T KNOW!!’

    My arm was black and blue within 5 minutes and she had to use the other arm. I never had her again.

    They usually say: ‘Sharp scratch’ in a twinkly voice at our surgery…better they should say ‘painful STAB’ in a sombre one. Having bloods done sucks.

    But so chuffed about your result! :o)

  6. Ah well, my CA125 continues to be undetectable – just where it should be and definitely where it wasn’t two years ago – and I only have one more 3 monthly appointment. I then reach the 2 year mark and it’s on to 6 monthly intervals. So not too many more blood tests, I hope 🙂

    And the consultant yesterday was telling me that, since their publicity drive on ovarian cancer symptoms earlier in the year, there has been a huge increase in women coming forward with early stage cancer – ie. cancer like mine that is treatable. So that’s good news! As she said, women know their own bodies. And the message, ladies, is that if you think there’s something not quite right, don’t leave it too late.

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