I oughta be in textbooks

[RIGHT]“With veins like that, Kid, I’d have myself a time!” – The Sailor, Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs (not the Tarzan guy)[/RIGHT]

Apparently, I’m just a wonderful example of the things a nurse or phlebotomist likes to see in [del]fresh meat[/del] a patient. To begin with, I have “beautiful” veins. The indigo tracery of my vascular system inspires happy little noises and excited commentary among those tasked with jabbing hollow steel spikes into my bloodstream. I am morally certain I could be started with an eighteen. I don’t have the hosepipes the gym rats develop, but, still, an eighteen.

I also have a textbook adrenaline response, secondary to my textbook needle phobia. I go from being excited, to being chalky, nauseous, and nearly unconscious, to being shaky, chattery in tooth and tingly in hands, and moderately prone to spilling cranberry juice on my shirt. This is also much valued, if only for the comedic potential.

My veins are genetic, as influenced by the weight I’ve lost, but the phobia is learned, was learned from long experience with needles due to ears that swelled and ruptured at the drop of a hat beginning at infancy and necessitating surgeries from very early childhood, not to mention all of the MRIs and CAT scans I underwent at a similarly young age.

So, given the foregoing, I’m happy I got the new trainee. It is important for the new people to see a good textbook response as a baseline for future expectations, and to get veins forgiving of errors they can hit the first time around. Good lord am I happy she hit a vein the first time around.

I used to be used as an example when I donated <read: ‘sold’> plasma regularly. My veins don’t pop out or anything, but they seem simple enough. But somehow they roll, push the needle right OUT, or something. I’m not a needle fan, but I can control my arm so it doesn’t move, twitch, or anything. Still…yeah. Everything from the phlebotomist not believing me when I said she didn’t have it in right, leading to a nicely swollen and black arm a few minutes later, to my veins somehow swelling to the point they couldn’t RETURN my blood, necessitating a butterfly needle and 3 hours of waiting for it to drip back in.

I hated doing it, but when you’re broke, you’re broke, so…

One day a newbie with her first stick was coming over to me, and one of the more experienced nurses got to me first, explained that she was new, and he’d move her to another donor. I told him to go ahead and let her; somehow I’m a lot stronger under pressure-pain when I know I have to keep somebody ELSE’s confidence up, and confidence is key. Besides, if it went well, great; if it went badly, I was one of the better ones to talk her through it, since I don’t break down until after the stress is over, lol.

Worked great, and on another visit she told me that she’d been told, AFTER, what a pain in the ass my veins can be and she felt happy she got one of the tougher ones out of the way on the first try.

Lucky! I inherited itsy bitsy teenie weenie veins from my grandmother and mother. I wanted to donate plasma in college (for the money and the feeling of doing something “good”). I had really felt good about myself after donating blood during a college-wide drive, and figured I could achieve hometown hero status by selling plasma. Why not get paid for something I’d have happily done for free, you know?

Anyway, I went in and they looked at my arm and said no, my veins were too small for the needle. :frowning: It sucks because I’m not even afraid of needles! What a waste of a non-phobia.

My veins are small. They roll, and blow at the drop of a hat. They’re also zigzaggy. (“See that ladderwork pattern?” “Yeah.” “That’s not good.”) So it’s ironic that I have to get bloodwork done at least once a month to monitor my bloodthinner, where sometimes I “flash” and have to be stuck again. And sometimes again (and again.) For a while my good spot was at my left shoulder.

Once a nurse had to call the anesthesia dept. to start another simple IV. And I’ve had to get those started in a foot, and once a thumb, before. Which is why I got to wear a PICC line for months while getting chemo. (Actually, that was the part I disliked the most about that whole experience, but here’s a tip: snag all the thin “wet umbrella” bags you can to tape on before a shower.)

So I’m a textbook example of veins not to have, I think. I used to be scared of needles, can you believe it? (I got over it.)
I try not to get the newbies, tho, and the tech and I say in unison, “Butterfly.”