The Gods of Blood
A comment posted to Bevel Down:
I hate it when I tell people that I'm a hard stick. They look and SEE and say Nah! You'll be easy.Humility is a lesson I've learned the hard way. Here's the spiel I use as I'm tightening the tourniquet and carefully palpating for a vein (when I can push on it and tell from the give that it's a fluid-filled structure and not scar):
No, I'm not, really; I get monthly lab draws...for almost 13 years. Trust me. I'm not an easy stick. I don't care what you SEE when you look.
Then they start to feel; "Oh, here's a good one!"
Please make sure that's not the scar tissued area.
"Nah! this is a good vein! Whoever told you you were a hard stick didn't know what they were doing!"
Stick (as the JAB feels like I've just been jabbed with needle the size of the Seattle space needle)
Hmmmm ... it collapsed. No blood is coming. Odd, funny, you looked like you were an easy stick.
"yea, gee ...funny. Told you I was a hard stick.
"Outside these four walls I'm fairly religious. I believe in one Gd; I'm active in my synagogue. But inside this room I am a shameless pagan; I worship the Gods of Blood. The Gods of Blood are jealous gods, easily angered. And what angers the Gods of Blood is hubris. Overweening pride. So I try never to say, 'Oh, that's a great vein. I can hit that; no problem.' Because the Gods of Blood will hear me; and they will strike me down and make me miss. Never fails."
By now the blood is usually rushing into the tube and I'm getting the other tubes ready. I go on:
"One time there was this guy who said, 'I'm a terrible stick', and I said, 'Nah. That's a great vein. I can hit that; no problem.' I push the needle into the vein, push the tube onto the needle, and...nothing. I said -- out loud -- 'Gods of Blood; I apologize for my arrogance. I promise I will be humble from now on.' I withdrew the needle about a millimeter and -- WHOOSH -- in rushed the blood."
At this point I usually have the tourniquet off and a cotton ball ready to press over the puncture as I withdraw the needle. I interrupt my narrative to say, "Press on this. Don't bend..." as they try to bend the arm, (bending the elbow to apply pressure after venipuncture has been shown to stretch the hole in the vein and increase the chance of hematoma) "...just press," and I continue:
"Now you probably think I'm kidding about this. But I have to tell you: I've been doing this long enough that I'm not sure how much is actually kidding anymore."
And that's why I never brag. And why I humbly approach everyone as if they were a hard stick. I've sometimes disconcerted people by looking at a huge, fat, juicy vein and saying, "I'll try." They say, "What the hell do you mean 'try'? How can you not hit that?" I just answer, "It's about my religion," as I launch into the spiel above.
It's my genuflection to the Gods of Blood.
(Oh yeah: the other way to anger the Gods of Blood is to write someone's name on the tube before their blood is in it. It implies you don't think you're going to miss. So I never write the name until the blood is in it; BUT it's the VERY FIRST THING I DO after the tape is on. The tubes never leave the room unlabelled. Sounds crazy, I know; but like I say, I've been doing this a long time. And the only times I miss are the times I get overconfident. It's kinda scary.)