Ask for Countess Dracula, expert blood sucker

blood drop-clipartfreeforI hate blood tests. Phlebotomists (blood suckers) don’t like my veins.

They say personally devastating things like “your veins roll.” What does that mean? Or “it collapsed.” Seriously?

Another all-time favorite “this never happens” said while they are threading their way through my arm tissue. It’s always my vein’s fault when they can’t get blood. *whacks head on table*

Because of lymph node removal during a surgery, I am limited to only one arm for bloodletting. I do not allow them to use my hand. (Do you know how much that hurts?) They are limited to two tries before I ask for a supervisor or the CEO of the hospital, whichever is available.

It became a tradition that I would ask for a pediatric needle. That worked better.

Then I met Countess Dracula.

She works at the blood laboratory closest to Starbucks. (Important when we are talking about fasting tests!)

I’ve been going there a long time. The phlebotomists turned over regularly. When I had someone trained on the intricacies of my veins, they were gone.

Several years ago this young woman appeared. She’s wonderful.

She’s not friendly (that’s defined as not laughing at my insipid jokes). She is skilled. I’ll take that over laughing at my jokes any day.

This week I needed a blood test. I went as a walk-in.

I wouldn’t stay if it was crowded but there were only two people waiting. That’s good. Someone was in the back. This should be easy peasy (famous last words).

The lab rooms are right off of the waiting area. You can hear very well. There was a black guy in the back. (I am not calling him an African-American because I don’t think he was American. He had a thick accent which was fun to decipher and he wasn’t familiar with how labs works.)

He had blood drawn but as they finished the paperwork, he asked for another test. The tech explained that it would require another blood draw and she couldn’t do it without a doctor’s script. (Yes, we have labs that will do any test you want without a script but they all require payment first.)

He insisted she should take it and he’ll have his doc send the script. It became an interesting exchange (mostly because of the accent) but in the end he was banished to the waiting room to contact his doc and have the script faxed. All this took 15 precious minutes.

The room had filled up. Lots of people waiting and shuffling. Stomachs growling from fasting. First patient loudly talking to his doc’s staff on the phone.

The techs were testy. (Not a good thing!)

Countess Dracula saw that I was next and sent me back to her room. I was greatly relieved as there was another bloodsucker working that day and I didn’t know how skilled she was at “playful” veins that liked to trip up the inexperienced.

The Countess recognized me and relaxed but was still not friendly. (I didn’t try any of my blood jokes on her. Today was not the day for that.)

Normally I am out in less than five minutes. She looked at my script and grunted. She had never grunted before. I was worried.

My doctor’s assistant had put the wrong diagnosis coding on my script and it wouldn’t be covered by insurance. She promptly called my doctor’s office to correct it.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? It wasn’t. They put her on hold for five minutes.

(Note to self: When you call a doctor’s office and they say press 1 if you are a doctor, doctor’s office or hospital, it doesn’t guarantee faster service!)

Everything got resolved. She got blood on the first try as she always does and I was out the door.

As I was leaving I heard the first guy going back to the room to get more blood taken. I could hear his delightful accent complaining all the way.

When you have an accent even your complaints sound more interesting.

On the way out I heard another patient on his cell phone explaining to someone who cared that he had 120 cc of urine in his bladder that morning. What a strange thing to know about someone. I didn’t know (and couldn’t tell from his tone) if this was a good thing or a bad thing.



50 thoughts on “Ask for Countess Dracula, expert blood sucker

  1. I have veins that don’t behave too. Most times now it all goes well. They also shoot for the same vein in my left arm. I can’t even see it until they put that rubber band thing around my arm… pop, and it’s off! I think I hate the rubber thingie more than the draw!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know the veins they can access easily. When they have trouble with the one in the crook of my arm, I have another one near my wrist that works well. Not real fond of that rubber thingie either.


  2. I have small, sideways veins. Some phlebotomists can deal with them, some not so much. I have a favorite guy I go to. He is so funny and laughs at everything (even my jokes). I never notice the stick because I’m too busy laughing… proof that blood tests can be fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am due this coming week – and dreading it. I used to have the most wonderful tech – he was a quiet Jamaican guy so professional and somehow he knew how to coax my sluggish blood out quickly with one stick and didn’t laugh when I said, “Please, don’t how me the needle” – I would let others go ahead of me in order to get him. But my doc changed practices…the last time was horrid with a grumpy person, too…the long wait is as bad as that bench outside the principal’s office…
    Agree with you about drinking more water and skipping the coffee as it raises blood pressure for me (which means the doc will raise the question of statin – which I do not tolerate well at all)…maybe I’ll try humming…lie meditation, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • One time (prior to a surgical procedure) an anesthesiologist (sp?) nurse started an IV. She started with a small shot of lidocaine. That wasn’t so bad. Humming works as long as you don’t “dance to the music.”


  4. I’ve had some dreadful attempts and some “quick, we’re ins.” I prefer the latter.

    If they are really having a tough time, I have them use a butterfly needle in the back of my hand . . . because I do not want to have gone out and about without coffee for nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The butterfly is a pediatric needle and I used that for years. I agree with you about fasting for nothing. My husband’s doctor says he can drink black coffee (no cream or sugar) prior to a fasting blood test but I don’t. That would make me less cranky.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel your pain. Literally.
    Having been a pin cushion for 40+ years, my veins are shot. Drinking massive amounts of fluid all day long the day before helps considerably (If I don’t get up in the night, I haven’t had enough). Just the other day I had an infusion. A new tech came to start the IV. I was nervous. But she was very professional. The previous time the best tech had had to try 3 times (and she’d never failed me before). So I was nervous. This woman got it the first time and it didn’t hurt a bit. You know what she said after she’d gotten it started?

    “They only just let me start doing IVs!”

    But she was the best I’ve ever had! I’m so glad she didn’t tell me before hand!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a skill that not all master. I was told not to start drinking a lot until a couple hours before because it would wash out. Drinking and exercising the hand prior to the procedure has helped a lot but having someone skilled helps more. Usually I go to the gym first which exercises my arm and then I have a hand squeezer thingie that I use on the way. I wonder about how they will take blood when I’m really old and my veins are really limp. Aren’t you glad that she didn’t tell you that before she started? You would have been expecting the worst!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Blessed with invisible, rolly, sludgy-blooded veins, I can certainly relate to this whole post Kate! I finally find someone in some lab who can get it in one try and then that person is too soon gone and replaced by the inexperienced, brutal, or hopelessly inept.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Being hydrated is supposed to help. Try to drink plenty of water the day before going. I never have trouble, thank God. They always get it on the first stick. My daughter, however, had no veins. After 3 tries, someone else would try 3. Sometimes they would get a doctor to do it. A few times they used ultra-sound. I couldn’t stand to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Drinking the day before doesn’t help. You pee it all out. They recommended that I drink a lot of water starting about an hour or two before. My sympathies to your daughter. 5 sticks was the worst and it was for an IV for surgery. Had it just been a blood test I would have walked out. My former family doctor had a nurse that couldn’t draw blood if her life depended on it. I never let her do it.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Need a LOVE button for today’s blog. As you know, I have the same one-arm-only situation and I too get blood drawn all the time. I am what they call a “tough stick.” Yeah. But what this really reminded me of was a very sassy nurse who cared for me on my most recent Rock the Hospital Tour. They took blood around 4:00am every day, so labs would be back by the time docs made their rounds. They actually tried to be quiet and not shine light directly in my eyes and stuff, but obviously I always woke up. One morning the room was still really dark but I stirred, and the nurse whispered “do you ever wonder about random people wandering around in the dark of night, sucking blood from all the patients? Wouldn’t a hospital be excellent lodging for a vampire?” Deadpan. I fell in love with her. She became my favorite nurse of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think anyone could take my blood without me waking up. I can sleep through an earthquake but not through a cat whimper or a blood stick. I was always a hard stick too. Wear that proudly!


  9. I am a retired nurse and enjoyed your story. I fortunately have never had trouble with blood draws but have started many IVs. Some veins roll because the inner walls of the veins are thicker on some people. It’s like the vein sees a needle coming and try to get away. Thanks for starting my morning with a laugh!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t willingly give! I hate the smell of blood…even the thought of it is upsetting. My veins are not cooperative at all. And I too, need the child’s stick. I have had to have gals sit on the floor with my arm hanging down…and then viola…blood!!!! And then I walk out of there and the worry about the results begins. Arrgh!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Aaaaannd, I’ve been the phlebotomist. I’ve seen all your icky veins and rejoiced when a guy comes in with veins you could drive a truck through. I’ve heard every blood letting joke. I applaud your phlebotomist’s attitude and skill.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My husband donates blood every 8 weeks. The blood starts flowing as soon as it sees the needle. They have more trouble getting the blood to stop then they have with anything else. It’s just not fair! I once asked (actually I always ask) if there is anything to do that will make it easier and have gotten some good tips. Once they told me that if they couldn’t get it from my arm they would try my hand or my foot, they got me to pay attention. I haven’t had issues within the past few years but that’s after I met Countess Dracula.


  12. Every six weeks, when I go for my infusions, they draw six vials of blood. Sometimes they get it, but more often than not, it’s a struggle and they call in extra troops. I don’t watch as they’re doing it, so I hate when they give me the play by play. I just don’t want to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always ask “is it in yet.” That’s all I want to know. With the Countess I don’t even ask. She is so quick and skilled it’s never a problem. I had a surgery and the nurse did 5 sticks for the IV. I was going crazy. They finally called the anesthesiologist to do it. Very quick. It’s a skill.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Bless your heart!! I know these feelings all too well my friend. I’ve been giving plasma twice a week now since November 2015. I’m actually stepping back from a break now. You never know how the blood sucker is going to be. I’ve had ones that bruise you, I’ve had ones that tell me they can’t find a vein and ones that stick you and then wiggle it around to find a vein- rolls eyes here. In 38 contributions to the plasma clinic, there has only been ONE time when they stuck me and I didn’t feel a thing. Other than that, I have HUGS. XOXO – Bacon’s MOM

    Liked by 1 person

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