Labwork is a necessary evil for those of us in the Diabetes Community.
While we all love to banter about our own vampire-like skills in blood tests, set or sensor insertions, and syringe stabs, our semi-regular visits to those other Vampires in lab settings are a whole different breed. I've shared the perpsective before of one Vampire Girl who's Better Than Edward Cullen, but as a followup I now offer my latest lab adventure where we got to play that game known as Find the Vein.
My fun came on Wednesday. Even though I've been meaning to take some time to get over to the lab to get that done, I procrastinated and didn't get around to it until a chance arose this week - the day before my nearing Endo appointment.
In the 4 years or so that I've been with this current Endo, my lab work sites have moved around a number of times - first in the adjacent hospital itself, then in a lab down the hall from her office, across the street at the same hospital once her office moved into a new building, on the first floor of her new building, now up one floor. They've all been pretty routine visits without much hassle, though the wait time has fluctuated based on location and time of day.
Being in my 27th year now of Living With Diabetes, I have noticed that during the past five or so that it's been more difficult to not only draw my blood but also to find my veins. I've heard others say they have always had that issue, but historically this was never a problem for me. I was the boy who grew into the guy with "good veins."
Or so it was. That's changed in recent years.
This new visit was the first time I'd gotten labwork done since the hospital implemented a new medical file system where all of the patient files are connected on the same system, no matter the location - "One Patient, One File" is what it's called. That certainly made the registration process easier than I recall it being. No insurance info was needed on her end, as it was all in the system - which should also prove to be interesting once it's all processed, as for the first time I've got insurance coverage that apparently fully covers all my regular lab work and diagnostic tests... We'll see whether that turns out to be accurate or not, but it didn't surface at that point in the lab.
After all the registration, we got going with the "pee in a cup" practice. As I'd been fasting for about 12 hours without food or coffee (and was a little cranky thanks to a nauseating High that morning...), we were then ready for Vampire Lady to suck a vial or two of red goodness from my body.
That's where the adventure truly began.
She couldn't find a vein. My left arm didn't look good to her after some poking and prodding, so we tried the right side. It was even worse, she told me. Back to the left side, she stabbed my arm and apologized - even though I hardly felt it and didn't grimace. No blood appeared. She moved the needle around, and found nothing. Pulling it out, no blood emerged.
"Did I miss," she asked rhetorically.
"No. My veins just don't like vampires," I replied with a smile.
"Well, they can't hide forever, can they? I'm pretty sure I can get one eventually..."
She tried my right arm, and had the same result.
"You have deep veins. Has anyone ever told you that?"
Nope, that was new. Can't say I'd heard that before. We went over the fact that I hadn't drank any coffee earlier or that I'd cut off my water supply - but were No responses.
Without any success, she started eying my hands. I pointed out that I didn't recall the last time I'd had a hand blood draw, but observed how my veins have become more reluctant through the years. That was a common thing for her, and she mentioned that she was only allowed to do three needle sticks unless a patient specifically consented that more were allowed. I gave her permission to do whatever was needed, but said we weren't going at my feet no matter what.
Turning to a butterfly needle, she set her sights on the top side of my left hand just below where my wedding ring rests. Apparently, it tried to run and hide. So she moved the needle to chase after it... "A-HA!" she proclaimed.
I took that as a good sign, released my fist, and within seconds saw the vial fill up with redness.
"See, it tried to run from the Vampire but couldn't escape," I said. We shared a laugh, then it was time to say goodbye.
In Vampire Lady's defense, she seemed to be qualified and not a Mindless Blood-Sucking Zombie like those I've encountered before. She appeared to know what she was doing, but was just foiled by my fussy veins. So I don't blame her at all, and she had a sense of humor about it where I've seen others get frustrated.
After leaving, I shared some of the fun on twitter and several fellow Diabetes Online Community members shared their own frustrations about playing the "Find The Vein" Game. One clever soul quipped, "That game is so draining." I couldn't help but laugh at that one as I left the building.
Actually, I'd be returning to that building the next morning to visit with my Endo - and I am not ancipating a Happy Time. I'm dreading the appointment and don't anticipate a good A1c result based on how I've been lately (the 7.5% result I got from Santa Endo Claus just before Christmas will likely be higher...), and hopefully the blood work will reveal all else is OK. (Though, I also suspect my thyroid results will be off, but that's a whole other story for different post). We'll see. At least the blood work will be processed quickly and be able to make it to my Endo's office one floor down - that's awesome!
So there it is - my latest round of Find the Vein, a game we all know and love to not love. Or make fun of. At least there's rewards at the end, and blog-worthy topics to write about! Have you played this game before, and what have your experiences with these Vampires been like? I'd love to hear your stories.