Doctors & Hospitals

A Tale of Two Blood Labs

Dear Diary,

On Saturday, I finally received the box with the blood labs requisitions from the Lyme doctor’s office. One requisition is for IGenex, the specialty lab in California, and the other is for LabCorp. Knowing that my insurance’s approved lab will not draw blood for IGenex, I knew I would have to go to two separate places to have my blood drawn.

It was going to be interesting having two blood draws in one day because I’m not the type of person the phlebotomists like to see. I’m considered a difficult draw. My veins seem to disappear the minute I enter the lab. I don’t know if it’s because it’s generally cold in there, or if I’m just experiencing “white coat syndrome”—you know, when a patient’s blood pressure goes up once they see the doctor. Only with me, it’s my veins, not my blood pressures. Who knows. Either way, it takes a very skilled phlebotomist to draw my blood. Knowing this, I hydrated like crazy yesterday and this morning.

So, when I arrived at LabCorp at 7:00 am, there weren’t too many people waiting. Thank God. I waited about 10 minutes and was called back. This phlebotomist was new. Never saw her before. I immediately went into my calm-yourself-down mode as I walked back to the chair with the special levered armrest lined with rubber tourniquets. Of course, it was freezing, but I covered myself with my coat until she was ready.

After tapping her screen, printing out labels, and organizing about nine tubes, she put on her gloves and proceeded to look for my veins. Left arm, right arm, left hand, right hand. Not much to work with, as usual. Back to the right arm. She found a good one, she said. So on went the tourniquet, and as I closed my eyes, in went the butterfly needle. Success! She tapped the vein and the flow was good enough to fill all nine vials. No problem.

On lab down. One lab to go.

Just down the street from LabCorp is an affordable family practice that charges $20 to draw your blood for an independent lab—as long as that lab supplies the requisition, instructions, and tubes. So, with my IGenex box containing all that stuff in it, I went to the family practice. Those folks are so very kind, but they always look a bit apprehensive when they see me.

The feeling is mutual. I first met them when I was having some allergy testing done by a different independent lab; and once more, when I needed blood drawn for the first Lyme test with the IGenex kit. Each time, the nurses there had such a hard time finding my veins. They didn’t seem to have the experience or skill to deal with a difficult patient. To get the blood I needed for both previous tests, they stuck me three times; in either of the hands, the arm at the elbow, or the mid arm.

Unfortunately, today was no different. This time the experience was pretty bloody. For some reason, each time she poked me, blood would stop flowing before filling up the tube, but when she gave up and removed the needle, LOTS of blood would come out. My hands and arms were stained along with the top of the student desk I was seated in.

I’ve learned to take these experiences in stride. It takes too much energy to get angry, and I don’t want to make them feel bad. They did their level best to draw my blood. So, I left there all bandaged up with four holes in me—the one from LabCorp, the other three from the family practice.

As I write this, my left hand is swollen and my left arm is badly bruised from the unsuccessful draws. My right hand only has a slight bump where the needle entered.

Well, tomorrow, I will look for other independent blood labs to get my blood drawn. I can’t go back to the family practice again. Love them, but…. Three strikes. They’re out.



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