March for Babies

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Vain Drain

So I went last week Tuesday to donate blood.  I have done this countless times as evidenced by the many scars on my inner right elbow.  I wear them as a badge of pride.  I do my part.  I do what I can to help those in need in my community.  I do it because I know so many others do not.  I do it because I know some want to but cannot.  I do it because I am not afraid of needles or any sort of medical situation and I know that prevents some from giving when otherwise they would.
OK, off the soapbox. 
So I made it through the screening just fine. Though it is more difficult when I have to explain each time that I do have two chronic diseases (Endo and Hashimoto's) for which I see a doctor on a regular basis and no, it will not effect my ability to donate.  They ask me this every time and every time I have to explain that they ask me all this every time and it is fine I have been doing this for years, it is not a problem.  Just a hassle in getting through the paperwork.  The screeners are just doing their jobs, I know, but you would think they could put something in my permanent record so we don't have to hash it out each time. ANYWAY...
I hopped up on the table telling them the right arm is my good arm which is quickly confirmed by the phlebotomist when she saw all of my scars and how good the veins stick out.  She confirmed my name, turned me brown/orange with the betadine and secured the tourniquet.  I squeezed twice on the little stress ball and held while she poked the needle into my arm.
"Wow," I thought to myself, "This one hurt more than normal".
She paused, backed up a bit still holding the needle and my arm and said to me, rather harshly in my opinion, "You have a hematoma!" As if it were MY fault.
I turned my head to look at my arm and saw that there is very little blood in the tube connected to the needle but that my arm had swollen out to double its normal size.  This happened instantly.  I cannot express quickly enough in words how fast this happened because by the time you read the sentence to describe it, it would have happened five times already.  It was FAST!
She jiggled the needle a bit and I noticed that the site of the needle was no longer painful but that I felt pain going down my forearm across the top of my hand and down my ring finger. 
"Oh, that must just be because that is the finger they poked to check my iron" I thought.
"Does it hurt?" she asked me.
"No, but my hand is going numb" I said.
"Hmm" she replied, with that puzzled look on her face again.
"Well, I am going to have to remove it." she said, apologetically, as if I wanted this all to continue. "That is our normal procedure when these things happen."
She took the needle out and I held my arm straight up in the air applying pressure with the other hand.  My right hand still throbbed and my whole arm became sore.
We decided to try again with the other arm, even though the right arm has always been the good arm.  The only vein available on the left was a side vein. 
"These are OK," she said "but they don't always hold up".  I've had the side veins used before so I told her to go ahead and try anyway.
I had to wait something like 20 minutes while they redid the paperwork because they could not use the original tubes and collection bag because they had been contaminated now, you know, with my own blood.  Don't want to go mixing blood from the right and left arms now do we?
She got the left arm going and went about helping the others donating around me.  Then she came back and frowned at my bag.  I was going too slow. 
"Squeeze gently but more often" she said of the little rubber ball.  I did.  She continued to frown. 
We spent another 20 minutes adjusting things, her pulling down on my arm muscle to give the needle just the right angle.  She released the tape holding the needle and put it back.  She pulled the tourniquet tighter, made it looser.  I was too slow.  I have NEVER been accused of being a slow bleeder.  I usually get remarks from all the neighboring phlebotomists about how FAST I fill the bag!  I am a good bleeder!
They finally had to stop it for fear that I might start to clot.  They only had 1/2 a pint.  I asked if they could use what they had and she said she didn't think so.  BUT, I still had to wait the entire 56 days before I could give again because I had lost so much blood.  *shaking my head* 
I left with the standard Band-Aid on my left arm and a pressure bandage on the right.  My right arm hurt from my shoulder down to my fingertips.  I couldn't move that arm for two days.  Over the weekend it was still bothering me.  Just yesterday the bruising appeared.  It must have been DEEP.  I now have bruising in various colors of yellow, green, purple and brown in a circle with a 3 inch diameter!
So, I was drained in vain, with nothing to gain, except my own pain...I thought I would explain. (OK, I'm done,sorry.)


Ollie said...

Girlie, you and I have identical arm vein issues. Right arm is good to go, left arm has a weirdo side vein. But that crap of hitting a deep nerve & vein on your good arm--YOWCH YOWCH YOWCH.

B said...

OMG - I would have freaked right the hell out if that would have happened to me. I've been meaning to give blood again. I've only done it once, but it felt great. Not the needle and crap - you know what I mean.

Sandy said...

Holy schmoly! You really are a hero, though, for sticking it out and for donating in the first place. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

They get so freaked out when they see (okay, don't see) my veins that they pass me around from person to person until I get the one with the most experience. They've never missed yet.

I always think that the finger poke hurts more than the blood. I mean, assuming they hit the vein and all.

I hope your arm is healing.