24 July 2011

Blood Draw McGraw

For once I had a magazine with me and wasn't too distracted to read it as I waited for the pager in my lap to go off. After several pages of Popular Photography, a ring of red lights lit up the pager as it buzzed. I replaced my bookmark and stood up to meet the person by the counter who was going to draw my blood.

He was young, maybe mid-twenties? (that should not be striking me as young yet!), slim, and almost my height. He had red hair that was straight but a very curly red beard. It wasn't patchy but it wasn't thick either. Of course, in this heat, I'd probably keep my beard trimmed down too.

I followed him back to the familiar room of partitions. I'm used to being along the right wall, but his station was in the middle of the room with its opening facing a sink and a hallway leading further back. Several staff members walked past talking, giving the room a chaotic feel.

He verified my identity and then said, "I'm Kyle."

"Hey." No one else has ever introduced her/himself when I was there before. As he arranged vials and labels, I said, "This is the first time I've sat in this one. There's a lot of activity going on."

"I just hope the power doesn't go out. Did you see the lights flicker?"

"I did. I caught it in my peripheral when I was reading and wondered, 'What the heck was that?'"

"They're trying to reduce power consumption to be green, but sometimes it gives us brownouts."

He looked about ready, so I said, "Is it OK if you do my left?" The default set up of all their stations is for drawing blood from the right arm.

"Sure." Kyle flipped down a padded arm in front of me so I could rest my arm on it. He inspected the inside of my elbow for a minute, feeling for the vein. He seemed satisfied, so he tied the elastic tourniquet around my bicep and put on some gloves. He wiped off my inner elbow and then got the needle ready. "Could you make a fist for me?"

"Sure." I made a fist and looked away as he said, "OK, here's the pinch." The pain was very brief, one of the better draws I've had by far.

I looked back and watched my blood fill the vial. "Do you want me to keep holding a fist?"

"Yes, I'll let you know when you can let it go."


He pulled out the vial and replaced it with another. "Are you doing OK?"

This question always throws me during blood draws, but they always ask it. "Yeah, I'm fine."

"So do you have any plans this weekend?" Kyle asked.

It was Friday afternoon, so it seemed a reasonable, innocuous question. His tone in no way conveyed I'm hitting on you, although it didn't convey I'm not hitting on you either.

"Not really," I answered, with a tone I meant to convey, That's flattering, but it's never gonna happen.

"What are you reading?"

The arm rest was obscuring the magazine in my lap. "Popular Photography."

"Oh, so you're interested in photography?"

Several responses came to mind in a flash, but I didn't feel like getting too far into it, so I just said, "Yeah," with a smile.

He removed the third vial and placed a piece of gauze over the puncture site as he pulled the needle out. Used to the routine, I moved to hold it in place when he asked me to.

Kyle took off his gloves and checked the vials against his paperwork. He checked it a few times and then said, "I'm so sorry. I was supposed to draw one more vial."

"D'oh," I exhaled. "OK. Do you want to use the right?"

"If you'd like me to. I can put it right back in where I had it. I'm so sorry about this." He was clearly mortified and doing his best to make amends.

Oh, what the hell, I thought to myself. I've had blood drawn from the same arm twice in one week and it wasn't that bad. "The left is fine."

"It'll sting a bit more this time since it'll be more sensitive."

"It's OK."

Kyle lifted up the gauze I was holding to check my arm and then put it back. "Keep holding that."

"I can't believe this," Kyle lamented, "I've never done this before."

Hmm, that doesn't exactly make me feel better. "Well, at least you realized now instead of after I got home."

"Yeah," Kyle said. "Wait, there was one other time. I drew 10 vials from this guy. He had a list of labels this long..." He gestured to indicate something longer than a sheet of standard paper. "...but it was folded under! I had three more vials to draw. I had to chase him down in the parking lot."

I laughed at the image that conjured. (My labels were less than a regular sheet and not folded under, if you were wondering.) I expected the guy to yell at Kyle in the next part of his story.

Kyle continued, "He said, 'Stuff happens.'"

"Well, it does," I agreed. I decided Kyle had just been distracted by my good looks, so how could I be mad at him for that?

He drew the last vial of my blood and before he removed the needle, I asked, "Are you sure that's all you need?"

"Yeah, I'm sure."

"OK." I smiled at him.

Even with two draws to the same spot within minutes, it was still much better than several blood draws I've had. I am getting a little leery of the male staff though. ;)

A year ago on TTaT: Pinecones, attached

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