Sunday, July 11, 2010

Boo Boo

I gave blood the other day. Usually, this works out just fine. They look at my arms, and choose a vein in the right arm. And poke, dig a bit, and then wait while the blood collects.

This time, they dug around in the right arm and couldn't get any blood. Four of the nurses tried, and four failed. They said there might have been a clot or something in the needle. The digging around gets unfun fairly fast. Usually, the poke and a quick dig don't hurt. But sometimes, the needle sitting there for even a little moment between people trying really hurts. It's like it's sitting at a nerve or something, and just ouchies.

So then they tried the left arm. Let me tell you about my left arm. It's pretty whussy. Basically, it knows how to hold down the paper when I write, and that's pretty much it. So the veins are even more difficult to get.

The nurse who was in charge of me decided she couldn't find a vein, so called over one of the others, the "go to" nurse for bad veins. So she found a vein and went for it.

Poke. Dig. Dig a bit more. Another nurse dug around for a bit. Nothing. So the "go to" nurse dug some more, and then, voila, she got something. What she got was bright red.

Now usually, when you give blood, the blood is sort of a dark purple. But this was bright red, the sort of bright primary red that little kids use when they draw blood. The "go to" nurse gave the other nurse a look. The other nurse gave a look back. Then another nurse came over to look at the bag. And then the supervisor came over to look.

They were worried that she'd gotten an artery rather than a vein. But they told me that they weren't sure, that maybe my blood was just really well oxygenated at the time. They told me it doesn't really matter for the person receiving the blood stuff, but that they try not to use arteries because they're harder to stop the bleeding and also can hurt a bit more.

So they weren't sure.

But the bruising is impressive, isn't it? (It doesn't hurt now, but the first evening was a bit sore and swollen. I have a theory: if they have to dig around very much, then I feel sort of blah the next couple of hours. If not, then I don't feel blah at all.)


  1. Sweet Jesus, Bardiac! That's awful. I cringe just to look at that... Really, I am holding my arm in sympathy over here. Damn. Damn!

  2. Good lord -- that looks awful! Honestly, I would never want to give blood again after that experience. (I don't actually give blood anyway, I'm afraid, since I tend toward the anemic and light-headed and have passed out more than once from giving blood.) I'm impressed that you hung in there and didn't just walk out.

  3. Yowza! That happened to me once - it didn't hurt much, but I ended up with both arms looking like that, from elbow to wrist. Fortunately it was only once in many years of donations. Glad you were tough and hung in there.

    And I never knew they went for veins instead of arteries. Interesting!

  4. Oh my gosh -- that is horrible! Sending cyberhugs...

  5. Oh my gosh -- that is horrible! Sending cyberhugs...

  6. Wow--what bruises! You're a champ for going through with it. After the first "did I prick a vein or something that might cause you to bleed uncontrollably?" I'd have said "this was not meant to be" and skedaddled out of there.

  7. Ouch. That does not sound good, and I'm surprised that they kept at it. In my experience, they stop at a certain point.

    I used to give blood regularly, until the time I'd lived in the UK became a barrier. Now, thanks to Mad Cow, they won't take me. I'm a leftie, whose right arm resembles your left, and I once asked them to try to get a vein in my right arm. Hah! Not a good idea. They ended up back on my left, where they can actually see the veins...

    WV= blesse, which is an appropriately olde spelling and sentiment

  8. To be honest, it didn't look at all bad while I was there. They gave me ice to put on it, just in case (and I did).

    And once you're started, well, I guess I just go through with it. It's not that bad compared to the potential for good, and I'm an adult and all. And once they were in the vein or artery that they got, well, I think finishing off the donation makes sense.

    And the nurses there are great. They almost always get even my difficult veins really well, and they're nice about it. They try really hard not to let it hurt, I think.

  9. This sort of thing happens EVERY TIME anyone tries to take blood from me for any reason. There's always some perky nurse-person who says, "Don't worry, I always get it on the first poke." HA! Getting out with fewer than three band-aids is a victory.

  10. Aieee! I'm glad it looks worse than it feels. Thanks for keeping on keeping on.

    I have not been able to give blood in a long time; I keep traveling to places that require a year waiting, my hemoglobin level is not that of the young adult male, required for my health and safety while giving blood.

  11. Tip to anyone in this situation: Get them to go get a towel and put it under warm-hot water. Rest hot towel over vein area for a few minutes before trying again. Veins dilate to heat and pop up, get about three times as big and more visible. If you have really awful veins it might still suck, but it usually helps even in bad cases.

  12. Thanks. They usually fill a glove with warm water and use that on me. (I left that part out, though, sorry.)

  13. The same happened to me, (donating blood plasma) and I have it about one week now. Im starting to be a bit nervous, because everybody keep asking me about it :D(photo is on my blog) I hope you already got rid of that :D