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Phlebotomists' Rituals

Have you ever noticed the various rituals and incantations that phlebotomists use? Do they belong to different cults or denominations of the Sacred Society of Phlebotomists?

I went to a doctor's office today and had an encounter there with a pleasant and very kind young woman of the phlebotomist persuasion. Now a brief bit of my personal history will be needed here before we can continue our enquiry.

I have long had an irrational fear of being poked with needles. Injections were tolerated slightly better than extractions -- but either one of them induced a great deal of stress and on occasion was the cause of me fainting in the middle of the procedure.

My wife discovered a strategy to improve the success of these encounters: keep me distracted during the process so I am less aware of the great injustice that is being inflicted upon my body. This works well, and I've trained myself to look away and focus my attention elsewhere during the procedure.

Her medical history is much more voluminous than mine and she has survived certainly several hundred of these procedures, most with only slight and brief pain. She does not cower in fear at the merest hint that a blood sample may be required.

Now back to the rituals and incantations. A very common one is some variation of "is this a good spot?". I sometimes reply with something like "I don't have this done often enough to have enough data to answer that question". Today I was asked "where is a good place?" and my reply was "I've never done this myself so I have no idea." And the rituals: sometimes they apply a rubber strap around my upper arm, sometimes it is "make a tight fist" and other times "relax your arm", today it was "stretch your arm out as straight as you can". Sometimes it gets physical, with the technician slapping or massaging my arm in an attempt to find the best place for their needle. The needle has ended up in the back of my hand, sometimes in the middle of my forearm, sometimes in the crook of my elbow, and possibly even in my upper arm.

My wife, with her greater experience, confidently extends her arm and points to the exact spot that works best. I just want to blurt out "I don't know! You're the professional, why are you asking me?" Hmmm... perhaps I should pay more attention to what they're doing and why -- maybe someday I'll have better responses, and better results.

๐Ÿ“… c: 2024-04-19 09:55 โœ๏ธ e:

๐Ÿท tags: #medical #lessons #attention #avoidance

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