Blood Draws for Total Babies (like me!)
I’m a total baby when it comes to having blood drawn. It goes back to long before diabetes, but my panic over having lab work was exacerbated when I was dehydrated and having hourly draws nearly two years ago.
On Friday, I needed to go in to get regular testing done, including
losing giving 3 vials of blood and peeing in a cup (having diabetes is all fun and games, didn’t you know?). Because of Good Friday, I ended up with the afternoon off so I headed out to the lab. When I got there, I thought I’d have to wait for a long time because there were several people in the waiting area. I didn’t even wait 5 minutes, come to find out all of the waiting room people were waiting on people who were already being seen. I was the only one there on my own which was strange.
Anyway, Friday’s draw was by far the best experience I’ve had since I put into practice the things I’d learned from past bad experiences… and I thought I’d share my tips for anyone who might be a bit of a wimp when it comes to blood work… like me.
- If you are not required to fast for your blood work, don’t. Being low on energy then having blood drawn is a recipe for bad news. If your blood work is fasting, eat a snack before bedtime and go early in the morning. Take a snack along for directly after.
- Be well-hydrated. The more water I’ve had before a draw, the easier it’s gone. Dehydrated Rachel veins like to collapse and I end up getting poked more times than necessary. I gulped down 3 big glasses of water right before leaving on Friday and only had to be poked once. As a bonus, if you have to have a urine test as well, you’ll be prepared.
- Don’t think about it. When you know you have to go, think about something else beforehand. I have a horrible habit of psyching myself out beforehand. Listening to music on the way in and reading my Twitter feed in the waiting room helped a lot.
- Be friendly. If you feel comfortable with the person drawing your blood, it’ll probably be easier. I have a tendency to pass out during draws, so I’m upfront about the fact that I don’t do well with blood draws. I tell the phlembotomist, “I’m not very good when it comes to blood draws. But I do better if I talk.”
- Talk. Or somehow be distracted while your blood is being drawn. Do anything but watch. I let them know that I’m a talker, usually the person doing the draw will talk to me and ask unrelated questions, once the lady who was going to do my draw let me know that she’s not a talker so she got a nurse to come chat with me.
- Don’t be picky unless you need to be. I used to ask for my draws to come from my left arm because I’m right-handed. But honestly, I my right arm is a much better target for them. If you have issues with a draw site that you know of, then be picky.
- Take someone with you. I refused to drive myself to get my blood drawn for the longest time because I was so nervous. Knowing that you have a buddy can help you stay calm. It doesn’t work out for me to take someone with me anymore, but on Friday after my draw I knew I’d be picking up coffee and heading down the road to drop in on Brad, so that helped.
- Ask for what you need. Most of the time they’ll offer juice, cookies or crackers to you if you’re flushed. On Friday I was offered a whole kitchen, but all I really needed was water so they brought me some and I bounced right back.
- Relax. Everything is worse when you stress about it, so do your best to relax. The whole process will be over with quickly and you can move on with your life.
This almost became a 10-things post, but I’m out of advice. What things have you found helpful?
Please remember that I’m not a doctor, I’m just a patient so what I say isn’t medical advice. The list above probably sounds like common sense and for good reason, it’s what I found works for me. Don’t base your medical decisions only on what you read in a blog (any blog, mine included) without consulting your healthcare team.