This week I am on my phlebotomy training rotation. For those of you not medically inclined, phlebotomy means "I take your blood with a needle and a tube". How does one begin to take blood? good question. We watched a 30 minute video, practiced on a classmate (I made sure to choose a skinny girl with good veins...) and then they release us into the hospital to work on patients. Scary, isn't it? I had a patient ask me yesterday "have you ever done this before?" my prompt answer was a very firm "yes!" followed mentally but not verbally by the word "twice".
Yesterday I went with my instructor to the room of a middle-aged guy to get some of his blood. As soon as he saw us, he started insisting that my instructor was a student, that she probably didn' t have any experience, that they always send students in, that he knows better than anyone how to get blood; he never went to school for it, but he gives his wife medicine and takes her blood every day! I refrained from asking him what he did with the blood after he took it out of his wife.
My instructor ignores him or humors him and tries to get into his veins, but they're hard and rolling all over the place. The man insists that his nurse come in to get the blood, and the same thing happens again, all while the man is complaining that no one knows what they are doing in the hospital and they all must be students.
Finally, he says "give me that peice of rubber you got there!" then takes the torniquet, applies it to his own arm using his TEETH to hold one end, and says, "okay, now go on and get you some blood!" At this point only do I finally notice a big circular scar over one of his more prominent veins and it all comes together. I may be naive, but I'm pretty sure I know EXACTLY what kind of "medicine" he was injecting into his wife (and himself)