Apr 23rd, 2008

The Needle and the Damage Done

I used to have veins that made junkies weep in jealousy. Big old things, they stuck up and were fat and healthy. I donated blood regularly, and the hematologists were always happy to have me and my veins on their tables. I could fill a bag and be gone before the person on the next table had even pumped a quarter of a bag. But those were the happy days before Hurricane Andrew. After the storm, there were calls for blood, so I drove through the wreckage up to Mercy Hospital in Coconut Grove and offered up my type B.

Unfortunately, either the hematologists were traumatized, or they weren’t really hematologists because despite the garden hoses in my arms, they couldn’t get a vein. At least two people took the needles to me, and at least two people drove spikes through my veins and left me with hematomas and bruises. And veins that are collapsed. I haven’t been able to donate blood since. In fact, I can barely squeeze enough out to fill a vial for blood work during my physicals.

And I made that clear today to the girl who was about to draw blood. Don’t waste your time going in the elbow, I told her. You need to use a baby needle and do an old-fashioned draw, manually. You can’t use the kind of draw that fills automatically, because they won’t. She smiled at me, and tied me off. She tapped the bulges in my elbow joint. Oh, nice veins, she said and drove in the hollow railroad spike that they call a needle. And dug it around. And around. And around. And finally looked at me and said, huh. I’m in your vein, and nothing is coming out. I guess you were right.

I guess I was. So she found a baby needle, and drove it into my wrist. I promptly filled up two vials for the blood sucking fiend. Why do I even waste my breath?