Tag Archives: Relationships

Court and Spark

blood drop
I think it’s time I talked about my relationship with phlebotomists.

Simply put, they love me.

Not because I make their life easy, but because I am a challenge.

I have lousy veins. They are tiny, always moving around, stingy and aloof. They play very very hard to get. And phlebotomist love this.

Oh how they woo me.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Next time you’re getting the blood sucked out of you take a look around that tiny office. Are there cute cartoons about phlebotomists? Dracula pictures? A plethora of holiday tchotchkes? Photo shopped pictures of the phlebotomist’s face imposed on Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Dolly Parton, Einstein, SpongeBob? Inspirational quotes like “No pressure, no diamonds.” Face it, these people have way too much time on their hands. And they have a lot of professional pride. I bet there are wild Phlebotomy Conventions in Las Vegas where the blood jokes are nonstop and they swap war stories about the screaming child, the 90-year-old diabetic, the ex-heroin addict, and me.

I know all their tricks. The fist pump, the double tourniquet, the butterfly needle. They tap at the bend in my arm like it’s a hidden passageway in a wall. They wink at me, call my veins, baby. Com’on baby I’ve almost gottcha. The ones that stick me and have to pull out – they’re mortified. They give me a million rationalizations, switch arms, take an extra long time to find a vein, then go at me with just a hint of sweat at their brow. When they see blood coming through that tube it’s like they found gold. The mother load. Some of them try to cover up their relief, some of them act like conquistadors, others do a little end zone dance. The insecure ones tap around both arms, get awkward and nervous and go after the veins on the back of my hand. They leave huge purple bruises in their wake and act like it was no big deal. Like that’s just the way it’s done. But I know better. They are hiding behind serious performance anxiety. No, it was not good for me.

When I was trying to get pregnant the first time it took two and a half years. I was taking fertility drugs, inseminating, and getting my blood drawn constantly. I had so much blood drawn I could have started my own bank. And I had so many phlebotomists I stopped counting. In those days I would watch. I would be the one talking to my veins, com’on baby. Two teenage daughters later, my visits to the phlebotomist have scaled back. Now my blood delivers different news about cholesterol and iron and glucose. My blood tells me I have the Vitamin D levels of a coal miner. My blood says I’m getting old. These days I turn my head away and let the phlebotomist work their mojo without me. My veins are as coy as ever, but my skin is not as thick as it used to be.

I think I should stop flitting around from phlebotomist to phlebotomist. I should find one I can truly trust and let them get to know my veins in a way no one else has been able to. But it’s hard to let down my guard, to open up. No matter how many times I’ve sat in that chair, met someone new and held my breath anticipating their moves, I know in the end they’re just going to stick it to me.



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Woke up at 3 AM, got up to pee, staggered to and from the bathroom, crawled back into bed, fought with my pillow for 45 minutes and lost. Wound up in front of my computer too dazed and confused to face the World Wide Web, so I decided to blog. It’s been awhile since I’ve been here, and it feels strange, like I’m a contestant on Dancing With the Stars only I’m not a star and I can’t dance (oh wait, that’s actually everyone on Dancing With the Stars). It feels especially strange in the middle of the night with only the hum of my computer and an Edger Allen Poe ticking sound emanating from the house somewhere. And I’ve been away so long something has happened to the Word Press formatting so I’m typing in plain text with random code popping up when I try to italicize. What’s up with that?

Usually I’m pretty good with the sleep thing. Truth is, I kind of love to sleep. Thick, dreamy, bottomless sleep. For someone whose primary coping mechanism is escape, what’s not to love? I hate missing sleep. I feel cheated out of something that I can never get back. It’s not the same to tack on a few hours the next night or to take a nap. It’s like missing the middle of a movie – if you watch that part the next day you experience the movie in a completely different way than if you watched it from start to finish.

You hear a lot about our relationship with food. How we nourish or abuse or fret or sabotage or indulge or languish over food. Magazine articles, books, talk shows, and therapists tell us how to work on our relationship with food in the same way we work on our relationship with lovers or parents or children or co-workers. But rarely do we hear about our relationship with sleep. Sleep is our mistress. Oh, she gets some attention from the health gurus and the mattress salesmen. But she definitely takes a backseat to food. Personally I would like to break up with food and start seeing sleep. Start talking about her with my friends and family. Buy her sexy lingerie and take her away for the weekend. Marry her, make her mine, grow old with her by my side and die before she does. Yep, I want the whole enchilada (oh wait, that’s my relationship with food creeping in).

It’s 5 AM. The alarm is set for 6. I have to either shower and get on with the day or go back for a few stolen moments with sleep. What would you do?


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