Stay away from clumsy blood collectors

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My name is Andrea and I have small veins.

Truthfully, tiny blood vessels aren’t much of an inconvenience when it comes to regular day-to-day living. However, they can be a real hindrance when your doctor is trying to determine your B-12 levels.

Take it from me; having blood removed from your body when your veins are the size of an anorexic earthworm on a cleanse, is kind of like having your tongue shoved through a drinking straw – a bendy one.

A few years ago, on a particularly dismal day at the lab, I went in for a routine CBC (otherwise know as a clumsy blood collection). Soon after I sat down, a nurse (we’ll call her Kathy Bates) made three failed attempts on my right arm before moving on to the left. It appeared as though she had made a successful poke until I realized only two minuscule beads of plasma had been sucked into the syringe. “I think I went right through,” she said nonchalantly, before withdrawing the needle and taking another stab.

What I was thinking: Are you f&%#ing kidding me? Wait, aren't you the crazy nurse from Misery?

What I said: Is there, um, someone else who might be able to help with this?

Nurse Kathy: You have small veins. This is impossible.

What I was thinking: No shit. Seriously, are you going to break my legs too?

What I said: Yeah, I know. Could someone else…

Nurse Kathy: You look a little pale. Squeamish are you? Can I get you some orange juice?

What I was thinkingBloody Hell! I’m on a fourteen hour fast and you just poked a needle through my f&%#ing vein. Are you insane???

What I saidI’m okay thanks, I’ll just lean my head back and…

When I came to, I was horizontal and a young boy was staring up my left nostril. “Is she okay mommy?” he asked, as his mother covered his eyes and quickly whisked him away.

No wonder. I looked like a strung out, tracked-up addict.

From that day on, I decided to never subject myself to a CBC again. Then, I got pregnant and learned quite quickly that giving blood (and buckets of urine, by the way) is mandatory when with child.

Fortunately, I was introduced to Ellen the Great and Ellen the Great introduced me to “baby butterfly.” For those who don’t know, a baby butterfly is a teeny tiny needle used to procure blood from small children (and me) and Ellen the Great is my new best friend – though my steady hugs are starting to make her feel uncomfortable.

No, really.


  1. I have really bad circulation and it takes me a while to give blood, even though I have massive veins.

    My last experience getting blood work was also pretty awful, but for a different reason. I was sexually harassed by a gigantic nurse.

    And no, I'm not kidding, you can read about it if you want.

  2. Kathy Bates never made me hold her Elmer Fudd(s). I was just her pin cushion. So yeah, you win. Baybee.


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