It has now been two years of writing myself TSH prescriptions and heading down to the laboratory for a phlebotomy venipuncture of my arm. What have I learned? I've come to the conclusion that experience doesn't mean jack for phlebotomists. Why do I say this? Because I've had some fresh new phlebotomists venipuncture my arm with no problem and no pain. I've had others claim to do it for years and dig around like it's their first time.
Here's a picture of my arm below after my last phlebotomy venipuncture.
Phlebotomist: I've been doing this for 30 years. You won't feel a thing
That's a lot of confidence to have lady, considering that you gave me the largest hematoma in the history of my short lab life. I used to donate plasma while in medical school for a little extra money. I'd just grab a book and go down for a couple of hours and study while all the near homeless, borderline alcoholic and tobacco stained public poured in from the bus stop to sit in their captain's chair and watch Jerry Springer while big business leached them of their dignity. I thought of it as an opportunity to mingle with my future patient population. During those couple of years of donations, I developed a small needle track on my arm. You can see it clear as day in my picture. I can always tell which of my patients donate plasma by that single identifying mark in their antecubital space. It's like a plasma donation tattoo.
I always tell the phlebotomy people to do their venipuncture through that scar. They can't miss, ever. It's like a gastroenterologist doing their upper endoscopy but missing the mouth. Or the cardiologist doing an LV gram with the cathther in the left ventricle, but missing the left ventricle. You just can't miss. Ever. It's impossible. Just do the phlebotomy venipuncture through the scar and everything will be fine. No. Not this lady. She's confident in her skills. She decides to take a medial approach and jab me in no man's land. Thirty years she's been doing this. It might as well have been three hours. I don't know what kind of phlebotomy venipuncture schooling or training is required to do this kind of thing. A search of Amazon shows venipuncture training arms for sale. Maybe that's how they train. Maybe they should make some of the these models fully equipped with plasma donation landmark scars for all those really experienced ones with all the confidence.