20 October 2010

Blood Work

I was at the hospital immunodeficiency clinic this morning for my two-week visit in the context of a study in which I am participating. The study is to measure the impact of a program of vaccinations on the CD4+ count and is not – for a refreshing change of pace – linked with proving that any particular pharmaceutical product is not worse than another.

Considering that I had twelve tubes to fill with my blood, I thought I would take advantage of this opportunity to share this part of my medical follow-up. Yes, this one is in the context of a study and involves a few more tubes of blood than usual – usual being more like seven or eight – but the process is the same.

Have a look, as long as you aren't squeamish about needles or blood:

Some notes about this process and its place in my life, perhaps?

I have blood draw for my usual follow-up every three months, but this will be a little more frequent while I am participating in this study. I have to be fasting for the blood work…no eating for 12-14 hours before going in.

I have 'travelling veins' (veines fuyantes), meaning that the process of finding one that will stay in place for the needle to pierce it and to get blood from it can be much more difficult than this was today. It is not unusual for it to take two or three tries to get the right thing happening. Good thing I'm not afraid of needles! In fact, I prefer to watch it go in, rather than looking away as some people do. Also on this veins issue: the phlebotomist (yes, that's the title, not vampire) does start with gloves on, but sometimes has to remove a glove in order to really locate the vein. She doesn't take other chances, though, so no possible needle stick contamination.

The contraption used is designed to make the process easier on me: a butterfly thingy around the needle with a flexible tube leading to the interface with the blood tubes. That way, when the vacuum tube is full and changed out for another, there is no jarring of the needle in my arm.

Thanks to my very able, kind and pleasant phlebotomist for allowing me to film about half of today's experience (I ran out of space on my camera's memory card).


BobL said...

Oy, Ken. You trying to give me the eeby-jeebies?

Seriously, I'm a look away kind of guy. But I have taken photos like this before; it doesn't seem quite so bad when you're looking through a viewfinder.

Ken Monteith said...

That's why I gave the content warning, Bob. And why I like digital cameras, too...you can hold it off to the side and get the real view while filming! ;-)

David McHep c said...

Hummm! You have given me an idea. I'm not too sure how my clinic would react to filming. I'll make sure I have a fresh memory card if I do. I'm kind of both when it comes to looking or not looking. As a recovering junky I have no issues about watching a needle go into my arm. I sometimes look away just as they put the needle in but then I watch as the tubes fill up. I'll watch and guide them when they are having a difficult time which is often now. I used to have "Rolling Veins" as they called mine. Now I just seem to have "Hiding Veins" since we can never seem to find them anymore. It is a tedious process of jabbing around until we find something. I'll have to try and do tally of how many times I've done this. Diagnosed in 1985, having blood taken every three months and sometimes more often since then. I sometimes wonder how many times I've been poked by the vampires. That's right, I called them vampires. I don't believe in the traditional vampires so these phlebotomist will have to do. What is the word that they have their doors again there? I never saw that word until I moved to Quebec. Here it just says Lab, or something similar.

Danielle said...

From your phebotomist: Thak you for the nice things you said about me! Your a fine patient! See you in two weeks?

Ken Monteith said...

You deserve every compliment. And yes, back in two weeks for a lot more than today's one tube...