An open letter to nurses

Before I begin, thank you. I do appreciate and respect what you do, and nothing that follows should diminish that; I realize that the situation I am about to describe doesn't stem from any sort of malice, but, rather, a very well-deserved pride in your professional abilities.

What I want to ask is that you take my word for it when I ask you to draw blood from my hand. Yes, I know it's more painful. Normally. Unfortunately for me, it's become more than obvious that you will never be able to get blood any other way. My making this request is not a challenge for you to find the elusive non-rolling vein that lies somewhere buried in the fat of my inner arm. I don't care how much you call other nurses who tried, got frustrated, bruised me, and failed unprofessional, it doesn't mean that you will succeed. Trust me - it's not you, it's my veins.

So you called my bluff like all the rest - said you found one. You failed. At least you had the decency to look shame-faced while apologizing before heading off to the hand. Thing is, at this point the damage has been done and it's only going to get worse. As someone who has spent about 20 hours under the tattoo gun and have run out of fingers to count past and present piercings on, I know how to mentally prepare for needles and pain; what I can't prepare for is the unexpected, or even expected pointless pain. My tattoo artist or piercer would never jab around my arm trying to do something I'd already told them not to do - I trust them. At this point, I have lost my trust in you.

You dig into the hand. Things are going ok, and I am trying to breathe evenly, but I feel the white hot sensation all over my body, rushing into my ears and eyes, that means I will soon pass out if you don't stop. I wait as long as I can before telling you this - until you jiggle the needle and send a flame of pain through my hand. I need to lie down. Yes, I want a glass of water - thanks for fanning me. Funny enough, I am the one who is deeply embarrassed at this point for lacking the control to avoid this, either by not having tried hard enough to stop you, or by maintaining better focus.

A few minutes later, prone, I am ready to let you finish the last two vials. You laugh and say next time I should tell the nurse right off the bat that I need to lie down. I resist the urge to tell you that the mini nap never would have happened if my initial request had been respected. It's not the loss or sight of blood that gets me, it's a fear of this ritual repeating and being drawn out every single time. It's tiresome being made to feel over and over again that you assume I just don't know what I'm talking about, and that you need to show me. You do show me - that I'm right.

So, please - everything else you do is wonderful - you just need to learn that we, as patients, know a bit about our bodies and comfort zones. So, it's long sleeves for me tomorrow and the inevitable questions about why my hands are purple.

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