A Little Bit About…Blood Tests

Don’t worry, this post isn’t as ominous as it sounds. I’m fortunate enough to have had very little health issues over the years, but for some reason every time I need to get blood taken, things turn eventful. It’s not that I’m scared of needles, it’s seems to be more a case of being squeamish. I think. Anyway, I have a blood test scheduled for tomorrow and it got me thinking.

The first time I properly remember getting blood taken was when I was in my teens, and I went to the doctor with my mum. I can’t quite remember what I was going for, but the doctor – a small, 5ft 6inch Irishman – decided to take some blood just to check everything was ok. He asked if I was okay with needles, I said yes (as that’s not really something you know the answer to until it’s too late) and he talked me through the process as he was doing it. Aside from what felt like a small and sharp pinch, it was as quick as lightening! He gave me some cotton wool and a plaster to put on and that was me, good to go. He told me the test results would be available in 3-5 working days, my mum and I said thanks for everything and off we went. Well, off my mum went. I on the hand only lasted about 8 seconds on my feet before feeling really dizzy and fainting.

The next time I went to the doctors to get blood taken several years later, it was a different doctor, and she too asked if I was okay with needles. I said yes. Why? Because I figured that one time I fainted was a fluke. So she took the blood, I felt fine, we exchanged some small talk while she cleaned my arm up, gave me a plaster and off I went. This time I made it to the waiting room where my boyfriend of the time was waiting on me. He asked how it went, and I started to tell him as we stood in line at reception to make a follow up appointment. Then BOOM, the room started spinning, I started to feel faint and down I went. Funny thing was (I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was NOT happy), for some reason his instinct was to catch my handbag instead of me!

The time after that was with a nurse who, as seems to be usual procedure, asked me if I was okay with needles. Guess what I said? “Yes, no problem whatsoever”. Why? Well, I lasted a whole 8 minutes without fainting the last time, this time would surely be a doddle I thought to myself. It wasn’t. I didn’t actually faint this time, but I did ask the nurse if I could have a couple of minutes before getting up as I felt a bit dizzy. She took my blood pressure and it was really low, so she let me lie down for 15 minutes before checking on me again. When she did, she took my blood pressure again. This time it was through the roof, so she told me to stay lying down for another 15 minutes until it stabilised. The next time she came back to check on me, the blood pressure monitor just showed two little dashes like this – – as it couldn’t even find my blood pressure this time!! So I had to stay lying down again. 45 minutes later I was finally cleared to go!

And so on and so on. Will I ever learn? I consider myself a very honest and truthful person. Yet when a doctor or nurse asks me how I am with needles, I seem to turn into a pathological liar. Thinking of making a t-shirt to wear tomorrow saying “Ignore me when I say I’m okay with needles, I’m not”. What do you think?

Joking aside, I’ve luckily gotten to know the nurses at my local surgery really well over the last few years since living in Spain. They don’t let me lie. They don’t even ask me anymore, they simply make me lie down from the word go and distract me with all kinds of stories until they’ve done the test and enough time has passed for me to feel ok. I guess being the only Scottish patient makes me memorable. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up for debate!


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