As I have gotten older, it seems my blood needs to be sampled more often to make sure my body is working correctly. I hate having my blood drawn. As embarrassing as it is to admit (since I am a medical professional), the sight of my own blood makes me weak in the knees. I don’t know why. Although I realize it is totally irrational, there’s just something about seeing my life force drained from my blood vessels that sets into motion a cascade of reactions that may result in fainting if I don’t focus on something else. I can generally avert this event from happening if I turn my head and count backward from twenty in Indonesian. Okay, I know that sounds weird. But since it has been over twenty years since I lived in Indonesia, and therefore I don’t have the recall of the language I once had, I have to concentrate really hard on this task. This exercise momentarily takes my mind off the fact that the leech in the lab is sucking me dry, and decreases the chance that I will pass out, which is totally embarrassing. However, the procedure better be over by the time I get down to the number one (or “satu” in Indonesian). Otherwise, I may throw up on their shoes. I guess this is why fasting lab work is required.

Now let me just say that as a veterinarian who can draw blood from a canary, I find it hard to understand why human phlebotomists can’t find a vein in a human being who weighs over 100 pounds and isn’t wiggling and trying to bite them. Fortunately, I am blessed with prominent veins that stand up beautifully, so there is no excuse for anyone to miss hitting my vein on the first attempt—which is good because, with my squeamishness, two tries are all they get before I snatch the needle out of their hand and do it myself. That is if I don’t pass out while stabbing myself. There’s a fine line between being so engrossed with drawing my own blood that I forget my queasiness and being grossed out from having to watch my own blood being drawn. But if I’m forced to draw my own blood (which I have done in the past), I can’t really turn my head so I don’t have to watch. It’s an enigma.

And why in human labs do they need to draw twenty-seven large vials of blood to run a blood panel? My stomach always plummets when I see the lab technician reach for a fistful of vials and the largest gauge needle. I’m surprised I didn’t need a transfusion after all the life-giving substance they drained from my veins the last time. Have we gone back a couple of centuries to where blood-letting was considered therapeutic? In the veterinary profession, we can run the same profiles with a tiny microtube of blood from which we can extract less than 1/10 of a cc of serum. (As a point of reference, this is about 1/10 of ¼ tsp.) I have to wonder what human labs do with all the unnecessary excess blood. Are technicians in a human lab so klutzy that they spill half the contents of the blood vials? Even if they spilled half, they would still have enough sample to run fifty blood profiles. Do they re-run tests fifty times to be sure the results are correct? Or do they sell the leftover two gallons of serum on the black market? It makes me wonder if I am an unknowing blood donor. If so, I’d like to be compensated for my donation, preferably in the form of money. Regardless, after my last blood work, my poor bone marrow has been working overtime to replenish what was taken from me. And at my age, my bone marrow is as decrepit as the rest of my body. It takes it a while to get going.

Unfortunately, due to an abnormal lab value from my last blood work, my doctor wants a re-test in a few weeks. I’m practicing my Indonesian.