If you asked me to, I wouldn't be able to count the number of times I've watched someone's blood being drawn. I've observed many a phlebotomist do their thing, and normally find it rather amusing to watch, especially when two of them team up and try to hunt along someone's arm to find a vein. Formerly a squeamish person, my time spent in an acute care hospital as an SLP quickly killed most of what I had always considered my very weak stomach.
In short, I am a pro at watching things happen to other people.
What I am not, however, is a pro at having said things happen to me.
Following the ASHA convention in San Diego, I promptly threw everything I owned into a U-Haul and moved 750 miles to start a new job. I had thought I had all the paperwork I needed, but alas I could not find my immunization records.
When I sheepishly pointed this out to the charge nurse at my employee health pre-assignment appointment today, she decreed that it was too late for me to hunt them down at home, and said "Don't worry, sweetie, we'll just draw some blood and test your antibodies that way."
As if that's supposed to reassure me.
And now we play a favorite speech game:
- Fortunately, the woman at the lab who was going to suck my blood was very nice.
- Unfortunately, it turns out I'm a hard stick.
- Fortunately, she distracted me by continuing genial conversation.
- Unfortunately, she had to dig around my arm a bit to find the vein, a process that was, for lack of a better phrase, very painful.
Long story short, I had three full test tubes worth of blood yanked from my previously untouched, full-blooded body. I hadn't eaten since 9am (and it was 1:30 by that point), and I had to rush over to HR to fill out paperwork, where I no doubt impressed the poor HR person with my delayed responses to his questions. I'm pretty sure I also asked what today's date was like five or twelve times in the space of twenty minutes.
I've spent the rest of my day in alternate states of hyperactivity followed by sudden lulls.
My point here is that I have witnessed blood being drawn on many occasions when doing speech or swallow evaluations in the hospital, and haven't given it much thought. In the grand scheme of what goes on in an acute care facility, I always assumed blood labs were pretty low key.
Now that I've experienced what it can do to myself, a person who is always on the go and rarely needs more than 6 hours of sleep to be fully rested for a day ahead, I'll likely think twice about the cognitive implications of drawing blood. I'll keep my eye out for decreased response time, or for changes in one's ability to focus. I'll remember that I, a healthy person rather than a hospitalized one, was in a completely different frame of mind and body for the rest of the day after having my own blood drawn.
Sometimes personal experience is the best teacher.
Other times, it leaves you craving a good snack.