Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ode to A Phlebotomist [poem]

Ode to A Phlebotomist

Relief when she can slip the needle
in nice and clean – one quick, dull sting.
Butterfly is best for coy veins like mine.
Rollers, she says.  Little tricksters like
toddlers she peeps before they run
and hide. Small, incorrigible.
She’s after them with the queasy
smell and snap of rubber,
the tourniquet, the squeezy
ball she plops in my palm. 
Make a fist when I have no fight.
Rip the pouch, single swipe of swab,
alcohol’s dizzy headache fume,
crook of my arm burns and sings blood
in whispers.  I don’t give easy,
this one fluid. 


I couldn't look at my own arm for a week.

I cannot begin to tell you the anxiety I had writing this poem. 

I have tiny, tiny, tiny little veins that shrivel up and run and scream Nooooooooo when I'm about to have blood drawn or have an IV inserted.  Once the needle is in, my blood seeps out like molasses that doesn't want to get its toes cold. 

It is ridiculous.

It is ridiculous and painful and I have a needle phobia.

Too bad I end up in the ER a lot. (See the previous post.)

Every time I go to the ER, there's going to be a needle involved.  I am a ball of panic and must muster up all my big girl panties into one massive wedge-y of big girl panty-ness to get through it.  But get through it I must because my heart rate is beyond all limits of normalcy when I show up there. 

Also, they sometimes give me Ativan and warm blankets.  The warm blankets are divine. 

When you get a good nurse, a nurse or phlebotomist who really, really knows what they are doing, and are kind and/or funny, and patient and confident and sweet and understanding, it makes all the difference. 

There is a wide, wide range of experience in the world of being the phlebotomist's pin cushion.

Pressing, moving the needle, pulling the needle, pushing the needle, taking the needle completely out and trying another spot, going for the wrist, going for the hand.....

My body is a clench of anxiety just thinking/writing/typing blogging about it. 

I cannot believe I wrote a poem about this horror.  I can't believe I got through it.

But actually, writing the poem helped me focus on poetics, on the mechanics of the poem, which was the equivalent of breathing into a brown bag for a poet with anxiety disorder(s). 

This poem was written on October 18, 2014 as part of Tupelo Press's 30/30 Project.

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