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Does Anyone Else Suddenly Have Sweaty Palms?

, , , , , | Healthy | January 17, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: Needles

 

I’ve had a chronic illness since I was a baby, which has caused me to experience a lot of medical tests and treatments. When I was thirteen, I had a medical event and started breathing abnormally. My mom had to call 911, and I was taken to a children’s hospital. I was immediately admitted and put in a private room. I had a few tests, was put on oxygen, and was hooked up to a bunch of monitors. Then, a new nurse came in.

Nurse: *Visibly nervous* “Hi. I’m going to take some blood today.”

Me: “Okay, it’s no problem. I’m used to bloodwork and stuff.”

The nurse continued to look uncomfortable and started shuffling around the room, getting out supplies. I noticed that the needle he pulled out was really unusual, as it was extremely large and wasn’t an IV needle, which is what is usually used for blood work when someone is admitted to a hospital.

He sat down, and I could see that his hands were shaking violently. He put a large white towel under my arm and cleaned my entire arm with orange antiseptic, the kind used for surgical sites.

Me: “Why are you using that? Why not just use the regular alcohol wipes?”

He didn’t answer but started putting a tourniquet on my arm and handed me a stress ball.

Nurse: “Squeeze that as hard as you can.”

The nurse unwrapped the needle and I could fully see the size of it. It was enormous, and my heart started pounding. I’d never seen a needle like it, despite having constant IVs and blood draws throughout my life.

The nurse was now trembling like a leaf in the wind.

Nurse: “This is going to hurt… a lot. Stay still; that’s really important. Don’t move at all, even if it hurts.”

Me: “Okay…”

I was terrified. I had no idea what was going on or why a simple blood draw would hurt so badly.

Nurse: “Breathe in… and out…”

As I let my breath out, the nurse (still with shaking hands) held my wrist down and plunged the needle into my forearm. It was put in at a strange angle, pretty much at a full ninety degrees, and was stuck in very deep and forcefully. I was immediately overwhelmed with pain, my vision started tunneling, and it took every molecule of effort I had not to move or scream. It seemed like it took forever, but eventually, the tubes filled with blood and he pulled the needle out. Then, he just bandaged my arm and left, without acknowledging anything that had just happened.

I was fully weirded out by the entire experience. I was certain, at the time, that the nurse was incompetent or something, especially since he seemed so nervous.

It wasn’t until a full eight years later that I found out what even happened! I recently requested a copy of my records from that hospital and saw the write-up from that visit. I was floored to see that the test they were actually performing was an arterial blood gas (ABS)! In the test, a large needle is put straight into an artery, and it is considered to be extremely painful — so painful that it is unethical to perform it on anyone without giving them local anesthetic first. Not only was I not given local anesthetic (AS A CHILD AT A CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL), but nobody bothered to even explain what was going to happen, what test they were performing, or that it was any different than a regular blood draw or IV.

It truly was one of the most memorable (and horrible) things I’ve ever experienced in a medical setting, and I never went back to that hospital.

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