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Would You Rather Not Be Warned?

, , , , , , | Healthy | August 5, 2022

I have a relatively common issue with my blood pressure. There are a lot of routine things that make a person’s blood pressure spike, pain being a common one. The problem for me is that my blood pressure is especially reactive and doesn’t come back to equilibrium easily; it doesn’t take much to make it spike, and then when it tries to regulate itself, it overcompensates and nosedives, instead. This isn’t dangerous, for the most part, just irritating, because it means that I faint extremely easily from relatively little stimulus — for example, getting blood drawn. I’m used to skepticism about this, but this was by far the worst example of condescension I’ve come across in a while.

Also worth mentioning is that, because I faint so frequently, it holds no dread for me. It’s not fun, but it happens. I lay there for a bit, I get up, and I get on with my day. So, even knowing that I am facing a trigger doesn’t give me any anxiety. This is just what we’re doing today.

A visit to my general doctor ends with him wanting to check my thyroid levels (because I’m blessed with both this issue and an autoimmune disease that can only be monitored through a blood draw), so a somewhat impromptu visit to the lab ensues. When I get called back, I immediately inform the phlebotomist. It’s just polite.

Me: “Oh, just so you’re aware, I have a fainting reaction, so if I could lie down for this—”

She just rolls her eyes and points me to a different room than the original one she was leading me to, presumably because there wasn’t a table in the first one. It’s not a promising start, but oh, well. I stretch out on the table and she comes back with her supplies.

Phlebotomist: “Name?”

Me: “[My Name].”

Phlebotomist: “Date of birth?”

Me: “[Date], 1989.”

Phlebotomist: “Well, about time to grow out of this, then, isn’t it?”

I just stare at her for a second. I’ve never had someone be quite this aggressive about it.

Me: “I… can’t. It’s not a psych issue; it’s physiological. I literally can’t help it.”

She gives another eye roll and sits down next to me.

Me: “Seriously, if I faint, I will probably be less bothered about it than you will.”

Phlebotomist: “Sure. Did you drink any water today? Your veins are being difficult.”

Me: “No. It’s 9:00 am and I didn’t think I was doing bloodwork today.”

Phlebotomist: “Ugh. Well, you should have. It would make this easier for both of us.”

At this point, I’m almost hoping I will faint. My eyes don’t close and it freaks people out something awful. Ironically, when she finally gets to the stick, she does so well that I don’t feel it, which means no blood pressure reaction. As soon as she pulls the needle out and has a bandage on me, I pop up from the table.

Phlebotomist: “Oh… you’re okay?”

Me: “Yeah. It’s the pinch that does it. But you did a good job and I didn’t feel anything, so I’ll be fine.”

Phlebotomist: *Looking slightly baffled* “Oh…”

Me: “Yeah, whatever. Thanks.”

I get that it’s probably frustrating to deal with people who have phobias or are just extremely pain-averse — not that you shouldn’t treat those people with compassion, too, as being snippy with them is only going to make the anxiety worse — but I don’t think I could possibly have looked and sounded more nonchalant for the entire exchange. She still acted like I was throwing a toddler tantrum. I’m sorry my blood pressure is a drama queen, but skip the attitude, maybe?

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