Blood draw experience: This morning I had an... - Thyroid UK

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Blood draw experience

helvella profile image

This morning I had an appointment for a blood draw - annual thyroid plus Full Blood Count.

The person who did the draw was very pleasant, competent, and has actually done it without any obvious bruising. So am happy enough.

But I did find it difficult for a moment because, as she reached out, her left arm was shaking all over the place. It truly looked to me like a Parkinson's tremor. Not exactly confidence-inspiring. Made me look at her right arm, the one with the needle, with some anxiety! But that was much less shaky.

Because she demonstrated a successful draw, one that was better than quite a few I have had, it made me reflect on the possibility that she has overcome some issue to do a decent job. Far from being concerned, perhaps I should have trusted that she was perfectly able to do her job?

Made me realise how easy it is to misjudge a situation - even if only fleetingly.

I also asked about availability of blood draw tubes. She said they are still in short supply, but they are getting enough through now to manage. Apparently they use a different yellow tube here to some other places, so have not been as badly affected.

44 Replies

I wouldn’t feel too guilty. You were needing to look after yourself in that situation. We have all had reason to mistrust health professionals unfortunately. Luckily she was fine but I would have felt nervous too. Maybe she could have explained herself if she has a condition to put peoples mind at rest.

The 'shaky' ones are naturally more careful .......It's the ones who look too confident you have to lookout for .... i've still got an arm that looks like it's gone 10 rounds with Joe Bugner ... from an encounter with an 'unshaky' phlebotomist.. weeks ago.

It's the same with people in cars .... the ones in tiny vans with no bonnet ,who know they've got duff brakes .... drive real careful. The ones in nice safe Volvo's don't give a **** .

Made me realise how easy it is to misjudge a situation - even if only fleetingly.

Yes. I try hard to avoid falling into the trap of making unfair assumptions of others, because it has been done to me many times, especially within health care settings! And it never feels good. But despite that, I do fall short myself on occasion when jumping to conclusions about other people.

I think it's a bit about attention and cognitive bias at times. Things like being in a rush, having a lot of information to take in or tasks to perform at once, having a lot of responsibility, or being in a slightly vulnerable position - (being sick, or undertreated and brain foggy) can aid us in making cookie cutter judgements about other people and their competence. The bias can be also caused by previous negative experience transferred to others.

I think it's shows great determination to be a phlebotomist with a transparent tremor!

Wasn't aware there was a blood tube shortage yikes!

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to Alanna012

The blood tube shortage was discussed here (and everywhere else) a few months ago. :-)

I think there is a lot of truth in this...

Being cautious!
helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to DippyDame

I'm not entirely sure about that... :-)

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to helvella

I am .. : )

i doubt myself a lot.

DippyDame profile image
DippyDame in reply to helvella

"Doubt" may be the wrong word here....I'd say "caution"....see my comment under pic,

I rather agree with tatty!!

Sorry, a bit off topic!!

Glad you had a successful blood draw.

thyr01d profile image
thyr01d in reply to DippyDame

Thanks for this, I absolutely love it

I recently encountered a "one arm only" phlebotomist at the hospital who said she couldn't take blood from the left arm that I had proferred as she was left handed. I couldn't get my head around this and against my better judgement I let her draw blood from my right one and seriously you would have thought she had taken a hammer to it. Had to go again last week and yes it was the "hammer thrower" herself and I once again I proferred my left arm and she said she couldn't do that arm because of the way the chair was positioned. Yes, I jumped up to move the chair but she was having none of it, so I suggested we move to another room but she wouldn't contemplate that either so I jumped up and put on my coat whereby she quickly got a nurse to come and do it. I knew the NHS were having problems but a phlebotomist who can only take blood from one arm doesn't exactly inspire confidence in a patient.

MorecambeBay profile image
MorecambeBay in reply to Delgor

It’s not funny I know. It can be very off putting. However, if you’ve had lymph node removal after BC, you’re told never to have a blood draw from that side.

Phlebotomists must get very fed up with ‘one armed’ patients, especially when they’ve got their room and chair organised for the other side. 💉💉💉

Delgor profile image
Delgor in reply to MorecambeBay

Thanks for that bit of info Morcambe as I was never told that (my lymph nodes were removed from my right arm) - were you ever given a reason why?

MorecambeBay profile image
MorecambeBay in reply to Delgor

Spread. It isn’t always done - perhaps yours weren’t. They take the first (sentinel) node and examine that. If that shows signs of cancer they take more until they’ve got them all.

Delgor profile image
Delgor in reply to MorecambeBay

I had 10 lymph nodes removed from my right arm as the bc was in my right breast. What I don't understand or whether it's me being thick is why were you told not to have a blood draw done from the affected arm - I'm just interested as I always prefer the left arm as have ended up with severe bruising on my right arm in the past?

MorecambeBay profile image
MorecambeBay in reply to Delgor

I was told and I had a pamphlet. No blood draws and no BP. There is a risk, albeit not too high, of infection in that arm because of absent lymph nodes

Delgor profile image
Delgor in reply to MorecambeBay

Oh wow - my op was 25 years ago and I was never told that but there again I wasn't even told that being on Tamoxifen would cause me to have an early menopause either or that I should try and look after my bones - eek!

MorecambeBay profile image
MorecambeBay in reply to Delgor

That’s not good enough is it Delgor? If they can’t take proper care of us they could at least make sure that we have all the information that we need

Delgor profile image
Delgor in reply to MorecambeBay

I feel very let down by doctors over the years and let's be honest we wouldn't be on this forum now if we were receiving proper care. It's unfortunate that when I need the NHS the most they are knee deep in prioritising covid cases and now GP's are being told to almost suspend normal duties for a while to concentrate on booster jabs is really quite scary.


MorecambeBay profile image
MorecambeBay in reply to Delgor

I had a telephone consultation with my doctor yesterday. I’ve known him many years. He sounded very ‘down’ and said they were being asked to make impossible choices.

Delgor profile image
Delgor in reply to MorecambeBay


thyr01d profile image
thyr01d in reply to MorecambeBay

Oh that is so sad.

Mollyfan profile image
Mollyfan in reply to Delgor

The reason is that the risk of swelling and infection is higher in the arm where lymph nodes have been removed. Best avoided but often absolutely fine.

Delgor profile image
Delgor in reply to Mollyfan

Thanks Mollyfan - I didn't know how to thank both you and Morcambe Bay at the same time. Well my op was 25 years ago so it's probably a bit late now to be worrying over it but maybe that's why I tended to get severe bruising if blood was taken from that arm. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to Delgor

for a minute there i thought you were talking about a "one armed phlebotomist ".. now that would be clever :)

TSH110 profile image
TSH110 in reply to tattybogle

Me too!

Delgor profile image
Delgor in reply to tattybogle

Yes, I must admit even as I wrote it I wondered if I had made it clear


tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to Delgor

anyway. being left handed is no excuse .. all the right handed phlebotomists can do both arms. I'm a lefty and i must say it means i'm more ambidextrous than most right handers, If i'm sawing wood i just change hand when one arm get's tired... and i change hands with a tennis racket. because i'm better at backhands .. so i hit everything backhand .. which really pisses people off for some reason ... don't know why .. it's not my fault they can only use one hand.

Jenny583 profile image
Jenny583 in reply to tattybogle

Iv'e never tried sawing wood with a tennis racket, but my experiences with amazon bow saws has me wondering if I might have more luck with rackets, left or right handed...

tattybogle profile image
tattybogle in reply to Jenny583

lol :)

I am too! I used to be one of the first to be chosen for rounders teams at school because I used to be able to hit the ball with either hand, forward or backhand! Fielders didn’t know where to stand and I always scored! I can still use both hands for most tasks now. I was one of those lefties made to be a righty in school and although I resented it at the time, it has stood me in good stead over the years… 😁👐

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to Zephyrbear

I'd never thought of it like this before, but I must also be truly ambidextrous.

I pretty much can't hit, catch or throw a ball with either hand - or foot. :-)


Zephyrbear profile image
Zephyrbear in reply to helvella

😂🤣😂Rounders was the only one I could really do well… I was team goalie in hockey, basically because I used to trip over my own feet when I tried to run and, like the rounders bat, I was quite useful with the hockey stick 🏑 and boots! I was useless at netball and ditto at tennis 🎾

Yea :) .... . confusing the fielders , they really don't like it do they.

I was a Hockey goalie too.. because running up and down always gave me stitch , and you were allowed to wear nice warm trackie bottoms under your pads in goal , and no one can hurt your shins ... and i noticed you were allowed into the changing rooms (with your mates! ) at lunchtime to put that white stuff on your pads... "no really Miss .. it does take 4 of us an hour to do it " We played the teachers sometimes.... I kicked a shot back out without stopping it first.... straight onto the french teacher's shin and cracked it... then he gave me crap marks in french for a term. very un-sportsmanlike behaviour i thought.

I learned to write with my right hand in the summer holidays between juniors and seniors, but only because when we graduated to ink pens from pencil i kept smudging it.. and both the teacher and my mum said "we don't think you should change hands , it's a bad idea, just change the angle you write at," ... so of course i changed hands.

mind you, a weird thing then happened to my brain.. i suddenly became able to do mirror writing with both hands at once...... forwards with the right/ backwards with the left .... and i slowly became more right footed.

I'm better at some tasks with one hand than the other , but i can use either for anything .... throwing far is best with the right ..... throwing accurately is better with the left.

Brains are weird things .

OMG!!! Totally ditto! I was allowed to wear jeans under my pads for hockey! And I’m completely with you on the writing and throwing thing as my dog will readily testify!

funny isn't it .. i think everyone would benefit from learning to use the other hand when young... (or old?) because it clearly makes new brain connections that affect how you use your whole body... which would probably reduce the amount of 'overuse' injuries and lopsided postures ......( but then, i also think everyone should be made to ride a motorbike before they are allowed a car licence.. so my ideas might not be popular)

I wouldn’t necessarily agree on the motorbike theory… I’ve lost a few friends in the past in fatal accidents. I did learn to ride one (a Norton 700!🤣)but it’s not something I enjoyed at all and riding pinion was even worse! Give me the car any day!

Oops, we seem to have hijacked this post a tad, haven’t we? 😂

a commando ? i don't say they should enjoy it..... just learn how to do it , to give them some idea of how vulnerable /invisible bikers are before they are allowed to drive around in a volvo /tank :)

Yep, a Commando that belonged to a boyfriend. He had to hold it up for me while I got on it cos it was so heavy… scared the bejesus out of me! You obviously don’t like Volvos… 😂I feel the same about Audis!🤣

Grannie's on bikes....

Get Off the back Albert , I want some Fun !
SeasideSusie profile image
SeasideSusieAdministrator in reply to Delgor

I had a blood test last week. Chair was to the left of the desk so right arm would be on the desk for blood draw. Nurse asked which arm I would prefer, I answered "left please". She promptly fetched a nice plump pillow from the examination couch, put it on my lap to rest my left arm on, did blood draw quickly and easily with no problems.

Delgor profile image
Delgor in reply to SeasideSusie

She obviously had a problem Susie of some description but I still can't work out what it was!

SeasideSusie profile image
SeasideSusieAdministrator in reply to Delgor

Some people just like to be in a position of power 🙄, good for you for getting up and putting your coat on, she'd probably never met anyone before who wasn't kowtowing to her desires!


Thanks Helvella, such an interesting post, we all make assumptions like this sometimes, wouldn't it be good if we could all do as you did and become aware?

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