the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The perils of being an adult

Recently our financial advisor told us that we needed to apply for more life insurance since we added that second kid. At first I thought he might know something I didn’t. Like, maybe second kids are more likely to kill their parents than the first kid.

Or maybe he’s reading my blog and worried that Marlo really is going to set the house on fire. Ray, we only let her play with matches in the bathtub, so, rest easy!

We first applied for life insurance back in 2006 as part of our estate planning, and you should click on that link just so that you have a reference point for what I’m about to show you. When you apply for life insurance some lovely person comes to your home, draws your blood and collects your urine to make sure that you’re not participating in illegal and/or potentially deadly activities. Hint: when they ask you if you sky dive and that happens to be what you did before breakfast, LIE. They can’t detect that in your pee!

If the insurance company is reading this right now, please know that I would not ever jump out of a plane. I get scared when I’m standing beside the railing on the second story of a mall.

The woman who drew our blood in 2006 gave both of us bruises. Now, I have had my blood drawn a multitude of times in my life. Never have I bruised as a result of this procedure, so you can understand that I made a mental note in my head of what this woman looked like. Just in case that bruise turned into a coma. So that when I came out of that coma I could point her out in a line-up.

Imagine my excitement to see this exact woman approaching my front door on Friday morning. YAY! So happy to see her! Especially since I got rejected that first time because of a urinary tract infection. Her face will always remind me of peeing fire and sternly worded rejection letters. I wonder if she realizes that this is one of the risks of working the job that she does, that some woman out there thinks of her face every time it feels like knives are pouring out of her vagina.

But I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes I fail at this, but I always try, and I thought, hmm. Maybe five years ago she was having a rough day. Maybe she’s won awards in phlebotomy. Everyone has an off day, right? You know what? BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT IS OVERRATED. At least in terms of someone coming at you with a sharp object. Then? Then the best reaction is to run.

Before she stuck the needle in my arm she remarked that I had great veins for taking blood, SO I KNOW THIS IS NOT MY FAULT. And then BOOP! Needle is in, and all of a sudden she goes, “Oops! Looks like you’re going to have a bruise!”

When she said that all I could think of was this, except she would play the part of the cat.

That was Friday. Today is Monday and it still looks like this:

Care of the life insurance lady

If I get rejected for any reason this time and they have to come take my blood again, there is no way they are going to believe me when I say that I haven’t tried heroin.

  • kellyjcallahan

    2011/08/01 at 3:26 pm

    After leaving the hospital for acute kidney failure, I had to go for blood test every other day for 2 months, then once a week for another 4, then twice a month, then once a month; for a total of 2 years of bloodletting. You better believe I knew who were the good stickers and who weren’t. Because I was severely anemic for months I looked like a really bad drug addict for long time.

    My husband had to request that I not wear short sleeves in public, because people were giving him the stink eye.

  • Sarah McDougall

    2011/08/01 at 3:27 pm

    Ew! That makes me cringe. If she’s still giving out bruises 5 years later, I think she needs to pick another career path.

  • hayofray

    2011/08/01 at 3:32 pm

    Same thing happened to me even though my veins are like pipes. My Mother, a nurse, gave me the save. As soon as they remove the needle hold pressure on the needle stick area for 5 minutes. It won’t stop the bruise entirely if you’ve got a bad phlebotomist but it’ll stop it from being THAT.

  • Paula Beez

    2011/08/01 at 3:38 pm

    Next time tell her she doesn’t have to tie the tourniquet so tight. She’s popping your veins-you exercise, which makes your veins larger and better, and they don’t need as much coaxing to fill up with blood.

  • juliejackson

    2011/08/01 at 3:57 pm

    Arnica. Orally, not the topical stuff. Keeps you from bruising badly in any situation. I’m not into homeopathics, but this one ser-i-ous-ly works. The only trick is you have to have some handy and take it asap or at least within 24 hours of any trauma, including Needle Woman.

  • Janice

    2011/08/01 at 4:07 pm


  • tlkaply

    2011/08/01 at 4:14 pm

    I have kidney failure and do dialysis, so I have regular injections of heparin. The result is that I always look as though someone has been hitting me with sticks. People tend to shudder, and I laugh because I bruise so easily that ,even if it looks horrific, I generally have no idea when it happened or what caused it.

  • jan001

    2011/08/01 at 4:49 pm

    I’m a 5+ gallon blood donor and there are definitely people out there who have no business whatsoever putting needles into other people’s arms. Usually the Red Cross people are pretty good but occasionally there’s one who apparently doesn’t believe me when I tell her my veins are deep and they roll, something I’ve learned over time.

    I found out I’m diabetic in a routine applying-for-life-insurance exam. Instead of a letter saying, “Welcome, new client!” I got a letter from the life insurance company saying words to the effect of “the results of your tests indicate conditions that preclude us from insuring your life.” I had no symptoms whatsoever so I was all about “W!T!F! I have something that’s going to kill me?!?!”

    And then they wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, just told me to go back to my doctor who ran the tests all over again ($$) and gave me the diagnosis.

    Anyway, enjoy the pretty colors.

  • lynnor

    2011/08/01 at 5:11 pm

    Ugh. Hubby had *4* different women come out. The last woman finally drew blood (others just tortured him repeatedly).

  • Irina

    2011/08/01 at 5:24 pm

    JESUS. I’ve never seen someone bruise so much from having their blood drawn. You’re the valedictorian of bruises, too!
    (P.S. Nice biceps!)

  • famisamis

    2011/08/01 at 5:30 pm

    Yeah, Heather! Nice pipes!

  • denice

    2011/08/01 at 6:45 pm

    oh my christ! that screams ‘fired’ to me.

  • Daddy Scratches

    2011/08/01 at 7:10 pm

    Jesus Christ, what did she take your blood with, a fucking meat thermometer?

    I’m looking forward to seeing that nurse on an upcoming “Dateline” special, in which I’m sure she’ll be wearing an orange jumpsuit and trying unconvincingly to assure America that those insurance-screening deaths in your area were just a big misunderstanding.

    Related: I just Googled “nurses who kill their patients” in order to determine if there is a term for that type of person (there is; Angel of Death), and the search produced over 6 million results, many of which are news stories about doctors and nurses who murder their patients. This is an awesome thing for a neurotic, obsessive-compulsive hypochondriac to discover.

    Basically, the nurse who took your blood not only gave you a heinous bruise, but gave me enough material for a lifetime’s-worth of nightmares. Bitch.

  • mook

    2011/08/01 at 7:44 pm

    What type of insurance do you guys have? Do you have term? I recently was working with my new financial advisor and he suggested life insurance to my husband and I and we do not have any children yet. He suggested a Universal Whole Life Policy for me that I pay on until I’m 65. It’s a permanent life insurance policy that stays with me even after we stop paying when I reach age 65. It’s pretty pricey though and I’m not sure I fully trust his advice. Term is cheap. Just wondering if I should switch to term. Thoughts?

  • jenwilson

    2011/08/01 at 8:16 pm

    About five hours after giving birth to my third child in April, they thought I had a blood clot in my lung. Fun! So, 2am, this old lady comes into my room to draw my blood. Blood draws do not bother me in the slightest. THIS LADY MADE ME CRY OUT IN PAIN and gave me a big mother of a bruise. Very similar to yours.

    Some people should not be allowed around other people with needles.

  • msharrington

    2011/08/01 at 8:27 pm

    You won’t look like a heroin addict. Pretty sure they don’t work out and you got yourself a nice muscle there. 🙂

  • emma87

    2011/08/01 at 8:45 pm

    If you keep your arm straight instead of bending it up afterwards and hold pressure on it then it shouldn’t bruise so bad. I do prick people with needles in my job so I’ll be sure to be extra nice next time!

  • OLP

    2011/08/01 at 9:15 pm

    Maybe Sadist is part of her job description.

    In giving blood for 40 years that has only happened twice to me.

  • Prin

    2011/08/01 at 9:23 pm

    Wow, I’ve drawn peoples blood before and I’m not great at it, but I’ve never left anyone looking like that

  • cheeseandcrackers

    2011/08/01 at 10:08 pm

    Oh my! My husband’s arm looked JUST LIKE THAT after he applied for life insurance. He said she was the worst blood taker ever. Could the same woman be working in CA & UT? Here is the picture:

  • yay4tay

    2011/08/01 at 10:33 pm

    Maybe she totally hates your guts for some reason… and this is the phlebotomist equivalent of when baristas ‘accidentally’ give customers they loathe decaf.

    Maybe she’s secretly one of your anonymous freakshow hatemail senders.

  • jennisdrinking

    2011/08/01 at 10:37 pm

    First, that woman has no business with pointy things. Clearly, they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for phlebotomists in that area.

    Second, they take your blood for life insurance coverage?? Is that legal? We have a combo term/whole life policy on my husband and he didn’t have to supply any bodily fluids. I’ve had a whole life policy forever and I never submitted to any needle attacks.

    I hope you told her that it seems odd that everyone else in her field can get your blood out without making you look like you got shot out of a canon.

  • Jalima

    2011/08/01 at 11:16 pm

    Yaowza. Either you bruise extremely easy or that vampire needs to get her skills together already.

    Injections/blood draws tend to give me teeny bruises for a day or so. Nothing like that.

    This is why my husband stopped giving blood. Not only did he come home with the beginnings of a wicked bruise but he had blood spurting all over himself and the nurse. Not good and had him wondering just how ‘clean’ the whole process is.

    I still go.

  • donatelloh

    2011/08/01 at 11:19 pm

    As an avid blood and apheresis donor as well as a trained phlebotomist I can tell you what the problem is. While she was taking blood she pushed the needle completely through the vein. She realized what she had done when she said whoops. The blood should have started to flow into the vacutainer right away, if it didn’t it’s because the vein is missed or has been completely passed through. She had to move the needle backwards a bit in order for the blood to flow. But, by pulling it back she left a nice hole in the back of the vein. The entire time she’s drawing the blood the hole in the back is leaking into the surrounding tissue. The blood can’t clot while the tourniquet is on forcing lots of blood into the area. Therefore…a bruise. Eat lots of pineapple. It really helps to reabsorb the blood.

  • leesuhrenay

    2011/08/01 at 11:37 pm

    Yikes! I had one of those heroin chic trophies once from a blood draw by a girl arguing with her co-worker. I listened to them verbally accost each other and then watched her stomp into the room and proceed to rape my arm. Not only did I have the junkie track, she also left a mark from the tourniquet!
    Topical arnica should help you now, but I am going to pick up some of the homeo-balls for future needle sticks or my clumsy woopsies! Might have to have homemade pina-coladas too

  • J. Bo

    2011/08/02 at 12:31 am

    AMEN to the arnica suggestions (both topical and oral)– it really works. I’ve given blood regularly at the Red Cross since I was 18 (that’s GALLONS ago), and just once had a cranky snot of a “nurse” shove the needle half in and half out of my “tube,” so I bled copiously into my arm tissue (she fussed at me that it was taking so long to fill the bag). It was two weeks before I could bend my elbow without pain, and in the meantime I looked like I’d suffered an incomplete amputation.

    Also… AMEN to your awesome bicep definition– what a rock star!

  • mybottlesup

    2011/08/02 at 7:07 am

    a couple months ago, i found a mystery bruise on the back of my right knee. it was gross and HUGE and then after a week, not only did it not get better, it spread. and by spread, i mean it seemed to spawn baby mystery bruises all around the big mama mystery bruise. and when i went to my doctor because i needed a cortisone shot for all of the eleventy forty mosquito bites i had, my doctor saw the family of bruises and took blood work. then i had to wait a day and a half for the blood work to come back and i made the mistake of googling mystery bruises. i was convinced that i had the disease where your liver kills you because you drink too much bourbon or pre-leukimia. then my husband pointed at the bench that houses our duvet at the end of our bed and found the source of my mystery bruise. and my doctor called saying my blood work was normal.

    i guess i need more life insurance too. that bench is iron.

  • jseadia

    2011/08/02 at 8:10 am

    I got a HUGE bruise a few months ago when they took blood. I NEVER bruise, but this one (which looks like yours) lasted an entire week.

  • carriecuriel

    2011/08/02 at 8:10 am

    Dang. But more importantly, check out those muscles Wonder Woman!

  • kurisuqt

    2011/08/02 at 10:01 am

    I donated blood to the Red Cross for the first time a little over a year ago. My arm looked JUST LIKE THAT! And it lasted for a couple of weeks. I was all “What the frick!?!?” Especially since my veins stick out like a sore thumb, it’s not like the nurse had to go searching for one. Ever since then I have been extremely reluctant to give blood again. Finally told the rep that it was because you destroyed my arm and now I’m to scared to go back. Haven’t heard back from them since.

  • jenniferabbott

    2011/08/02 at 10:34 am

    Okay you have to tell me what you do to treat your uti’s.. Do you resort to antibiotics? I’ve been plagued with them every couple of months for the past year and it’s been hell. Most times, after drinking cranberry juice and trying a homeopathic remedy, I still ended up having to take antibiotics. I had one successful self-treatment with d-mannose capsules and ridiculous amounts of water.. but, I’m currently on day 2 of a terrible one right now and I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to kick it or not.

    I never realized how unfortunately common uti’s are, and how difficult they are to treat naturally.. So, please, if you can, what works for you?

  • minxlj

    2011/08/02 at 10:53 am

    If she’s bruising people taking blood, she has a very poor technique and to be honest that warrants a complaint – much more serious ‘oops’ can occur from not drawing blood properly.

    An anaesthetist once told me that blood and injections don’t have to hurt, it’s all in the technique and taking your time, and that anyone who doesn’t do it properly should be made to practice – and this same anaesthetist gave me SEVEN massive injections, not one of which I felt. Ever wondered why some are brutal and some go perfectly well? It’s not an area they should be allowed to underachieve in, imho.

    Still, I’m amazed – just renewed my life insurance here in the UK this week, and we don’t have to provide any samples at any point. I’m glad I haven’t been violated like you guys have! But seriously – I’d be very wary of giving samples to an insurance company, it just doesn’t seem right…

  • Petri Dish

    2011/08/02 at 11:05 am

    After a bad experience with a white girl, I never ever ever let a phlebotomist take my blood unless they are of the african american persuasion. I once told a lovely caucasian male that I would wait for the next available phlebotomist to take my blood. He was perplexed but relented. When the lovely african american woman came over to me I started to explain my reasoning and she stopped me mid sentence and told me that it is very common for people to “ask” for a different phlebotomist based on race and or age. She then told me to watch as she CLOSED HER EYES and felt around on my arm for a vein. She then INSERTED the needle all the while her eyes were closed. I was amazed and didn’t feel a thing. She said “it’s all in the feel and not what you see”. I guess you could call it reverse racism but I have no qualms asking for a different nurse when it comes to getting sticked.

  • slappyintheface

    2011/08/02 at 1:01 pm

    Heather – check out the last bad bruise I had …. it looked like the unibomber

    not kidding

  • Pandora Has A Box

    2011/08/02 at 2:51 pm

    When Mr. Box got life insurance, the visiting nurse did the same thing to him. Plus, she couldn’t find a vein for a while. He almost passed out.

    Anyway, you look like you’ve been visiting Lancaster, OH, which I’m assured is the heroin capitol of Ohio. Um, yay?

    Feel better. The things we do for our children.

  • fins2left

    2011/08/02 at 5:12 pm

    I just KNOW we had the same woman (given I live in SL,UT and I know she contracts with many insurance companies – it is possible!) Last time we did the blood draw for life insurance with her, I literally heard a POP! Had a bruise for over a week. However, she also measured me one inch taller than I am so my height to weight ratio was better…I forgave her.

  • paminmi

    2011/08/03 at 7:11 pm

    My first thought was, I wonder if Heather was getting into the bourbon? Alcohol is an anticoagulant, so much so that we counsel people on Coumadin to avoid it (along with cranberries) because it can enhance the blood thinning effects, increasing the risk of bruising and bleeding. BTW, fish oil also has anticoagulant effects as does NSAIDs like Motrin and Aspirin.

    As a home health nurse I draw a lot of blood. 99% of the time I have no problem. Once in a great while I see a person who I just can’t get and many times they have what appear to be good looking veins. I can’t explain it…

    All that being said, your phlebotomist may just be shitty one. Hope you remember her name so you can refuse her should there ever be a next time.

  • Albright

    2011/08/09 at 7:47 am

    That is seriously awful. I regularly stick hard-to-stick patients, and if I screw up like that (because you’re right, everyone has an off day) I IMMEDIATELY put ice on the area and ask them to ice it when they get home to minimize painful bruising. Also, if you have nice veins and she bruised you like that, it means she is lazy. Absolutely no damn reason for that.

    Given that she was at your house, there was no reason she couldn’t have at least iced it down. Lazy. Beyotch.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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