The inside of my right elbow (known as the antecubital fossa, in case you have ever wondered) currently looks like it has been the victim of a vicious assault. This is probably an exaggeration, but it is showing a variety of bruises from three blood tests over the last three weeks. Nobody seems able to grasp the concept of “trying the other arm”. It’s partly the fault of the layout in phlebotomy rooms, which always seem to be set up to allow the phlebotomist easy access to the right arm.
The NHS has a fetish about the right arm. A few years ago, during my three month adventure with the urology department, a junior doctor told me he had come to insert a cannula. I queried why it was necessary, as I was only in hospital briefly while they treated an infection. I was told it was standard practice as it saved time if I needed to have one put in later. Clearly this was unlikely to be the case, but they do have a one size fits all approach and it’s easier just to let them get on with it.
“Can you put it in my left arm?” I asked.
“No, I’m sitting on this side of the bed and it’s easier to put it in the right.”
Not better for the patient, easier for medical reasons or anything like that, just easier for some pompous newly qualified doctor with the bedside manner of a city trader.
They are, in case you’ve never had one, difficult to insert if the subject has veins that don’t like having needles inserted. The record was, I think, 13, when I counted the marks from all the false starts they once mad whilst inserting one. Then you have the problem that after a few days they start to itch and become sore. All in all, I’m not a fan . . .
So he put it in my right arm, after several attempts, and went.
Less than 24 hours later I woke up when Julia came to visit, and she pointed out that the cannula had become dislodged and was hanging on by a single piece of adhesive tape.
That’s what happens when you put stuff in my dominant arm, I move it more than the other and things get caught. Unfortunately he wasn’t about when I asked for assistance in sorting it out.