the surgical opening or puncture of a vein in order to withdraw blood, to introduce a fluid, or (historically) when letting blood.
Have you heard the saying ‘fake it until you make it’? Pretty good saying if you ask me. If you’re on a date, and you’re not feeling confident, just fake it until you make it. It’s all about believing in yourself and putting on a front until you gain confidence from experience. If I were Trump, I’d say “Great saying. The best. It is the only saying you need. Believe me.” Personally, I’ve found it applies very well to many aspects of my PhD…except when collecting blood.
I’m sitting here at my computer and I’m feeling the full psychological effects of a botched blood collection. Let me recall the events for you:
So I’m waiting by the clinical reception for the participant to come in. It’s not mine, but someone else’s, so I’m thinking they’re just going to assume I’m fantastic at blood collection. They arrive. Little do they know that my palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there’s vomit on my sweater already, Mom’s spaghetti. I’m nervous, but on the surface I look calm, ready to collect blood. I usher the participant in using my professional voice (which is exactly the same as my normal voice but with a slight British accent) and sit them down. I ask them how their day was, and if they have a preferred arm to collect from. They’re probably thinking I’m compassionate, caring and professional, but I’m not. I’m stalling. I’m forgetting the basics. Does the needle go in me, or them? Are we born with a limited supply of blood? What is a blood? I’m currently on an express train to Panic Station.
First needle goes in. Missed the vein. “Oh, you’re a bit dehydrated today,” I lie. “I might try the other arm.”
Second needle goes in. Success! Found the vein. Fake it until you make it James you cheeky bastard. I look over my shoulder to give my colleague a glance to let her know that I’m in control. I am the captain now. I turn back to my blood tube and to my horror I find the blood flow has stopped. Have I slipped out? Or did the vein decide it’s had enough of my butchering and leave? I’ll never know. Third time’s a charm, I say. If you’re collecting blood and you have to say this, you shouldn’t be collecting blood.
Third needle goes in. No luck. I’m a sweaty mess, I’m embarrassed, and I’m feeling for this poor participant. I’m radiating more heat than the Tele-Tubby Baby Sun. I pull out for the final time and do my best to hide my shame.
Moral of the story is that as a PhD student, there will be days where you can fake it and the only person who will know you’re faking will be you. There will also be days where you can’t fake it (i.e. today). The embarrassment might take longer to heal than the puncture wounds, but it’s all part of it.