Difficulties Having Blood Taken

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Originally published on 15th June 2016
Last updated on 10th June 2019

For as long as I can remember, it’s never exactly been easy to draw my blood for tests. It can take as many as ten attempts, where I’m left very sore and bruised afterwards!

For years, my veins seemed to hide away, and even when I spent three weeks in hospital a few years ago when very ill, and had to have blood taken and drips and tubes in me 24/7, it didn’t get any easier. I remember screaming out in pain when they started taking it from the back of my hand.

It has not been uncommon for me to leave a blood test with a plaster (band aid) on both arms and a lot of bruising. And it’s not nice, obviously!

Sometimes the nurse has gone to fetch another nurse to have a go because the struggle to obtain my blood has been so tricky, while other people think I’m just a wuss, because they get it taken much easier. They don’t know the struggle!

I’ve been told that the nurse shouldn’t persist past three attempts, but as it’s not unusual to take five attempts before we get a little dribble of blood, I put up with it so I can at least have the blood drawn. I’ve also been told that once the needle is in, it shouldn’t be moved around, but this happens. You’re meant to take it out and start again if necessary.

Is There a Thyroid Link?

I have wondered if there was a link between thyroid problems, poor circulation, adrenal problems etc. and issues having blood taken, so I asked in my Facebook group a while back, and many people replied saying they did indeed have the same issue. So I did some researching online.

I only had to google ‘problem having blood taken’ and links for thyroid sites came up. But nothing was conclusive. There doesn’t seem to be any known direct link, but a lot of people are noticing a trend.

Yes, I’ve Tried All The Things 

always drink plenty of water, so it’s not caused by dehydration. I walk to the doctors (going up two steep hills to get there) so I’m very warm on arrival and have blood pumping well. So it’s not that either!

Some have said that it depends entirely on the nurse and how good they are at finding my veins, however, it has gotten a lot better over the last year to get my blood and I now can’t remember the last time the nurse struggled to draw any. I’ve gone from it taking five attempts to them getting it on the first try every time now. And that’s hugely appreciated!

So what have I done differently?

Honestly, in the past year or two since the change, I’ve been a lot more focused on gut health. My functional medicine practitioner addressed the Candida (yeast overgrowth which a lot of us hypothyroid people have), leaky gut, adrenal stress (high cortisol) and oestrogen dominance (too much oestrogen). A UK test for Candida can be found here and a US test here.

My diet is protein and healthy fats focused. I take probiotics, digestive enzymes, bone broth and focus on trying to keep my gut healthy and balanced. Not only have my menstrual cycles normalised with all of this, but my skin (acne) has improved, fatigue pretty much disappeared, bowel movements regulated, circulation improved (no more cold intolerance) and I can’t help but think it’s all linked.

Do you experience the same struggle with having blood drawn?

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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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6 thoughts on “Difficulties Having Blood Taken

  1. Aww I empathise as I’ve been used like a pin cushion way too many times. They always use a smaller butterfly needle, and on odd occasions they can get it first time, but it’s rare. If it’s very hot weather (where everyone’s melting & I’m just reaching luke warm!) my veins are better. It can be pretty miserable. I’m not sure about the link between problems with blood draws & thyroid problems, or other health issues, but it’s made me wonder..x

  2. I so agree with you! I just had my blood taken last week and the first nurse couldn’t get it even with the butterfly. They had a different nurse use a big needle in the other arm near the middle between my wrist and the crook of my elbow. They dig around and now I have a huge bruise that is still sore! I have had hypothyroidism for over 40 years and it is never easy!

  3. I have also always had issues, my dad as well and be are both hypothyroid. I have found that drinking quite a lot of coconut water the day before along with regular water has helped. I also do jumping jacks or something to get the blood moving right before, I always lie down and usually take in a blanket to cover with do I stay warm during the draw (since the table is usually cold). When I start a year and a half ago with my functional doc and was getting major blood draws every 3 months and often one small draw in between, it was almost always a struggle and if they were able to get a vein it would often stop running and not provide enough blood for all the tests. The odd thing is now that my thyroid numbers have stabilized for the first time as well as most of my other lab work, as log as I hydrate, exercise and stay warm the draws have been much better! I remember when I had my wisdom teeth pulled in college I was supposed to be put to sleep but they couldn’t get a vein at all so I had to be awake for the procedure ? and then I had to have surgery a few years later and they couldn’t get an IV in for anything and had to numb my wrist (yeah it didn’t really numb much) and punch through cartilage in my wrist to get it in… Not fun! Of course in both those instances I couldn’t have any liquids prior which makes it absolutely awful. I’d love to know if there is a scientific link because most of the people I know with thyroid issues also have trouble with blood draws.

  4. yes I have the same problem. They usually take mine from the back of my hand. A couple of tricks is to drink lots of water the day before and at least two to three hours before the blood draw. Also if you are feeling chilled that makes the veins shrink back into your arm – keep warm. Make sure they use a fine needle. The clinic I used to go had the best people they could draw blood from my the arm the first time but my new clinic won’t even try my arm they go for my hand. If you vessels on your hand are plumped up the draw does not hurt. What I do is slap my hand a few times that usually helps plump them up then there’s no pain

    1. Thank you for your response 🙂 unfortunately I have tried all these and to no avail. Drinking lots of water doesn’t work for me (I already drink 2.5 litres a day), nor does keeping warm or a brisk walk – I walk 20 minutes to the doctors and am always hot on arrival. Butterfly needle doesn’t work/help also.

      I refuse my hand to be used as when I had to have it done in hospital I was screaming in pain. I guess I could try it again but it really was so traumatic that I’d rather they just bruise my arm up! It takes many attempts to get the blood from my arm, but it doesn’t hurt as they do it. It’s about half an hour later that it swells and bruises like in the photo above, and I prefer this to the horrific pain I had when they used my hand and wrist before.

      I just wish it was as simple as ‘normal’ people!

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