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March 8, 2003

Blood Tests and Insulin Injections

Question from St.Louis, Missouri, USA:

My daughter handles every aspect of her diabetes in a very positive manner, but she cannot handle getting her blood drawn and cannot get any help with this problem. There is something about placing a needle in her veins which causes her to get sick and pass out. We have searched for a solution with only a blank stare for an answer and we need help. She does use the finger prick for her A1cs, but she does need a blood test every once in a while.

Answer:

I am surprised that your daughter’s diabetes team has not been as helpful to you. Is your daughter a “hard stick”? No doubt, eventually, she will (probably) get over this issue, but some people never do! Of course you’ve heard stories of very macho men fainting when they have blood drawn or witnessed their children being born, but they could easily tolerate a punch in the nose (or see the same on TV or in person.)

So this is often a psychologic issue. Can your daughter have a session or two with a counselor? Does she have the same issues whether or not a numbing material is placed over the vein? EMLA cream as a numbing agent is currently off the market, but over-the-counter ELA-MAX is available. Is your daughter allowed to lie down during blood draws? That might help. An on-going dialogue with diabetes team members should be able to reach some degree of satisfaction.

DS

[Editor’s comment: You should not think that your daughter is the only person with this problem. I had a young adult with diabetes, who was employed as a lab tech (drawing blood samples from other people as part of her job), who none-the-less would faint when having blood drawn from her arm unless she lay down for the procedure.

WWQ]