Adoption Physicals

We completed the ‘physicals’ step in our adoption home study last week. I made a comment about being freaked out by needles in my last home study-related post, and I wish I could say that the experience went easy-breezy, but it didn’t. It was more queasy-MEasy.

After a short wait in the waiting room, the door to our left swung open and we heard someone call out, “Palmer!“. I wasn’t feeling too nervous at this point, but I was relieved that they were allowing us to go back to the panic room, I mean, examination room together.

I tweeted this Instagram photo while we were waiting for the needle, I mean, nurse to come in:

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 8.44.54 AM

Shortly after that, we heard a knuckle knock-knock on the door and the nurse came in to get the party started. I could feel my pulse quicken as she began to wrap the death gripper, I mean, blood pressure checker around my left arm. “118 over 83. Whew. Maybe I’m not as nervous as I thought.

After that, she handed us little plastic cups and pointed to the restrooms. I won’t go into detail about this part of the process, but I will say that I am currently smiling as I type this thinking about Kevin wandering the hallway with his sample because he didn’t know where to put it when he was done. (Don’t worry, I introduced him to the little two-sided cubby door in the wall- ha!)

After that, another nurse came in to draw our blood.

Re-cue: Anxiety.

I casually-with-a-internal-side-of-very-seriously mentioned, “some friends said I should ask for a butterfly needle”, as she snapped the tourniquet around my upper arm.

I concentrated on breathing. I forced a smile, and when she turned away to prepare the needle I tried to use mental telepathy to get a message over to Kevin: “I don’t think she got the butterfly thing! Should I be saying something else about the butterfly thing?!“. He just mouthed, “You’re okay. It’s gonna be okay.

Needle nurses never have an easy time with my veins. They hide, they roll…they fight that needle like they’re allergic to it. The last time I had blood drawn, it took three different nurses and six different sticks. No joke. Total swiss cheese moment, for realz.

It took longer for my tube to fill up than Kevin’s, but it only took one stick, and it didn’t hurt that bad, so I was pretty smiley at this point. But then all of a sudden, my arm started hurting from my elbow down to my hand. I asked Kevin if his hurt, and when he responded, “no“, I yanked my sweatshirt back off to see what was wrong.

The area around the needle hole was swelling with a quickness, and needless to say, I was instantly allergic to smiling, too.

The doctor came in a second later and I immediately went into full, “what the heck is going on with my arm” mode. He apologized, and told me that needle must have gone all the way in and through my vein. He also told me to apply pressure for the next five minutes, and was happy to oblige when I made him look me in the eye and (truthfully) repeat the words, “you are not going to die“.

So here we are, a week later. I’m still alive, but man is my arm sore from the elbow down. Β I’ve got a hard bump the size of a bird egg next to the sticking point, and I’m still black and blue (and yellow and green), but I’m thinking things will be back to normal with it soon.


The next step of our home study involves reading a book called The Connected Child and taking a 10-hour adoption course online. Yay! Reading and writing! I’m definitely not allergic to that.


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  1. says

    Maybe one of those ALERT bracelets should be considered to avoid future incidents. So sorry you had to endure this experience.

    I am excited about your adoption and feel like a grandmother awaiting my first great grandchild . . .

    Blessings to you and your future . . .

  2. Lisa K. says

    I’m also a butterfly-needle-gal! So can relate! You’re brave! And your child will be so blessed by that!

    Thank your for sharing your journey!

  3. says

    Oh I hate needles too! I can’t watch. You did it, though – like a champ!

    I hope your arm starts feeling better!

  4. says

    Awful!! I had the same thing happen to me back in my poor college days when I was donating plasma! My arm started getting super warm and BIG and I got all flustered and cried out “um! nurse! ummmm, my arm!!” Ya, not a big fan of needles myself. And I never donated plasma again :)

  5. says

    I don’t know if this was already mentioned, but in my experience – and I have had arms looking like yours after having blood drawn, I found out that most of the bruising, for me, comes from pressing down on the cotton ball too tightly afterwards and bending your arm like they do in the movies. My new thing is to not press down on the cotton at all and let my arm hang down and just check that the bleeding has stopped, which it does do pretty quickly. That has really brought down bruising for me. Maybe you can use that tip…
    Good luck with everything!

  6. Donna Lohr says

    You are so brave! I can feel your pain…I have those same veins! I had second thoughts about getting married when I found out we had to have blood work done first! Not really, well kind of not really. :)

  7. says

    Needles and I have a bad history as well. Two pregnancys and many holes later and I avoid them as much a possible. I think the worst was six times. It was not pretty. 1st time I gave blood they nicked my vien and I had what you had happen. It was not plesent. I envy people and their easy viens…

  8. Joyce says

    I used to work at a blood center. The nurse should have instructed you to alternately apply warm and cold compresses to the site. That will lessen your discomfort.

  9. says

    Praise God I have pretty good veins, but I also get crazy nervous before blood draws. I have a few tricks. 1. Drink plenty of water beforehand. I want nice, poppy, hydrated veins. 2. Pinch myself. Seriously, I’ll pinch my leg, arm, whatever. Something about it calms me down. 3. Babble like an idiot. My husband says I exaggerate, but I do tend to babble about whatever nonsense comes into my head. I figure the butterflies are better out than in :) 4. Relax my hand/arm. I used to get sore arms from even a tiny little stick. As soon as the needle goes in I have to relax. Otherwise I get pretty sore. I also don’t carry anything heavier than a sheet of paper with that arm for about an hour afterwards.

    Anyway, I’ve always had pretty good results, but that’s how I deal with the needle anxiety.

  10. Pat Richter says

    It is all worth it. Our daughter is now 21 years old and we adopted her 20 years ago. The first 24 hours of having her in our home was panic because our life changed in an instant. I cried so hard and wanted to send her back (I was temporarily insane) But that next day I feel in love and would not change a second of time being her mom. She completed our life and has brought us joy.
    I wish you all that joy and love!

  11. says

    I laughed out loud about what Kevin did with his pee cup- I did the SAME THING!!! I felt like such a loser and told my husband that im never going back to the doctors office… Which made him laugh and roll his eyes… Little does he know how serious I am ;). Needless to say, I am glad I am not the only person ever to not know what to do with the ‘cup”! ( I actually roamed the hallways with it before I found a nurse… so embarrassing :). I hope your arm feels better soon!!! I can imagine it does not feel very nice :(. Your sweet P is so worth it all!

  12. Susannah says

    I remember our son and daughter in law going thru all of this twice! Most recently last year, but as they say too, it is all worth it. We have two beautiful grandsons from Korea. They are the apple of our eye!!

  13. says

    I feel your pain. I have the same pathetic veins. I usually get stuck a minimum of three times before they strike pay dirt. A butterfly will usually work well for me when they draw blood, but with any kind of medical procedure they never have a butterfly or a pediatric needle. Best wishes to you and Kevin in the future.

  14. says

    Oh bless your heart! I was having sympathy anxiety just reading this… I hate having blood drawn! And I’ve had three kids, so you would think that needles wouldn’t phase me. :)
    CHeck it off the list, my friend — on to more FUN stuff!
    xo Heidi

  15. says

    Oh my gosh, I am so sorry you had to get stuck and had such a reaction to it. I am a seasoned fainter when it comes to needles. I get horrible vaso-vagal reactions and will pass out in a nanosecond if I don’t 1) put my feet up or lay down and 2) drink something sugary during the process. I always try to drink a lot beforehand because the nurses tell me that it “plumps up” your veins. Who knows if that’s true, but it’s worth a shot! Glad you are done with the poking part of things!

    • Layla says

      Thank you, Jessica. :-) I didn’t really have a reaction to it- the nurse stuck the needle all the way THROUGH my vein, which is why I’m all bruised and sore. I would’ve been fine if the needle had only gone INTO my vein- LOL! πŸ˜€

  16. says

    I will say a prayer you are ok, I am sure you will be. And my mom used to have the problem of them not finding a vein, so if there is ever a next time that you have to give blood, make sure you initially, before-hand, ask for an “experienced” person, who has taken blood a lot. Also relay the story you’ve just been through with going through the vein, that will scare any future clinic and they will watch out for you! Well, with this story, at least you can show your child and say, “Look what I had to go through to get you, you’d better appreciate it.” (only kidding) But I must say you were very funny with your story of panic room:examination room and needle:nurse coming in, etc. πŸ˜‰

  17. Denise Gebalski says

    Next time….if there is, don’t let them poke you unless you are sure it is a butterfly. just Say No! Not much you can do about the bruise except try Arnica. The color goes away much faster with it. Just think of this as your form ” of Labor”. Only yours is coming in bits and pieces instead of many long painful hours! Be calm and carry on. You both are doing great : o)

  18. angela says

    I’ve had a few folks that have gone through my veins through the years, and it definitely doesn’t feel good. I’m sorry that happened to you!

    And I promise, there’s nothing wrong with your veins! No such thing as rolling, no such thing as hiding. There are just a lot of unskilled professionals out there. I’ve had some horror stories too! But, I also promise.. you are not going to die πŸ˜‰

  19. Jeannie Lenefsky says

    Layla: I too have needle anxiety. The phlebotomist ( needle sticker guy) told me that I should drink LOTS of water the day before I go to the doctor. I tried it and it was much better. Still don’t like it, but it worked!

  20. Sallie says

    So sorry for your experience with the blood draw. I had to have a needle put in for chemo today. The nurse took one look at my arm which was black and blue in several places from pokes the day before. I asked her to use a butterfly and told her what a difficult job it was to get a blood draw from me because of my tiny veins that moved. She said not to worry, that she was better than the others had been. It may sound like bragging to the casual observer, but those words put me completely at ease and she got it quickly on the first try. The trick was that she first heated my hand with something that looked like an ice pack that turned warm when she massaged it for a moment. She said it should be used every time for questionable veins. Please ask for it next time and know that you do have the right to ask for the best “stick” in the office. Please do–some are just more talented and you have a right to have yours done by that person the first time round–not have that person called in when no one else can do it and you have gone through totally unnecessary pain!

  21. brenda says

    I HAVE HAD THE SME THING OCCUR WITH THE ROLY POL VEINS AND FINALLY have learned to open my mouth at an stage that I think they are ignoring my option of having the butterfly. It is your arm and your discomfort for days after. My dr said speak up and I d. Hope you will feel more comfortable with insisting in the future.

  22. Lisa S. says

    I have the same problems that you have with the veins. I had a nurse tell me if I drink plenty of water before I come in for the blood draw it will make for a easier “stick” and helps with the plastic cup/bathroom thingee. The water will hydrate you. I have found this helps a whole lot. They can never get my veins in the arm. Now, I tell the nurse that I am a difficult stick and please use a small butterfly on the top of my hand. If they insist on trying to stick me in the arm, I will not allow it. I just tell them that I have tried many times in the past, however, no one has been successful getting blood from the arm. I do not want to try anymore, Please use the butterfly on top of my hand. Thankfully most of the nurses have been understanding.

  23. Cyndia says

    Ouch! So sorry about your difficult experience with the blood draw! Definitely insist on having someone with loads of experience to take your blood next time. My hubby has lymphoma and we learned quickly to speak up, as his veins roll too and are now very scarred from the chemo.
    I’m concerned about that hard spot around the puncture site that you mentioned. I’d suggest calling the doc first thing to ask about the possibility of a blood clot, which can be serious. I’ve gotten two from blood draws and they’re nothing to mess with. In the meantime use lots of hot compresses.
    Wishing you well on the adoption process! Y’all will be great parents!

  24. Sheila says

    Bless your heart!
    I hate needles too, and have the small tiny little veins that have a tendency to hide as well. But Layla here’s the truth, your so called nurse didn’t know what she was doing. I admit there are some of us that have somewhat difficult veins to jab but if that person is trained and experienced in what they do there should be no trouble. This is my new rule whenever I need to have blood drawn, no more than 3 tries. If you can’t get it by the third stick I’m outta there. And sad but true, doctors will hire most anyone to pass off as a nurse. I know because I worked in the medical field for many years. I could tell you stories that would make you cringe. The truth is she may have been working at McDonald’s last week flipping burgers.
    And there is no such thing as veins that roll. They’ll tell you that after they have stuck you numerous times to make it appear it’s your fault. Now next time you ask for someone with years of experience. Don’t be afraid of hurting someones feelings. You’re probably to sweet for your own good. You must take charge of your well being. It took me a long time to do this. But as I get older and wiser I don’t really care so much what people may think of me. You know, most people just take for granted that when you go to a doctor or a hospital that you are being cared for by professional’s who know what they’re doing. Not necessarily so. So you do your research. I hate it that you had this bad experience and had a vein blown. If there is ever a next time please don’t rely on the mental telepathy. Very loud with a stern voice ask for your butterfly needle, or I’ve been told to ask for a pediatric size that are used on children and I always do… Good Luck!!!
    I’m hoping and praying that God will soon bless you both with a beautiful healthy child. He or she will be one very lucky little one.

  25. Dawn L. says

    That has happened to me before. I have the same vein issues. I was just happily giving blood…and after a couple of sticks it seemed to be going well, but very slow…and then, surprise! hematoma (sp?) the size of a goose egg. It took FOR-ever to completely go away. Annoying. Somewhat painful…but I did manage to give blood many more times after that, so I guess I got over it. Glad you made it through another step!

  26. says

    This makes me feel lightheaded just reading your post. I am totally needle phobic too… but just wait until you have that precious child of yours and you will laugh at how worthwhile even the yuckiest of hoops you had to jump through were.

  27. Beth Nolan says

    Girl…. You have a way with words. I was laughing so hard and felt like I was right there with you until…. I saw the picture of your arm. Yikes!!! When you get that baby it will all be worth it! Praying for you. I am coming from orlando to Montgomery next weekend. Maybe I will bump into you. My son in law owns the Benjamin Moore store there called new look. I have a design store in there too stop by some time. Tell em Beth sent you!

  28. JoAnn says

    I am glad that is over! That happens to me every time I have blood work…. drink lots of water before you visit next time… 5 glasses if you can! No coffee! It does help, sometimes!

  29. says

    Layla, I’m a little late to comment on this post, and I know you’ve gotten good advice already, but I just thought I’d share this tip that may insure that you get a butterfly needle if you have to get blood drawn again. (I’m the breast cancer survivor who has to have multiple lab tests all the time…) When the lab appt is made, let them know that you will need someone there who is experienced at using butterfly needles (you can also clarify it by saying it is the type used on pediatric patients). Not all lab techs have much experience with them, and if they don’t, they usually don’t want to use them. (My phlebotomist friend taught me this.) When you arrive for your appt, remind them again (with a smile) that you will need a lab tech who can use a butterfly needle. Then, if the lab tech says you don’t need one because your arms are big enough or whatever, just say that you appreciate their skill, but you have had very difficult experiences in the past with pain, arm swelling, etc and you called ahead of time and made sure that it was noted on your records that you require a butterfly needle. Hopefully they will get one at that point, but if they don’t have one available, you can thank them and tell them that you will reschedule. Usually, someone is around who is used to drawing blood with butterfly needles. If they say it will take longer to use a butterfly (because the blood flows slower through the tiny tube), don’t let that discourage you. It may take a few seconds longer, but it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad! Honestly, if you have a lab tech who uses butterflies a lot, you may not even feel anything! The needles in butterflies are really tiny and might just feel like they put their fingernail on you, if that. They really, really do make a difference! I hope this helps, Layla. Also, before they begin the draw, consciously drop your jaw and exhale with long breath while dropping your shoulders at the same time. (Practice that ahead of time…in the waiting room, even.) That is a technique I teach preggos to help with labor pain. Relaxing the jaw and shoulders will help release tension in the upper body and can lower stress & cortisol levels. That will help relieve pain and will increase pain tolerance at the same time. Stress hormones increase pain (from whatever source), so learning how to release and relax will go a long way toward helping relieve pain and tension. I hope this helps! I really care about you a lot. I’ve been a follower for a few years. Yours was the first blog I ever followed and is the only one I keep up with all the time. My niece met you at Blissdom a few years back and said you were as sweet as I thought. :)

  30. Carol Adams says

    I am just reading this and am concerned.
    As a intensive care RN with 30 plus years of experience drawing blood this should not have happened but I do hope that your arm looks better now. I was very concerned that you might have a clot in your arm Pressure needs to be put on the puncture site after the blood is drawn which allows the blood to clot around the puncture site so that you do not bleed into the surrounding tissue. This can occur with a butterfly needle too but it’s a smaller bore needle so not as likely. Please let me know that your arm is better now. sending hugs!!! :)

    • Layla says

      Hi Carol,
      The bruising is gone, but the hard bump is still there. I’m off to email you now!

  31. Jen says

    HI Layla,
    I love reading your blog. Congrats on your adoption journey. It’s a crazy ride! We adopted our son from Russia in 2007 and we are now adopting domestically and waiting to be matched.

    I’m writing because I want to share something with you that I wish we would’ve known long ago because we’ve always wanted two kids. If you think you guys might want another someday, consider adopting two now. We are having such a HARD TIME adopting a second. We’ve been waiting two years this week to be matched with a birthmother. We’ve been shown to many birthmothers and we’ve heard time after time is that we’ve made the “short list,” however almost every birthmother seems to want to place their child with a childless adoptive family. So we continue to wait and wait. Now I wish we would’ve adopted two children the first time. I loved giving our son our full attention, but I hope it’s not at the cost of a sibling. (Our first adoption took exactly 9 months.) :) So I just wanted to share that….I have no idea what you guys are thinking! :)

    Adoption is a wonderful way to have a family and you’ll be surprised how much your child will be like you. :) I think families can be made spiritually too – my son was always my son – just born across the world in the Arctic Circle. Who would’ve thought? He even looks like us. Knowing this has given me faith that we will have another someday, and it will be the perfect child for us. That’s why we have this wait. (weight) He or she just isn’t here YET, but already having one has significantly prolonged the process this time around.

    Good luck on your journey. Take in every moment you guys have as a twosome because soon enough you will be a forever Trio. :)

  32. says

    This has happened to me before. I had an IV put in before a surgery and it missed my vein and started filling up under my skin. It was the worst searing burning pain…pure and utter agony!

  33. Melanie says

    First off, I’d like to say I’ve LOVED your blog for quite some time now, but this is the first time I’ve ever commented! I was THRILLED to hear that you have to read The Connected Child and take the online course.!! We adopted our daughter when she was 19 months with the understanding that she had autism, received her diagnosis at 2 1/2 yrs. and got her into IBI therapy for the next 3 yrs. Only to discover that she has an attachment disorder. (Could very well be attachment disorder and autism, but they are so alike it’s unreal). Unfortunately, I had to go searching for info. on my own after years of struggles and the therapy not helping as we had hoped. I came across the book by Karyn Purvis, watched her on you tube, fell in love with Christine Moers at and are finally seeing some improvements!!! Now, I certainly don’t want to frighten you!! We planned on adopting a child with special needs but any child who deals with loss no matter how young will be impacted in some way. You on the other hand are going to be so well prepared!!! Had I known about Karyn Purvis 7 years ago, I don’t think our precious girl would have had so many difficulties! The strategies for autism are the complete opposite as the strategies for attachment!

    Is the online course based on Dr. Purvis’ book? If so, is there any way for others to take it online? :)

    Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child by Beth O’Malley is another great resource!

    Thinking of you and Kevin as you go through this process together…it’s worth all the pain and bruising on your arm! :)

    Melanie from Canada

  34. Elizabeth says

    God Bless you on your adoption journey…. We are in the process of finalizing the adoption of our second child, born on 1/30/13 , I am constantly amazed at how God works… Both our children have the same birth mom and birth dad…. We waited only 10 months for our second….. Adoption is truly a gift from God… After all Jesus was adopted by Joseph : )
    I understand what you go through with needles … I too have to let the nurses know to use the butterfly needle – I have very small veins that like to roll and avoid needles as well. : ) It certainly is part of our “pains” in the adoption process…. Being paper pregnant can be challenging at times – However, after going through it now a second time, I do have to say that the wait was harder for me. After the Homestudy was completed, I found myself having to keep myself occupied as to not focus too much on when and how the placement and adoption would happen…. My prayers are with you during your journey ….. has some humerous shirts for prosepective and adoptive parents……

  35. Chrissy says

    Oh so sorry to hear about your experience. My veins roll and dodge as well, but the needles don’t bother me. I was in Jr. high school when my mom was in nursing school one hour from our home. On days when we had to go to the orthodontist (also one hour away), we’d miss the entire day of school b/c we’d accompany her to nursing school. I always volunteered my arms for the student nurses to practice on. Maybe that is why they roll now??? Maybe I’m like a druggy b/c I’ve been pricked so many times???

    Anyhoooo, I haven’t been to your blog since you moved…life is busy. But I wanted to share our story of our first adoption physical so you could have a laugh…at my husband’s expense.

    I went in first (no shared apt. where we were!) and had a relationship with my Dr. and her staff since I’d been seen a handful of times over the 5 years of living there (during veterinary school for my husband). Hubby, on the other hand, was never sick and never in need of a Dr., so this was his first visit for the entire time we’d lived there. I’m not sure why or where the idea came from, but I got a bee in my bonnet and mentioned as I was leaving, that my husband was uber modest and totally unaware of what to expect and they sure could have fun with him.

    Let me back up…I teased Hubs a time or ten that maybe he’d have to have the old high school physical-cough-type check up or maybe even a rectal exam. He never believed me, but those seeds of complete fear were sown and I really didn’t even know it.

    Okay, so he went in and the nurse took his BP and vitals and stuff and then handed him a paper towel and said something along the lines of, “Sorry, but we are conserving resources, so if you’ll just drape this over your lap when you undress would be great! K…thanks and the Dr. will be right in.” Wellllllll, he didn’t want to be caught half undressed so he quickly hit the buttons on his shirt while his BP quickly began to rise. Both the nurse and the Dr. busted right back in laughing and saying that it was all a joke. He was grateful, mightily relieved and had a really great attitude about it for which I am grateful. Too bad the second round of adoptions brought street-smartness to my book-smart husband, b/c he just smiled and said, “I’m not falling for anything!”

  36. says

    I just hopped over here and happened upon your adoption page. Let me say congratulations!! I’ve not used Lifeline but have heard wonderful things about them. We have adopted 3 children. It was a wonderful, different experience each time. All 3 children are so different, yet they meshed together in a unique way rather quickly. It has been an amazing adventure. I wish you the best! Congratulations!

  37. says

    Oh, I hear ya. When we had our adoption physicals we had to all get TB tests. I had to hold my children down. It was horrible!!! The Connected Child is so good! You are going to devour it!