Pfrightened Phlebotomist

I had a routine blood draw this morning to make sure my blood is routine. According to one study, 60% of men don’t go to the doctor for the same reason we never stop to ask for directions — we’ve made up our minds and we don’t want to be bothered by facts. It’s one thing to take the long way to Peoria, but quite another to reduce your blood pressure by sheer tyranny of will.

My kids need a dad, so I go to the doctor.

They called my name at 8:30 this morning and had me sit down in a very large chair with padded arms that folded across my lap, sort of like those desks we sat in for high school except a much softer surface that would’ve been handy for naps during Bio II.

Having no fear of needles or awkward small talk, I asked my Phlebotomist (name tag: Matthew) “Wouldn’t it be funny if a phlebotomist was afraid of needles?”, and then he said, “Hi, my name is Matt, and I’m afraid of needles.”


Matt said “Yeah, I was the kid who hid under the chair and screamed when I had to get a shot”

Genuinely curious, I asked “So, why this um… line of work?”

“It puts bread on the table and I’m good at it.”

No arguments here — he got a couple of tubes of blood out of me and applied the bandaid with expert precision. If I had bread to give him in that moment, I would’ve. But I learned the hard way, after some rejected reimbursement forms I sent to Blue Cross, that you can’t tip your medical professional, even if they’re in network. We then talked about how the tube has a built in vacuum — like the wall vac in my aunt’s house — that somehow coaxes the blood out of our vein. I was fascinated and asked for more detail on how it worked.

I stopped talking for a minute (Matt was fine with that) and pondered this unexpected turn: he wields needles all day, yet he’s afraid of them. That would be like me getting a job as a snake handler. Or like a waiter who is nauseated by food. I mentioned this comparison to Matt and he said “that’s probably enough” and sent me on my way. Not really. We had a good laugh. And I got a wicked cool armband out of the deal.

A few takeaways:

  1. It’s good to work and put bread on the table, no matter what it takes.
  2. This is a fascinating way to overcome a fear — it’s almost a Trojan Horse approach.
  3. Phlebotomy means “when someone uses a needle to take blood from a vein”, which is almost as long as the word “Phlebotomy”.
  4. Needles are just one reason dudes don’t like going to the doctor. I recommend working with Matt, because he knows what you’re dealing with, man.

About radamdavidson

When I'm not blogging, I'm hanging out with my family, pastoring a church, or listening to vinyl. I think and write about Jesus, music, communication, organizational leadership, family whatnot, and cultural artifacts from the 1980's -- mostly vintage boomboxes. You can read my blog at, watch [RadCast], a daily 3 minute video devotional, or find me on socials (@radamdavidson). I also help Pastors in their preaching and public speaking (
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