Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Recovering from a mistake

I volunteered to donate blood at our school's bi-annual blood drive yesterday afternoon, and got a "bad stick" as I'm calling it. The nurse or technician missed the vein and hit a nerve, which was very, very painful.

This happened to me once before and it scared me off donating for a decade. That's bad, because I'm O- and that's the most useful blood type.

I'm not going to be scared off of donating again, which is all based on the difference in how it was handled. Whereas the last time they missed the vein, the person just continued to jiggle it around until I started bleeding, then abandoned me on the table for 15 minutes, by which time I had been busting out of the bag for about 8 of those minutes and ready to pass out on the table. My entire arm swelled and turned blue and green all the way up to my shoulder, and I couldn't lift anything with that arm for a week.

In contrast, yesterday the woman who stuck me quickly tightened the band at the top of my arm to control the pain, and quickly but very calmly got the best technician there, who was able to quickly adjust the needle without additional pain, all the while telling me silly jokes to get me to breathe. I don't blame the first woman, I've got little veins that are a nightmare to find. She apologized, but calmly and not so much so I lost confidence in her ability. The group checked in on me often and I was done in a mere 6.5 minutes.

As I went home, my arm still in a bit of pain but nothing I thought was serious, I reflected on this experience. I am very happy with the way the situation was dealt with and understanding of the mistake. I appreciated her willingness to stop and get the help she needed, and their calm but caring attitude they showed me during my discomfort.

While I don't think mistakes in librarianship can cause anyone physical pain, we can cause confusion and panic if we give misleading or unclear information, or if something was misplaced or we didn't check that our Web site was working properly. I tend to panic when a student points something like this out, and some other librarians don't seem to care. I think next time something like this happens, I will do my best to care as much as I already do, yet remain as calm as the technicians did yesterday. I think this attitude will be the one that most likely causes the student to want to come back to the library.

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