A Tale of Woe From a Human Pin Cushion

Amy Baker avatar

by Amy Baker |

Share this article:

Share article via email
relationship with someone with chronic illness| Scleroderma News | banner image for column titled

“Don’t worry. This will feel like a pinch.”

Sitting in the sterile room with a tourniquet wrapped tightly around my arm, I stared intently at the legion of vials awaiting filling.

The pinch did not feel like a pinch; it was more like a bee sting. As the lab tech liberated my arm from its captor tourniquet, I felt the sweet release from its unyielding grip and watched my blood flow freely into the vials.

I don’t think they have a lab test for being awesome, but I would certainly test positive for that! I laughed aloud, forgetting I wasn’t alone in the room. My thoughts crept back to why I was there in the first place: to find out what was wrong with me. Little did I know, that would be the first of numerous times in my journey toward a scleroderma diagnosis that I would ponder that same question while a needle dangled from my arm.

The tech exchanged vial after vial after vial — 13 exchanges later, I was done. I asked if they had a cookie and a soft drink because I’d previously gotten delicious treats after donating blood. Wasn’t that what I just did? Gave them all my blood? Sadly, the request went unfulfilled, so I gathered my belongings and walked to my car, feeling a tad lighter and dizzier.

No one seemed to know what was wrong with me. With the appearance of each new super confusing symptom, different specialty doctors traded me. They fervently thirsted for my blood. My primary care physician asked for bloodwork, then a dermatologist, then a rheumatologist, then a cardiologist, then a gastroenterologist, then an orthopedic surgeon, and so on.

With every new appointment and fresh blood draw, my physicians scratched their heads more frantically. The good news for them was they were not alone in their confusion. Lost in the mystery, there was only one path forward … say it with me, order more bloodwork.

As a young child, I had dreams of becoming a movie star, an author, an astronaut, even a princess. In that blood draw chair, I had finally found my new life calling: I’m a human pin cushion.

Join me on every month’s second and fourth Monday as I explore my scleroderma diagnosis in my column, “Chronically Me.”


Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.


Christa Burkhardt avatar

Christa Burkhardt

Thanks Amy! You described this perfectly. My autoimmune diagnosis’s may be different but the road to diagnosis is paved with blood work. I totally relate!

Karen Campbell avatar

Karen Campbell

For me it was long ago now but I can certainly relate to what it is like trying to get a diagnosis.

Denise Vallee avatar

Denise Vallee

Love reading your articles. I can relate.

Amy Baker avatar

Amy Baker

Oh gosh, thank you so much for the kind words! I am sorry that you can relate but glad to know we have each other to lean on!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.