At the conclusion of a doctor's appointment a few weeks ago, I needed to have blood drawn for some lab work. I don't have a fear of needles, or seeing my own blood or blood in general, but as I made my way to the lab the tiled hallway stretched longer and longer before me and little prickles of fear sweat started freezing the back of my neck. As the worry set in, I began wondering if I should take Benadryl now, if I needed to arrange a ride home, if I should come back later when I had time to have a reaction and be sick for the rest of the day.
There is never a good time for an allergic reaction, thus dragging my already sick self into the lab and trying to explain my situation seemed like the easiest option. I kept the "this is not going to end well" panic down by promising myself that I could just get up and walk out if things weren't going my way. I handed my slip in and waited to make my case.
My case was simple, I was going to have an allergic reaction to the little white square of corn alcohol that was going to be rubbed allover the sensitive skin on the inside of my arm in preparation for this blood draw. Just thinking about it makes my stomach clench, I react to the just the fumes* from corn derived alcohols, the idea of swabbing it allover a large patch of skin sounds like torture. My case was also that I wanted to avoid this dousing in corn. I would be happy to wash my arm with an antibacterial soap that I was mildly allergic to as a compromise of sorts. As I started coming up with wilder ideas about what to do to avoid the SWAB OF DOOM, boiling water did not seem entirely out of the question. Could I present my case and get my concerns taken seriously before I panicked and gave up on the process?
Far too soon my name was called. As I was ushered back to the lab, the trepidation on my face and the death grip on my bag of emergency meds tipped the experienced phlebotomist off to a lurking problem, but she assumed that it was the usual and began to question me about nerves and fainting. Before she could begin her prep and get out any alcohol, I blurted out nervously, "I have a problem with the alcohol wipes. I'm severely allergic to corn, the alcohol is made from corn and gives me a reaction. Could I just wash my arm really well?"
That must have been a new request. Her face registered surprise for a moment, then her eyes twinkled at me as she asked "Are you allergic to shellfish?" When I assured her that shellfish present no problem, she pulled a bottle of Betadine out of the cabinet with the flourish of magician. "As long as you don't mind turning a little yellow, this will do."
Grinning, I rolled up my sleeve and replied, "I look good yellow."
Since I assumed that I was going to have to get sick to get this bloodwork done, a little yellow stain was nothing. I still would have thanked her profusely if she had perma-stained my arm and my shirt. I doubt that she often gets people that are so happy to have their blood drawn. If I had a bit of my brother's musical talent, I would have done a Gene Kelly singing strut out of there.
At the time I wasn't sure about the Betadine, but it seemed worth a try and worked like a charm! Combined with paper tape and cotton ball she used afterward, I had no problems at all. I took everything off about 10 minutes after the draw and washed my arm with safe soap. There's no point in pushing it. I'm going to pick up a pack of iodine wipes to add to my first aid kit.
Has anyone out there with a corn allergy, without a seafood allergy, reacted to Betadine?
Active Ingredients: Povidone-Iodine 10% - 1% Available Iodine
Inactive Ingredients: Pareth 25-9 , Purified Water , Sodium Hydroxide
*discovered recently that I react to the fumes from corn derived alcohols inadvertently, it was being used in another room and I was getting sick-- yet another of those blind tests that keeps life so interesting