It’s just blood…

I’m not even sure how to start this post tonight.  I went to the doctor’s office today for one of my check-ups.  When most people say that, it involves some routine physical.  When I say that,  it involves a whole entourage of people.  I bet you didn’t know I had an entourage and now you want one too.  Anyway, it started about two weeks ago when I realized I needed to get a phlebotomy.  If you missed one of my earlier posts, a phlebotomy involves taking a pint of my blood.  I called to make an appointment with my doctor.  I had to listen to the message and press a bunch of numbers to get through.  Then I had to let them know who I wanted to speak to, and then leave a message and they would call me back because no one really answers the phone anymore.  With all of our technological “advances” we have created one of the most annoying systems in the world at doctor’s offices, but that’s another post.

I got a call back from the “scheduling” person.  She does not know me nor does she care about me.  All she cares about is scheduling me in.  I tried to explain I need an appointment with the doctor and nurses, not lab because the nurses go ahead and draw my blood.  Somehow I ended up with two appointments anyway.  I tried to call back and fix it, but got the same “why are you calling and who is this and who do you want to leave a message for?” deal.  I called the top-secret phone number the nurse I have been seeing for years gave me and she answered.  I was so happy.  I told her they were doing the same thing and I needed help.  She said, ignore them and let me get it straight for you.  She called back with my appointment time and everything was great.  I had to take off work in order to make it work because they don’t see anyone on Thursday for some reason.

So, my husband decides to go with me even though he usually does not.  We get called back and a lady takes me in the direction of the lab.  Already starting off wrong.  I ask what labs are ordered and she says the typical.  I tell her that I usually go to the nurses first and she stares at me and tells me to have a seat.  I ask her to clarify what labs are ordered, and ask her about the ferritin test.  She says it isn’t there.  I politely tell her a CBC does me no good really.  After much deliberation, she asks me what she is supposed to do about it, and I politely ask her to get the nurse.  She tells me to wait in this little room with my husband.  My husband knows what a hard time I have with the lab techs, and tells me I should write a note, or complain to the person in charge, etc.  I say in undertones, as the other patients are looking at us, that it would do no good as I am not the usual case.

I get escorted back and eyeballed by people like I have committed a crime.  I did not go to the lab.  Yup.  That’s right.  The nurse gets my vitals and tell me that the physician’s assistant will be with me in a moment.  My husband and I continue our discussion for a moment as he tells me more advice on how to handle this.  I’m sure it was good advice had I been listening, but considering he doesn’t have to deal with this, I tune him out.  Luckily, the PA comes in at that moment.  We discuss the phlebotomist in the lab and how her behavior was.  I get told to ignore her as the next time I come back, there will be a different lab person anyway.  The PA is cool as she tells me she understands that I know my condition better than others and let them look at me funny when I tell them that I need to speak with the nurses.  I ask her if there someway to please put in my file that after 13 years, I go to the nurses first.  No can do.  Too many screens.  What one person sees, another person doesn’t see, etc.  Brilliant!  Love modern advances in technology.

Here comes the exciting part, so get your popcorn.  I go back to the nurses area.  This area is designed to make cancer patients feel comfortable.  There are 3 sections and many armchairs with pillows in each section.  Tall IV stands are beside each chair.  On a busy day, every spot is filled up.  I got here early as there was only one other person in the section I was seated in.  Apparently, they have divided it up by doctors now and each doctor has their own nurses.  I get someone I have not seen.  Sigh.  I ask for my regular nurse only to find out she is off today.  Double sigh.  Eventually, this person comes over to me.  My husband is in the chair beside me and he holds my hand.  She starts by making the tourniquet way too tight.  Then remembers to check my blood pressure.  I let her do her job and try very hard not to tell her the usual way it is done.  She wipes down my forearm and I begin to worry.  That is not where my best vein is…hope she gets this right.  She slides the tube in my vein and it hurts, but I don’t flinch.  I never do unless they really hurt me as she was already shaking so I try to act like I am okay with this.  Secretly, I am not okay as I can already tell something is wrong.  She goes to get the blood and it doesn’t want to come out.  Great.  She pumps the vial and manages to get a little to test.  I am hoping that is enough, but apparently it is not.  Luckily, she grabs someone I know.

This nurse is in the other section and recognizes me.  She comes over and flushes my line and tries to fix what this lady did, but doesn’t have much luck.  The other lady is hovering and watching.  I casually mention that it would be best to put it higher up and they apologize for having to start all over again.  They get the big needle out and always say “big stick” like that helps me prepare.  Lady, I have to deal with this the rest of my life, let’s just do this.  Finally, the blood starts flowing.  I fill up a few vials.  Two hours have gone by at this point.  Eventually, the PA comes over and they realize I can have my pint of blood taken.  The first nurse comes back and starts my bag.  I almost forgot I get free soft drinks and crackers.  The place is starting to fill up and I wonder how my husband is doing.  It occurs to me that I don’t bring him for a reason.  I don’t want him to see this.  I think that’s how my grandmother felt when she went by herself.  I listen in to other people’s low conversation as this one man seems really happy.  That makes me happy.

Which brings me back to the thought that I am still lucky.  So I look down at my bag and it is 3/4 full so I ask the nurse if I can be finished now.  I am a bit light-headed, so she gets me an IV started.  I look over to my husband and I really want to leave now.  I am pretty tired.  Three hours later, we get to leave.  On the way home, I ask him to stop and get me a burger.  It’s the little things in life-like a cheeseburger with extra pickles that help.  That and the fact that when we get home, I get to sleep for the rest of the day.

“Rest when you’re weary.  Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit.  Then get back to work.”  ~Ralph Marston

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