Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Doctors Without Sonic Screwdrivers

In a couple of months, I'm going to be forty. Which is not something I really want to deal with, but I guess there's no point in denying it. And since that's traditionally viewed as the point where everything starts to go downhill, I figure I really ought to start taking better care of myself. I mean, my car gets preventative maintenance more often than I do, and it's months overdue for an oil change. So yesterday I had a physical for the first time in... well, let's say it's not quite "ever," but it's close. (It helped that I had to make a doctor's appointment to get more allergy drugs, or, knowing me, I might still be putting it off a year from now.) You'll be pleased to know that everything seems to be where it's supposed to be and my heart is beating and stuff. Also, my blood pressure is still good, which I like to think of as my father's hypertension and my mother's hypotension cancelling out.

I also walked out of the doctor's office with the following: 1) Prescriptions for more allergy drugs, including extra bonus nasal spray, so mission accomplished! 2) An appointment for a mammogram, which I'm sure will be tons of fun. And 3) a referral to a podiatrist in Albuquerque to talk to about my plantar fasciitis, who I need to call as soon as I figure out when the heck my work rotation allows me time for an appointment.

And then today I went back in to have blood drawn for whatever it is they like to check your blood for, since they need to do it when you haven't eaten recently. You know what's a great idea? Take someone who does not deal at all well with needles and blood, catch her when she hasn't eaten in twelve hours and is still groggy from sleeping, don't let her have her normal morning maintenance doses of coffee, and then slowly suck out multiple vials of her blood. It's hilarious! Actually, I was sort of doing OK, mostly by not watching, until I heard the phlebotomist (who was clearly new at her job) say something like, "Why is this happening?" and mutter something about the blood going into my arm instead of into the needle. After that, they had to put moist towelettes on my forehead. I am such an incredible wuss about this sort of thing. It's embarrassing. Even if, evolutionarily speaking, it does seem like a pretty good survival instinct. I mean, prior to the advent of modern medicine, blood coming out of you was pretty much never a good thing. (No, smartass, menstrual blood is a different thing and doesn't count.) If something in the back of my brain keeps wanting to scream, "Nooo! That blood is mine! I'm using that to carry oxygen to my tissues, damn it! Hull breach! Hull breach! AOOOOOGA! AOOOOOOOGA!", well, that's only a sensible response, right? even if it does make me feel bad about not being able to give blood.

Anyway, I now have a bandage around my arm. Which kind of hurts. But at least I can take satisfaction in being a responsible adult and getting the most out of my health insurance and stuff.

14 comments:

  1. Speaking as someone who has had to draw blood from cranky noncaffeinated needle phobes first thing in the morning like yourself, what exactly did the phlebotomist mean by the blood going into your arm instead of the needle?

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  2. I honestly don't know. I was really, really trying not to look or to think about it on account of pondering the question made little black dots dance inside my eyes. I guess either she was injecting instead of sucking at some point, or maybe I was just bleeding onto my arm instead of into the needle? Heck, your guess is probably better than mine. Whatever it was, the apparently more experienced guy with her didn't seem to think it was a big deal. Not that that helped all that much. :)

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  3. Glad everything is good. Keep up the good work.

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  4. My guess is she shifted the needle or poked twice. I had the same thing happen, also with a brand new phlebotomist -- after I had to show her where the veins in my arm were. (I donate blood often, so I know these things.)

    One of the things doctors usually request a blood test for is glucose. If your numbers are high even after not eating, you're a candidate for diabetes. They also test for cholesterol.

    Good for you, scheduling a mammogram. I've heard they're intensely uncomfortable, but we want you blogging for years to come.

    And, darn you for saying the age! I've been dreading my birthday, knowing how old I'm (we're) going to be, but I figure not saying the number out loud (or typing it) means I can ignore it until next year, when I can say, "How did I get so old?"

    On the brighter side, you did get me to choke on my breakfast with the "hull breach" bit. :)

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  5. The funny thing is, she took one look at the (rather prominent) vein on my left arm and said, "Oh, well, I won't have any trouble hitting that!" Maybe she spoke too soon...

    And, yeah, I'm sure they do check glucose and cholesterol, at the very least. I already knew that the fasting is necessary for the glucose test, because I did have one of those several years ago -- I'm fairly high-risk for diabetes -- and I had to fast for that, too. The doctor also said she was going to have them check for thyroid problems, since apparently my thyroid is slightly larger than normal, but she didn't seem to think that was terribly likely to be a real problem. Beyond that, I have no idea what they test for, but they sure drew enough blood.

    What's really funny about the "hull breach" thing is that that's honestly how I think of it. :)

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  6. Oh, and, you know, it is at least comforting to know that, however old I get, you'll at least always be just slightly older. ;)

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  7. Actually, you know what, I think I've figured out what she meant. There's what looks like an odd sort of bruise right above the puncture mark, and I was scratching my head over what the heck she did to it and whether that was at all normal. Taking another look at it now that I've taken the band-aid off, I think what in fact happened is that I started bleeding under my skin a bit. Or, in other words, the blood went into my arm instead of into the needle. Don't ask me why. I'm still kind of trying not to think about the whole thing too much.

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  8. Yikes. I hate needles. At least, I hate them the moment I start to think about them. If I can just look away and blank my mind, it's not too bad...

    Well done with getting yourself checked, and I hope that all the results will come back ok.

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  9. You and me both! Sadly, looking away only helps a little.

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  10. you'll at least always be just slightly older.
    Why do I feel programmed to reply, "Glad to be of service!" here?

    looking away only helps a little.
    One of my first times donating blood was right after my exchange trip to Spain. The nurse told me, "Think of Spain," right before she stuck me, and I didn't feel a thing. Maybe if you think of Australia or Ireland, you can distract yourself from the moment.

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  11. The problem is, it's actually really difficult to think of anything but blood and needles when there's blood and needles. :)

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  12. The last time I was at the doctor, they took a little blood, what was supposed to be just a finger-prick. The nurse, though, managed to make a real mess of it. "Oh, I got blood everywhere," she said. (Which is not something you want to hear, ever, even when it's relatively not a lot of blood.) After a few failed attempts to get enough blood into the pipette, I was on the verge of just taking it from here and saying, "Here, let me do it."

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  13. Ugh. Definitely not something you want to hear. Although "Why is this happening?" is also pretty darned high up there, when coming from someone performing any kind of medical procedure on you.

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