Tuesday 8 March 2011

Drawing blood for good news

Preparing for a date

In two weeks I return for my 6th quarterly check-up at hospital, it has become a routine of expectation and consideration.

Before the appointment, at least 2 weeks before seeing my consultant I have to go in and give blood for tests, the results of which would become the basis of our discussions amongst other things when I see my consultant then.

It was quite a sunny day though deceptively cold, the mercury will not rise above 7 Celsius as the forecasts go so a scarf and gloves are important apparel as I had decided to ride to the hospital.

The process

Amazingly, there is always a long queue of people waiting to have their blood tested, all with forms and checkboxes that determine which tests need to be done.

We arrive, pick up a ticket and wait to be registered, at registration the hospital card is scanned and the nurse looks through the forms and keys in the tests that then produce labels that indicate the number of vials of blood to be taken and what colour the vials are.

I would have thought it would be easier to have a special scanner read the forms and produce the labels, but I suppose I have to give the nurses the benefit of doubt that they are eagle-eyed enough to ensure all the necessary inputs are keyed in.

Today, they were to take 7 vials of blood with 4 different colours which I think means the sets of tests to be conducted on the blood given.

Drawing blood

Considering the number of times I have been pricked with needles for medical purposes, it just never gets easier to watch the needle go beneath the skin in search of a vein.

In fact, I cannot bear to watch it at all; after the tourniquet is put on the upper arm and I clench my fist to allow for a victim vein to show up, I look away as I feel the needle prick my skin and wonder how I can remain so cool about it when I should get hysterical and implacable, screaming blue-murder as if I have gone mental.

I somehow comfort myself, rationalising that it would soon be over and I would either get up from the exercise or slump into a fainting spell, the latter would be the height of histrionics and I know I can do melodrama if given the opportunity.

The blood-sucking contraption is easy, once the needle is in; the low-pressure vial is plugged into the receptacle and that draws the blood till it fills up. Once the vial is detached the receptacle has a valve-stop mechanism that keeps blood from spilling as each successive receptacle is plugged in and unplugged until all the required vials are filled.

For each vial, after it is unplugged the nurse gives it a see-saw shake, not violent but gentle and at the end, labels are stuck on vials.

Meanwhile, the needle is removed and the blood stopped with some cotton wool and tape that could pass for waxing tape especially if your arms are a bit hairy.

Naturally, it is expected you have enough clotting agent in your blood to seal the needle puncture after a few minutes.

My expectations of good change

It two weeks however, my expectations are high with the hope of seeing a more resilient immune system that would allow me to come off some of the pills I ingest every day.

The pills are not necessarily a matter of life and death, they are just a fact of life, a routine and part of the day, something you live with without much fuss having learnt to handle the side-effects well that they no more matter than much anymore.

The catholic pastor was not about and I somehow felt this was one of those times that I really needed someone to chat to about the things that ail me and bother me.

Well, I suppose, I might just book an appointment to see him in a few weeks, probably after I have learnt of the story of my bloods.

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