Thursday 6 June 2024

Telling new tales again in blood

Just for the blood

I winced in nearly excruciating pain as the phlebotomist tried to extract 10 vials of blood from my veins and was most assuredly doing it from a muscle or tissue in my arm. The flow had stopped early and the wriggle room she found was a bruising stab with push and ease to fill the vials with blood.

This was the most ever that had been extracted for tests since I attended a follow-up consultation for my biannual checkups. In my discussion with the consultant registrar who saw me on Wednesday morning, I presented all my concerns with the results I had been getting for the past 8 months to determine any trends to address issues early.

Before giving blood, I was asked for a urine sample, the colour was richly white wine yellow and not too bad a bouquet, as I explained to the nurse to account for the fact that I had a prostate biopsy a few weeks ago, and this might affect the quality of the urine sample. It was however the most painful blood clinic I ever attended.

Even when they could not find blood and I had been punctured to the effect that I could pass for Swiss cheese, pain was never a component of that experience as this was, the comforting just-a-scratch statement before you are stabbed with a hypodermic needle was replaced with the phrase, ‘almost done’ and there were still 5 vials to go. It was her poor technique and nothing to do with me having latent or actual belonephobia, which could easily induce the fear of medical procedures if I remember the staple gun sound of the biopsy procedure.

Turning up and turning out

However, the day started slowing with what was a night of not enough sleep and as I planned my journey to the hospital, I decided on an easier ride that took me through backroads I have walked many times but never plied in a vehicle. The driver was the first of many who complimented me. The desire to present a sunny disposition regardless of the circumstances remains one I enjoy.

As I stepped out of the vehicle when we got to the hospital, a nurse stopped me in my tracks too and with her compliments said words to the effect, “It is nice to see a gentleman take the time to dress up nicely.” It might be a hospital where we all come to a humbling of our humanity, but that should not mean the absence of humour, goodness, brightness, and something to put a smile on people’s faces. I think my mere appearance did as much for some.

More than miscellaneous

Having printed out my notes from that last visit that needed updating and corrections, we dealt with my health, my welfare, my social situation, the many questions I had, the opportunities for a new line of therapies I was not ready to assume until I had read up on the study. Strangely, medical decisions had been made to include this in our regimen even as Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, along with China and Japan did not have any participants in the cohort study. I had my misgivings.

As I asked for another serum folate check which determines whether I have a folic acid deficiency, another one could not be booked as there had to be a 90-day lapse from the last check in the hospital systems. I then realised that my general practice and the hospital shared the same blood laboratory. The hospital had visibility of all the results, whereas my general practice could only see the results of the tests they had ordered.

The integration and agglomeration of systems cannot come sooner, they need to be reading from the same set of data, not repeating tests to confirm situations. I sought and got an alignment of my pill regimes which had gone askew since 2018 but had me putting in a new prescription for one of them last month because my usual April – October consultations had drifted to November – May, and now is on a June – December biannual cycle.

It was a nice outing to the hospital, not much bruising in my arm and I caught up on much-needed sleep.

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