If there's one thing that I'm not overly thrilled about in this life, it's the necessity of needles. Not that I spend time worrying about vaccinations or blood draws or whatevs (that is, however, how I spent a good chunk of my childhood), but I'd be cool if it all just went away.
My mother was/is big on the whole "it's your responsibility to take care of your health because no one else will" ordeal, which I thought was sort of unfortunate when I was a kid because she was one of those mothers who would make sure our immunizations were updated and the like.
On the upside, I probably have her to thank for the fact that my twice-yearly dentist appointments and yearly physicals actually happen, despite the high percentage that a needle might be produced at any give moment.
So anyway. I diligently made my yearly appointment last month, and, like the responsible adult I am (why are you laughing?), I even asked if I needed to have blood work this year. The receptionist assured me that my doctor (whom I love and adore) likes her patients to have blood work every year. This was a bummer--I usually get to slide a while between tests, and I just had one last year--but it didn't ruin my day. I mean, I am 39. Maybe I'm just at that age?
This morning, the day of reckoning arrived. Happily for all parties involved (I guess just me), I didn't have to have my cholesterol checked this year (my cholesterol is a thing of beauty, just FYI), which meant no fasting. Yay breakfast! I'm a girl who enjoys her morning meal. And her coffee. Mostly the coffee. With lots of cream.
Seriously, is there anything better than that first cup o' coffee in the morning? No. And that's all I have to say about that.
I eat my toast with peanut butter and drink my coffee, and I kiss my girls good-bye, and I head to the doctor's office. I'm still not nervous--I'm so wise and mature!--and anyway, I have my iPod blasting, and it's a beautiful day, and this whole ordeal should take less than five minutes, right?
I get to the office right smack on time (why is it that the only time I meet up with drivers who enjoy traveling ten miles below the speed limit is when I'm running late?) and then have to sit there a minute or two because they've mislaid my paperwork, and the new... um, blood-drawing lady?... won't start until she has it. Or at least that's what they kept saying at the front desk, but I was all like, well, I'm glad she doesn't just go in there without knowing what sorts of tests she's supposed to run, and anyway, I'm trying to play Thread Words on my Kindle.
I finally get the go-ahead (I would have been cool with a few more minutes of game playing, in all honesty--Thread Words is stupid* and yet addictive) and the blood-drawing lady comes out to meet me. She's very nice and perky. I sit in the chair and we chat a bit about slow computers, and if Eric is still my emergency contact (why, yes he is!), and what I had going that morning (no work until noon!). I told her that one time like three years ago I said that I'm an easy blood draw, and then the... other blood-drawing lady?... couldn't get anything out of my sweet little veins, and then I fainted, so I was certainly not going to jinx myself by saying that. Hardy-har-har.
So the blood-drawing lady slaps that band around my arm and tries to distinguish which of my veins is the best bet. Apparently I have little veins that like to wiggle around. That's totally gross, and not what I needed to hear with needle-impending trauma just around the corner, but still, being so wise and mature, I let it slide with a smile. And then I was all, you can do it, little veins! Because I was pretty sure that a good pep-talk was all that would be required.
My right arm got the honor of having the best vein options, and I turned a bit in my seat so I wouldn't have to watch. I don't like watching any of it--not the vein search, not the cleansing of the area, and certainly not the needle insertion. I apologized for jumping when the needle went in--I always do that. But I was being cool and all, cooing to my veins even though nothing was happening and the blood-drawing lady was having to search a bit deeper than I would have liked.
Not that it hurt or anything. Mostly it was just the thought.
But hey, I've given birth twice, and really, in the grand scope of things, this is a cake walk. So she kept searching, and I keep chatting aimlessly to distract myself, and finally I hear an "Ahhh!" and I know that we've struck gold.
And all was fine there for like thirty seconds, and then all of a sudden I'm seeing stars.
So I say, rather calmly, that I need to lay down. The blood-drawing lady tells me to just put my head down. I tell her that I feel faint. She tells me to just hold on (apparently they don't like you running around when you've got a needle sticking out of your arm. Stupid rules), and she'll find me a room, and we'll finish up. And I'm like, no, I don't think I can finish up, that one little vial is going to have to do it. And please, please let me lay down.
"Can you walk?" the blood-drawing lady asks. Yes, I think so. "Do you feel like you're going to be sick?" No. "Walk this way. No, THIS way. Hang onto me."
I didn't want to hang onto her, though, because I was suddenly sweating profusely, and I felt bad that I was all sticky and gross. I mean, I'd just met this woman. I didn't care if she is in the medical profession and has seen this all before. I could feel her gripping my arm, but I didn't grip her back.
Which was about the time I could feel my legs buckling out from under me, and all sounds became muted, and I could hear her calling for help. As I was going down, part of me was thinking, wow, either I'm walking down some stairs or I'm getting closer to the floor, while the other half was all like, you're fainting, idiot!
The blood drawing lady was a good five or six inches shorter than me, and she just couldn't support my weight no matter how hard she tried. I could feel the exam table, but I knew the physical effort to get up there was not possible. I asked if I could just lay on the floor, and to my relief, she agreed.
I forgot to ask if I'd actually passed out. I mean, if I'm going to go through all that, I may as well lose consciousness, right? Not that THAT would add dignity to this situation in any way, but I'd feel better about it.
I could hear people talking around me--my doctor found me, which I thought was nice because I wasn't even in her section of the building--but they sounded very, very far away. When they began to sound closer, I risked opening my eyes.
Two nurses, two doctors, and the blood-drawing lady. Not a bad crowd.
Although that doesn't include the workmen switching out the phone lines in the hall or the entire front desk area or whoever else happened to be in the hall at the time. Just a ballpark figure here, but I think at least ten people were witness to my shame.
I tell Nurse #1 that I think I can crawl up to the bed now. "Oh, no you aren't," she says. "You're blood pressure is too low. You're going to stay right there."
Nurse #1 flashes my doctor a piece of paper that I assume has my numbers on it. I take this as a relatively bad sign, because if my blood pressure was good, they'd just say so. It's only when they don't want you to freak out that they hide stuff from you. Which is usually when I freak out.
But I figured, well, I'm in a doctor's office for one thing, so probably I am not going to die. And also, Eric is just right up the road. AND my favorite mother-in-law was behind me during my ride into town, and I knew she was just up the street too. This was all very reassuring.
My doctor sits on the floor next to my head and starts telling me about how she fainted as a med student doing a c-section, and when she came to the nurses brought her a tray of food and she thought she should faint more often because that was pretty great. She gave me a cold compress and told me that when your blood pressure is 90/60, like mine is (when I'm stressed), a little shot of adrenaline can pop you down to the 70s pretty fast. That made me feel better. She also said because of my "adverse reaction to blood draws" that I don't have to do it again for five entire years. So let that be a lesson to you, kids.
The blood-drawing lady was apologetic, but I was all like, sorry for almost crushing you under my body, and also, it's not you, it's me. Really. I'm a fainter. Thanks for bringing my bag in for me while I lay here on the floor.
Someone brought me a bottle of bright orange glucose test juice, and I was like, I don't think I can drink that. "No! It's disgusting!" my doctor agreed, and I was like, no, well yes, it is gross, but mostly it's just that the bright orange color that will kill me, and she was like, "Oh, right." So Nurse #2 brings me blueberries and a cheese stick, and a cup of water. I felt sort of bad about that, but by then I had it in me to sit up, which seemed to make everyone else in the room feel better, so I was left to settle my wits all by myself, which was sort of a nice change of pace after all the public humiliation.
I snuck a peek at the paper Nurse #1 was hiding from me. Apparently my blood pressure had dropped to 78/50. So that was sort of exciting.
At any rate, I eventually made it out of the room, blueberries and cheese stick and water in hand. Nurse #1 met me in the hall. "You look better," she said, although I couldn't really tell if she was serious or just trying to make me feel better. I made it out of the building (the receptionist, whom Eric graduated with, asked if I was okay--the humiliation continues!) and sat in my car and called Eric. Who wasn't at his desk (even though he should obviously be on standby at all times just in case I need to talk to him). I left a message, cranked up my iPod, and made it home.
Once at home, I took about an hour's nap. My head has hurt all day--I'm not sure if that's because of the blood pressure dip or the hard floor--and my stomach hurts, too (adrenaline rush has activated my IBS, which is always the recipe for a good time). But I made it through my five-hour work stint. Not that I've managed to do anything else tonight aside from eat dinner and blog (and see the castle Johanna made out of garden shed debris). I'm thinking it might be time to go clean the kitchen. Even though my arm is all bruised and sucky looking.
(Okay, fine, it doesn't look THAT bad. But it hurts like the dickens.)
The end, I guess.
*Because I can't get past level five.
Tonight's song obviously must be "Faint" by Linkin Park. I love this song. LOVE.