Monday, February 24, 2014

Bloody day in Boston

Nothing can set your heart to racing quite like someone reading a blood test result and saying, "Oh no, that's not good."

This happened to me today when I got my finger pricked to measure my hemoglobin before getting a therapeutic phlebotomy. It needed to be 12 (which is normal). The reading said 10.4. I told the phlebotomist that it was strange, because last month it was normal range.

"A lot can happen in a month," she said.

I said this was making me nervous. She told me not to worry, she would get a nurse to try the test again, on the other hand. "We transplant patients are a nervous lot," I said, by way of explanation.

Five-year "cure" notwithstanding, it doesn't take much to shake your confidence.

When she left the room, I noticed drops of blood falling from my bandaged finger. Drip drip drip, onto the floor, onto her desk and onto my newspaper. Great, I thought, my platelets must be low too.

I went out to find the nurse, who came in, applied pressure to the bleeding finger and tried the other hand. She asked if I was wearing lotion, and when I said yes, she scrubbed extra hard because she said sometimes the residue throws off the test. This time it read 11.6, which was close enough.

So I got comfortable in the chair and turned my head when the phlebotomist put the large needle into a vein. I could feel pain from her pushing it around and knew from experience that this was not good. The needle had gone under the vein, not into it.

She asked if I had had enough, but I had come this far and I wasn't going to quit. I was happy that she asked another phlebotomist to try it because he got the needle in on his first try in the other arm. The rest of the procedure went smoothly, lasting only six minutes to fill a unit of blood.

I went from there to my appointment with Melissa, who was running two hours late due to rebooking of appointments that were canceled during the last two snowstorms. I rested my head against the wall and fell asleep.

The aide who finally took me in said I didn't look so good and offered to carry my bag. Poor Melissa was all flushed and looked even worse than I did. She said they had triple-booked her and she just couldn't keep up. I told her she could feel free to push me on through, but she just isn't like that and took her time with me like she usually does.

My counts were all fine. And I was glad to hear that my liver numbers had improved while on the lower dose of prednisone. Melissa said that maybe next  time I could go down to 2 mgs. a day.

It ended up being a four-bandage day: One on each middle finger and one in the crook of each elbow.

By then it was almost 5 p.m. It might have made sense to spend the night. But I wanted to get home to go to my tutoring job tomorrow. Even though it's a volunteer job, I don't like to skip unless it is for something like when I was taking oxycodone for my toothache.

So I caffeinated and powered on through. On Thursday, I get to do the whole thing again, though thankfully just for the dermatologist and the dentist, who won't be taking any blood.


Anonymous said...

Way to go, Runder-Woman! so patient with the blood-drawing...yikes that must hurt...

glad you got to meet your grand puppy -- super name -- as in noah?


Anonymous said...

Your story inspired me. You are very strong person.My husband is fighting pancreatic cancer and there are lots of up and down in our life. I wish you the best.