Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Drawing Blood

I hate having my blood drawn probably because I hate needles. Nonetheless, I can deal with it. It seems nowadays I have to get my blood checked every time I have my prescriptions renewed. Apparently prescriptions are only good for a year. Then I have to go down to North Coast Family Practice and have somebody ensure I'm still alive so they'll renew my prescriptions.

I'd usually just set up an appointment with a Physician's Assistant- P.A.s being less expensive to see than doctors. Both the ones I'd see would always "suggest" having some bloodwork done to find any hidden problems. Not a bad idea and the first time I went in- not having seen any medical people for years- I went along with it, got the tests done and everything seemed ok.

Went along the time after that, too. Test came back showing my triglycerides were high. I was given some samples of some prescription (Loptor?) to see if that would lower my triglycerides and was told to go get my blood drawn again in two weeks to see if the medication worked. I never got around to it.

The next couple years I went in to renew prescriptions I deliberately- well... kinda deliberately- made sure to try and alternate between P.A.s in hopes they'd forget about the blood test I never got around to taking. Somewhat silly, as they have my medical records with them. They'd always give me the form to go get another blood test and I'd usually find an excuse (actually some very good excuses) for not bothering with it.

Those two P.A.s left North Coast Family Practice fairly recently for reasons unknown to me. At the same time I went to get my prescriptions refilled and found one had expired, which I found rather odd as I usually refilled both at the same time. At any rate, the pharmacy contacted NCFP and got the renewal authorization, but only for a 30 day prescription, not the 100 days I prefer.

Ok. So now I guess I have to go back to see the medics again, although I suppose I should anyway. But my two P.A.s were no longer there. This time I had to see a doctor.

This doctor wasn't going to take any of my sluffing off the blood tests. He set me up to take the blood tests and said to come back in a week when he'd check the results of my blood tests and he'd renew my prescriptions. Damn! He's wise to me. I guess I have no choice but to have my blood drawn now.

Thing is, I just looked and noticed the 30 day prescription they authorized the other day is actually good until next year so I could probably go a couple months before I have to deal with renewing. I suppose I could blow it off again, but I won't.

I blew off the blood test last Friday, telling myself I'll do it first thing Monday. Came Monday and I was thinking of going in there on the way to work, since I had to go to Myrtletown, anyway, and the old General Hospital is right along the way. Problem was, I got hungry. The blood test form specified I'd been fasting.

I wondered if I really had to be fasting and assumed for cholesterol checks I probably did. I had to eat something, though, by the time I went to work. I went ahead with breakfast figuring I'd take a chance on it.

Stopped by the lab on the way to Myrtletown. The lady at registration said they wouldn't draw blood if I'd eaten with the last twelve hours. Just as I figured.

She did say they opened at like six or seven in the morning, though, so I figured I'd come back right around seven on Tuesday morning.

That worked out perfectly. Got in there right around seven and was the only one there. Registered, had my blood taken and was home before seven thirty. Not bad. And the girl that drew the blood did it quickly and painlessly. Gee....I'll have to do that again sometime.
One time I ended up with the blood test from hell there. I think that was the one where I came back with high triglycerides, but I can't be sure.

I went in to St. Joes/ General Hospital that morning. I believe I was paying cash for the blood test back then, went around $300 or so, right out of my pocket.

Nothing unusual until some gal I'd never seen before came out to the waiting room. She called out my name and I responded. She comes up to me and says, "Hi, I'm ******. I'm new here.".

Just what I needed. I get nervous enough with needles and blood tests, now this. But that's ok. I'm here to help.

We go into the drawing room. At that time they had four of five booths in one room. As we went in there I noticed someone getting blood drawn in the booth behind ours.

She feels around and thinks she finds a vein. She tries to insert the needle. She can't find the vein. She keeps trying, finally settling on one location. She still can't find blood. She explains to me that she's having a little trouble and keeps poking around. Still no blood.

She tells me she might need some help and, without taking the needle out, starts calling to the guy drawing blood in the booth behind me. "Yoo, hoo. Ken? Ken, you there? I need some help...".

Problem is, Ken was already done as I'd seen him get up and turn down the hallway. I'm just envisioning, as she bobbing her head around trying to see in the other booth, the needle ripping my veins apart as it's still in my arm. I'm thinking to myself, "And I'm paying for this...?".

There was someone standing on the other side of the booth, behind her, the whole time that seemed to work there. He apparently didn't hear the gal working on me. I finally mentioned to my gal that there was someone right behind her and maybe he could go find Ken. She turned and asked him to find Ken.

Ken comes back and sits down. Finally the needle is taken out of my left arm. No blood came gushing out, either. At least that was over.

Ken takes a look at my right arm, feels my hand and says that I feel cold and clammy and my veins are probably real tight from being nervous, or some such. I kind of resented that as it almost seemed like he was trying to blame it on me. But, he was right. I was nervous, but if I my veins weren't shrunk when I went in there, they sure would have been after the last five minutes.

I didn't say anything, though.

Ken says he can do it in one vein he finds in my right arm but he needed to use a smaller needle and it would take longer to get the right amount of blood than usual. I tell him to have at it.

After a couple of minutes, or so, he gets the blood. They tape cotton on my arm and away I go, thinking to myself, "And I paid $300 out of my pocket for that?".
I related the story to the nurse a week or so later when I went in to N.C. Family Practice. She says, "You know, I used to do phlebotomy. You don't have to put up with that. You can insist on someone with experience....".

I responded that the girl had to have someone for a first "patient". If everyone refuses to have her draw their blood, how is she going to get the confidence and experience to succeed at her new job?

I realize I was hating it but, as I always say, I'm here to help!


At 2:34 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

I thought it was just me. Every time they tried to take blood in Eureka or Arcata they had to try 2-5 times. Since moving here to Georgia there has been no problem. First try each time works. I wonder if the training is different.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Probably just the atmosphere, Leo, and you're more comfortable there.

Seems to me they've usually gotten it on the first try all the other times. Even today the girl checked my right arm, then my left arm, then decided to use the right one and got it first time.

The blood draw from hell was by a NEW girl. Maybe there's a high turnover in that business? I don't know. There used to be a blonde haired cutie doing in Eureka. The wife even mentioned she was real good at it.

She was first to do me after the blood draw from hell and didn't have any problem.

This girl today didn't have any problem, but I'd never seen here before.

As an aside, I went in there twice today and there was no one in the waiting room both times. First time that's ever happened. Usually there's been at least a few other people. What's with that?

Might be the other lab I heard about over in front of St. Joes Hospital. Forget the name, but they supposedly charge less, or so my former P.A. claimed.

At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Fred, just what I need. I go in tomorrow for my blood draw. Only my medical posse has me coming in every 6 months. How you wrangled a year is beyond me.

And of course their hook to get you to come in is to write prescriptions that require re-approval after 6 months. What a racket.

The needle-ist need not be too talented with me. My veins are huge. My wife, however, requires a sharpshooter to find her spiderweb veins.

Hey maybe we can make an "over-under" bet on our cholesterol and triglyceride readings.

Good luck with your results.

Chris Crawford

At 3:45 PM, Blogger Carol said...

Lipitor might be the name of the med that they wanted you to take, Fred. I have been very happy with the lab technician at Eureka Family Practice. We are at the age where it is up to us to take care of ourselves, so please take care of yourself!

At 6:39 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Chris wrote, "Only my medical posse has me coming in every 6 months. How you wrangled a year is beyond me.".

The P.A.s always renewed my prescriptions for a year. I'm wondering if that will change? This doctor said I should probably be coming in there every three months, at my age.

Don't know if I'll go for that.

At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know if you are a Veteran or not. If you are you should go to the Eureka Veteran's Clinic. They are prety good here on blood tests.

Have had some techs stick me with a big needle that should have been used on a horse or maybe an elephant and arm bled for a few hours. Not everyone should take blood. There are those that are experts and you don't even feel a thing. There are those who are doing what?? and your arm bleeds and hurts. So much for experience. Maybe some of those just want you to have an "experience". Actually most are good and it takes experience to get there.
If you need Lipitor you really need to have blood tests and probably alter your eating habits. Look it up on Google. You have a wife to take care of and you need to be around for that.

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Eric V. Kirk said...

My wife's a phlebotomist and draws blood once a week at the Sohum hospital. I hear she's good. She hasn't yet victimized me.

I scared of needles as well, but I've always donated blood. Worth it for the cookies afterward.

Does anybody know what's involved with a marrow donation? I don't get to watch much TV, but in my hotel stays I've seen ads pushing for donors.

At 8:18 AM, Blogger Carol said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Carol said...

Having been doing some research on bone marrow extractions and transplants because my Dad is still undergoing testing for Multiple Myeloma, I have reading different articles like this article.

At 8:28 AM, Blogger Carol said...

Sorry about the typo, as I got distracted. It should read, I have been reading different articles like . . .

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Note that the article Carol refers to is from 1999.

I'm no expert, but I understand they rarely, if at all, use actual bone marrow, for bone marrow transplants anymore. I don't believe they do bone marrow at all at UCSF. They use stem cells.

After the donor is chosen, they stick a needle in the donor's jugular vein and draw all the blood through a filter and some sort of centrifuge, removing the stem cells. Then the blood is sent right back into the donor's neck.

I don't know if they process the stem cells after that, but shortly thereafter the stem cells are injected into the recipient by means of a standard IV.

By all accounts the procedure is rougher on the donor than the recipient.

The wife got her stem cells from one of her sisters. I know of one local gal that had to go through the national donor registry and got her stem cells from someone I don't think she's even met.

Not sure how you register with the donor registry, but I would think that would be the place to start if considering donating marrow or stem cells. All that it takes is screening for certain diseases and DNA typing, as far as I know.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Carol said...

Gee, thanks, Fred. I guess there may be a lot more new information since 1999. Here is an article from March 2001. My dad had some bone marrow taken for testing last week. Have not heard the results yet.

At 1:08 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

They certainly still do bone marrow biopsies. The wife has had a number of them done.

At 10:28 PM, Blogger Carol said...

How is your wife doing lately, Fred? Is she in remission?

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

She is not doing well and is not in remission. Her bone marrow transplant failed. She is awaiting additional chemotherapy.

At 7:44 AM, Blogger Carol said...

I am very sorry to hear that, Fred. I will keep you and Connie in our prayers.

At 7:36 PM, Blogger mresquan said...

Well I donate platelets every other Wednesday at the blood bank,have been doing it for the past few years.I'm also a potential marrow donor,but haven't been a donor yet.I was called on 2 different occasions but nothing ever came of it.Once they were going to fly me to St.Louis,and the other time somewhere in the East Bay,San Ramon or Danville.Just the description of the procedure had me cringing,but I'd definitely do it.
Heck Fred,maybe I can help out your wife.

At 7:47 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

"maybe I can help out your wife.".

Nope. It's already been done with the best donor that could be found.

Thanks, though.


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