Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Checking In, Passing Out

Not every day can be as exciting as the tabloids, unless you are squeamish and faint around needles and blood. Then at least every doctors visit ends with an intense scary memory that you can almost actually remember...but not quite...because you aren't actually conscious.

I went to my second pregnancy check up and they informed me that they wanted to draw blood to look for the usual suspects:  blood type, anemia, HIV, et al. For them a routine ordeal, phoning it in. For me a blood stopping torture.

At my first appointment Skip was there and mentioned to the nurse that I have a tendency to pass out. The nurse fussed at me and said, "You should always tell people that so you don't fall to the floor." Skip then held my hand and blocked my sight and began our lamaze classes early, breathe in, breathe out. After 28 years you'd think I could manage that on my own. I can not.

This round I let Skip handle the magazine and I ventured to the doctors on my own. Foolish. As the nurse prepared me for the vampire moment, she went from vein to vein.

"Actually the first one you tried is the best," I said. "I have bad veins. I think it's to discourage drug use."

The nurse laughed and agreed with me, my right arm with the barely there blood rivers would get the prick. She went back to my right arm and prepped it. A little alcohol swab for sterilization. She gets the needle ready. I turn my head, focus on the wall clock and start chanting breathe, breathe, breathe.

"Oh! Let me just check your hand, maybe that would work better."

Breathe, breathe, breathe...WHERE IS MY MOTHER?!

My mom is a registered nurse and spent many years excusing me from school shots. She'd give them to me in the comfort and privacy of our home bathroom. She is amazing. Fast and calm and she also told me to breathe. Then as soon as the needle came out she'd lay me out gently on the cool counter top until color came back to my cheeks.

Now I was being forced to sit up straight (even when I mentioned this whole fetish I have for fainting the nurse still kept me in the chair, the previous nurse, a veteran, had me on a hospital bed ready for a quick lie). The nurse grabbed another alcohol swab and washed my original puncture sight on my right arm. I admit I was quite proud of myself. Normally I'm a shaking mess with tears streaming down my face before we even get to this point. This time I was rationally explaining my job. There just happened to be long pauses while I fought off the looming darkness in the corners of my eyes.

"Look at me! Over here! We're all done. How're you feeling? You okay?"

I nodded.

"Okay, I need you to keep telling me about your job."

Job...I had a job once...and you hear ringing? The nurse's mouth continued to move and I think I answered, or at least nodded my head. I'm very agreeable in such moments. She slapped a cool damp cloth on my forehead. Ah, yes! I work with children who have autism and I'm going to school to get my masters.

What class am I taking? It's got A doctor walks in. She grabs a binder and starts fanning me. "DON'T CLOSE YOUR EYES! DO NOT close your eyes! Over here! LOOK!"

The ringing in my ears subsides a little but I'm pretty sure a monster covered in black fur is speaking to me. The nurse thrusts a cup of water in my hand and helps me hold it up to my mouth. I take a couple gulps and feel my head sway...

Eventually everything comes into focus and I understand what people are saying. I guess technically I didn't pass out, I fought through it as I have every time I get my blood drawn, but really how functional was I? The nurse and doctor gave me more water, examined my purse full of snacks and told me to sit in the waiting room. And then they checked on me to make sure I wasn't leaving and definitely was not trying to drive in such condition. So I ate dry cereal and sipped water until I got the okay to leave.

A pretty good excuse for missing an appointment with a client right?

I'm glad I survived and it's better than having your teacher catch you after you volunteer to have your blood sugar tested (yep, that happened), but they also gave me a note to get my tetnus shot and a flu shot:  Rounds two and three to come. In high school you can coerce your lab partner to prick their finger for a blood sample under the microscope for you:  In the real world there are no substitutes.