Sunday, December 05, 2004

Hospital Tests

I had a hellish day today.
I can giggle a bit about it now, but at the time...
I left the house at 8am, I was feeling quite crap as I'd made myself stay awake so I would not miss my hospital appointment, one of the problems with this whole 'sleepy' illness thing is I appear to have lost the ability to wake up when an alarm goes off.
I stood at the bus stop in the rain for around 20 minutes enduring the mindless gossip of the group of 11-15yr olds stood smoking and spitting alongside me
I could feel myself turning into the 'disapproving aunt' type, my mouth getting more and more pursed as I saw that the youngest looking boy was in fact smoking a spliff and was handing it around amongst them - obviously using it as his tool to gain kudos amongst his peers.
It was with quite a large amount of relief I watched them all get onto a bus other than the one I was waiting for.

I got to the hospital, only to realise the stop was nowhere near the main entrance, I walked into the building through the nearest entrance and promptly got lost trying to find outpatients B. I finally made it in time for my appointment - not really a problem seeing as I had to wait before a nurse came and took me to be weighed.
The appointment itself was great - The woman I spoke to was both cheerful and understanding - and very thorough!
I was poked, prodded, tapped all over with a rubber mallet thingie and reduced to tears when interrogated about how this has affected my life, she then wrote everything up - assured me that while it looked very likely I had post-viral fatigue syndrome, it was unlikely to be chronic as there were many things we could start doing now (depending on the waiting lists) I do NOT have fibromyalgia as previously suspected (YEY!) and she would be sending a full report to my doctor regarding treatment and recommendations.
That has to be the most thorough and informative non invasive check up I've ever had.
Then I got packed off with a tissue and a smile to have some blood taken for tests.

I got downstairs to Outpatients A, was directed to a box on the wall where I took No.89 and sat down with my book to wait to be called (it was hot and very busy and the nurses looked far too overworked and harassed to be as nice as they were)
My number finally got called after about an hour or so, I went into the room sat down and watched with mounting horror as she started piling up the plastic receptacles for my blood.
after she'd selected about 6 and was still going I rather tremulously asked if I really had to fill all of them - she looked at me over the rim of her glasses and pointed at the 4 cards I'd been given to show her "that's what they've asked for" she said.

I at this point began to feel a little sick.

As is the same for most people - needles scare me, I've had so much blood taken in recent years though that I no longer whimper and cry at the sight of 'em - but it's a close run thing each time.
I sat there gathering my courage together and steadfastly looked away from her continually growing pile and tried to think soothing thoughts whilst regulating my breathing.
She finally looked at me properly and noticed my distress, was very kind and tried distracting my attention by talking to me as she inserted the tap.
After about the 4th one started drawing, I could feel my gorge rising - again I attempted the soothing thoughts and breathing technique, but by the 8th or 9th I was dry heaving as she hurriedly tried to finish off before I passed out.

As she was on the last one - after reassuring me that "this one's only a little one, soon be over now" Some jerk started calling for her attention asking why he had to wait as he had to be somewhere else etc etc etc - I was there feeling as though my life was being drained away - obviously unwell, and this WANKER was trying to draw her attention away and therefore prolong my suffering, thankfully she sent him off with a flea in his ear and took out the tap whilst I sagged weakly back into the chair - she grabbed me just as I felt my eyes roll up and I fell forwards onto her lap.
A second or so later, resting my head between my legs and coaching my breathing, I could hear the concern in her voice as she commented on my total loss of colour, someone else curtained off the area I was in and a Dr arrived with a male nurse, they transferred me from the chair to a trolley - someone else got a fan from somewhere and I had water pressed upon me with an order to drink.

By this point I was so embarrassed and I couldn't stop the tears - which embarrassed me even more.
I just kept apologising for taking up the space when they were so busy and getting told not to worry about it, just rest easy for a bit, after about 10-15 minutes I was able to make myself sit up and actually drink the water they'd given me, but I couldn't use my right arm as it had gone totally numb, to make the embarrassment just that little worse, I had to also go and get a urine sample when she pronounced my 'colour' better, the nurse watched my bags etc as I lurched out to the toilet, people swiftly moving out of my way as though I were carrying some awful disease - When I saw my reflection It shocked the hell out of me.

If this was me with better colour - what the hell had I gone like before it returned?! I kid you not - I truly looked vampiric - all I needed was the teeth and a small dribble of blood from my mouth to complete the look. Because of the crying my eyes were glowing red, my lips were red through being bitten nervously and my skin was the kind of chalk white you only see on a dedicated goth.

I finished my business, went back to the nurses station, retrieved my bag and lurched through to the cafe still feeling as though I were going to throw up or pass out or both. All that was in my mind was the need to get out of there. In hindsight I should have just stayed longer, lay down and waited without embarrassment. But - hey, I'm not the most sensible of people on occasion.

I stood looking at the remnants of their stock at the cafe, trying to make some kind of decision as to which would help me the most quickly without throwing my reflux motion back into action. I grabbed a ginger slice and waited at the counter, virtually unable to stand while the woman at the till (no doubt a lovely person) took forever to serve the 2 people in front of me.

I must have looked about as bad as I felt as the other lady behind the counter had been eyeing me with some concern, whilst the lass at the till faffed her way through the other orders, she asked if I wanted a drink - told me to go and sit down and she brought my things to me and took the money at the table.
Very gratefully, I sat consciously controlling my breathing and sipping my tea, looked at the clock and realised that I'd only been at the hospital for 3 1/2 hours. After about another hour of this, I still felt like shit but figured the sooner I got home the sooner I could actually pass out. I even felt rough enough to go through my phone in an attempt to think of someone who could come and get me. Why do most of my friends not drive? *sigh*
I got out to the bus stop and managed to embarrass myself further, about a dozen messages came through from J so I called her, the second she asked how I was - yup, tears. Again.

Bless 'er, she handled my almost hysteria quite well.
I walked away from the crowded stop and the prying eyes to a quiet side of the building and squatted against the wall as I told her about my 'ordeal', she understood that I'd be in no fit state to go for the meal we'd planned and managed to jolly me back up into an almost goodwill state again.
I went back to the stop caught the bus and spent the entire journey almost rocking back and forth in an attempt to stay focused - telling myself I was nearly home.
I finally got home at 1.30pm and literally crashed on my bed fully clothed.

I woke up at 6.30pm to a phone call from my mum wanting to know how it had gone (she'd also been to the hospital today - she has to go back for a mamogram as they've found a lump which is a little worrying) I told her about it, she told me to go get some food, a sentiment echoed by both my gran and S when I spoke to them not long after. So I rang the chinese on the corner of my street, ordered a lemon chicken with fried rice, made a cup of tea and went out to collect my food.
I managed about a quarter of it along with an episode of the Simpsons and the west wing before I had to go back to bed. I'm now awake again - still feel like crap, but at least after the bath I have running and another cuppa I should feel a bit more human.
I'm now also able to think back to today - yes I'm embarrassed about it (no reason, I just am) but at least I can laugh now. It's good when the tears can be controlled eh?!

Just a word to the wise - unless they tell you otherwise, always eat before a hospital appointment, it makes giving blood that little bit easier on the system.

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