Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mutton-Chopped Vampires

So I have this thyroid problem. It's not really a problem, I guess, it just doesn't seem to work. It quit right after Tucker was born and caused me some temporary, yet very real, insanity. Since then I just have to take a tiny pill every day so I can pretend my thyroid works like it should.

I'm supposed to take my medicine ate least two hours after eating and at least one hour before eating. This means that the window lies somewhere between second and third periods. Each morning when I get to school I put my little pill on my desk so I won't forget to take it during optimal-thyroid-replacement-hormone-time.  But that's not why I'm blogging. It's just background information.

Every year or so I have to get my blood drawn and see the doctor to make sure my medication level is correct. Usually I can extend that year by a month or so by calling and begging for a refill of my prescription and promising to get in for blood work right away. Finally, I get to a point where I'm sure the doctor's office won't take my calls, and I reluctantly make my way to the lab at Scott and White.

Now, I do not mind blood, especially blood that belongs to other people. I am ridiculously calm during a crisis, and I've yet to completely panic about even the most severe injuries I've witnessed in my life. For example, I rode the bus exactly one day throughout my high school career (because I'm very resourceful and I dated boys with trucks, of course), but on that day one kid stopped on his way off the bus to break the nose of another kid seated on the bus. I opened the first aid kit for bandages, nursed the broken-nosed boy ("lean forward so you don't choke or swallow too much blood"), and directed the freaked out bus driver to stop at the nearest gas station so we could go inside and call 911. I spoke to the paramedics and even had to be washed down with that magic bleach stuff they have because I was covered in the kid's blood. The bus looked like a massacre had taken place. It was gross, but it didn't phase me.

My own blood bothers me only slightly more unless it's being intentionally withdrawn into a little glass tube. I find this process to be unnatural. The fact that someone is drawing out my blood and measuring it into a tiny container is akin to something from a science fiction movie. My mind races during the procedure, wondering, "What are they going to do with the blood when they're done? How much blood do they have stored in this lab? Does anyone ever spill it?  Who has to clean that up?"

You can see why it is unfortunate that I am forced to attend regularly scheduled blood drawings once every year or so.

Alas, today I went to have my blood drawn, which is the real point of this post. I approached the window to find a young, mutton-chopped man in a lab coat sitting casually in an office chair.

Mutton-chop guy: Here for a blood draw?
Me: Yep.
Mutton-chop guy: I'm sorry.  BWAAHAHAHAHAHA!

This was strange, but I decided the guy was probably a fill in for the receptionist and let it go. Ten minutes later he appeared in the doorway and called, "Stormy Hickman?"

I followed him back to a small cubicle, and he pulled the curtain closed. That's when I realized that mutton-chop, laughing, "I'm sorry" guy was about to stab me to death with a needle. I became a little nervous.

Mutton-chop guy: Right arm or left?
Me (offering up both arms): Whichever you think is best.

He then proceeded to spend a full minute staring at the insides of my elbows, making little grunting noises like "hmph" and "mmmmm." Finally, he responded, "I think the left one is best."

I realized at that moment that I had a choice to make.  I could flee, run for my life to ensure my children don't have to live through a motherless future. I could maintain my composure and ask to see his credentials to calm my nerves. I had to save myself!

But I only started breathing hard and smiling bigger, hoping to ease this mutton-chopped blood-taker's nerves so that he didn't screw up.

He prepared his instruments of my torture and applied the tourniquet to my upper arm. Then he had another decision to make.  Which vein?

For yet another full minute he poked and prodded the veins on the inside of my left elbow, "humphing" and "mmmming" all the while. All I could think was "He will not stick me twice. I will leave. I do not need my thyroid medicine that much. Maybe if I stop taking it my thyroid will realize that I really do need it and it will jump in and start doing its job again. What if I pass out?  Will they know who to call to come get me? How come I never programmed that ICE number in my cell phone like Brian Nock told me to?"

He must have sensed my anxiety, perhaps because I was sweating profusely, and he laughed, "I didn't mean to scare you. Both veins are just so great!"

It was at that moment that I decided he must have been a vampire. Not a real vampire (I know those don't exist), but the kind of vampires that they do Dateline specials about. You know the kind I'm talking about, misunderstood, oft-mutton-chopped people who think they gain strength from drinking the fresh blood of thirty-something high school teachers. He was one of those, I decided.

But the procedure proceeded, and as the blood flowed freely from my arm into the tiny glass container that no doubt would later be fitted with a straw, I truly, honestly believed I would pass out. I wondered if the needle would remain in my arm on the way down or if it would be yanked out as I fell to the floor. I planned for which way I should fall to sustain the least injury.

And then it was over.

"Have a good day!" mutton-chop guy said cheerily.

"Thanks!  You, too!" I replied.

And that was that. It may have been the longest five minutes of my life. But if I see the doctor on Thursday and he doesn't have my test results, a little part of me will wonder if my super-happy, very competent phlebotomist didn't take my sample home with him.


Randi said...

Stormy, did you have to look up that word? Phlebomomathist? I bet you did..

StormyHickman said...

Believe it or not, I actually knew that word. Maybe my fascination with/terror of getting my blood drawn has caused me to research the situation in the past.

Donna said...

Brian Nock cannot wait to be able to have a phone with an ICE number! We saw the boys this weekend and they are doing very well.