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That dreaded day – the annual check-up at the Doctor’s office. Sitting hunched up and alone in a cold, sterile room, dressed in nothing but socks and a stiff “paper-towel” dress, waiting for what seems an eternity to answer personal questions about things that are generally not discussed in polite conversation. Such an appointment requires intense physical preparation – shower, shave and new toenail polish – as well as mental preparation – list of questions to ask, remembering how old I am… I always pack a crossword puzzle or two, to keep my mind off the Doc’s impending arrival, thereby keeping my blood pressure low. That’s not usually a problem because I always have low blood pressure. Make me stand still long enough and I’ll prove it when I end up on the floor…

Before being placed in a small, cold room and told to “please take everything off. Slit goes in the back”, the Dr’s assistant measured my height and weight. I’m happy to report two things: 1) I haven’t started shrinking yet; and, 2) my bathroom scales match the Dr’s scales, which means I have lost approximately 10 pounds in the last 12 months. No wonder my clothes aren’t fitting well any more. It’s a nice problem to have!

I hightailed it out of there and drove over to the lab for blood work, knowing that I’d arrive at lunch time and would have to wait longer. The lab now makes appointments so the wait for walk-ins was longer…and I spent another hour working on my crossword puzzle. It never ceases to amaze me how a simple poke can cause stabbing pain to run from your wrist to your shoulder for up to half an hour from the initial indignity.

Of course, with low blood pressure and tiny veins (some parts of me are tiny), the nurse taking my blood is forced to become a member of the World Wresting Entertainment franchise. First, she wraps a brilliant blue rubber band around my upper arm and wiggles it until it pinches. When the band has succeeded in cutting off all circulation in my arm and I can barely hold on to the gold toilet paper roll any longer, she starts beating me up. First she rubs my inner elbow, but when that fails to produce results, she starts patting, then slapping and flicking. But the abuse is preferable to the cocky nurses who blindly aim as if I were a dart board. They stick their tongue out and with a sadistic glint in their one open eye, blindly stab. And when they miss (and they have missed) and I yell, they glare at me accusingly and mutter disparaging remarks, as if I had any control over the issue. Seriously, I’m not a masochist, I’m not withholding because I’m shy, and I’m not being a control freak. Well I am a bit of a control freak, but not when it comes to giving a blood samples.

The sign said that to reduce bruising, keep your arm straight, apply pressure for up to 3 minutes, and avoid heavy lifting for 24 hours. I’m sure they just post that so they can laugh at the person trying to balance a coat, a health card and a purse while keeping one arm straight and applying pressure to the cotton ball taped to the inner elbow. Then I went grocery shopping, so there’s the heavy lifting. I will bruise regardless of what action I take…in fact, I’ve had 3 mystery bruises in the last month and while I have a vague recollection of bouncing off something, I have no memory of what or when I bounced. At least parts of me appear to be in excellent health, even if my memory is not. Annual torture done!

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