blood and brain damage

Blood
I’ve been putting it off…who wants to get blood drawn? I do not want to have a needle popped through my delicate, paper-like skin and all my life’s blood sucked from my vulnerable body, oh no. But it’s my one-year post surgery checkup, and as part of it, I needed to get several hundred thousand tests done on my blood composition and have the architectural soundness tested and my platelets thumped and my oil changed, so they sent me a lab checklist and told me to get cracking. I didn’t want to get cracking, because, well, see above and also ow.

But also, I know I’ve been bad with my vitamins—I can feel it in my wishy-washy dizzy head, and the tingling in my feet, and how cold I am and how tired I am. I already absorb vitamins poorly; not being perfect with my supplements means I am putting myself at a bigger disadvantage. Putting myself at a bigger disadvantage means I am a fucking dumbass who may have made herself anemic, given herself nerve damage, and feels lousy all the time. But I still put off the blood test. I blame the brain damage.

I went to my PCP, to check out the crazy head feelings. He said yes,
you’re stupid and are probably anemic. Let’s get you a blood test. I
said, “I have all these blood tests to get! Can I do it all together?”
Sure, fine, he said. So I toddled down to the lab, where they looked at
the bloodwork order, looked at me, looked at the time, and then said,
“You’ve been fasting all day?” "Oh," I said. "Whoops. No." "Come back
tomorrow," they said. Except I didn’t, because having to get up early in
the day before work is hard, and I am brain damaged.

All week, I put it off and put it off and finally, on Saturday, a ray
of light crawled through the wreckage of my brain and said oh hey,
hello..they’re open on Saturday, go get your fucking blood tested.
So I
checked the address, virtuously walked by the coffee shop without
stopping, and hauled my ass out to Pacific Heights to get stuck with
needles and confirm how damaged my brain is.

The waiting room was packed, and I kept my shirt and sweater and jacket
and scarf and bag on, because sitting there, I felt very, very about to
be stabbed by a lot of needles and very, very unhappy about it. They
had me fill out forms, and I was charming to the lady behind the
counter in case she was the one who was going to spike me. It is good
to have the person who is about to wound you deliberately on your side
and liking you. You don’t want to hurt the people you like, right? We
will not get into a philosophical discussion about the people you love,
however, because my brain is too damaged to follow it.

She was not knifing me, however; it was a young-looking phlebotomist,
with a very faded badge, who did not seem to care very much when I told
her I was nervous. "Oh," she said. “How long have you been doing this?” I
asked charmingly. “Almost a year,” she droned, and my intestines all
clenched as one. She was frowning at my bloodwork order, and put down
the two tubes she had picked up, turned, and started plucking more out
of the wall display behind her. One handful on the tray, and then
another handful, and then another. I did not count, because my heart
seized up after the first handful. I did stop and take a picture
though, because when my brain is so thoroughly damaged I no longer have
any concept of the present or the past, I want to remember this moment.

She punctured me with a big needle, because otherwise it was going to
take an hour to suck out all my blood and leave me dry and desiccated.
We talked about the holidays. Mostly I kept my gaze averted from the
carnage happening in my arm. She tapped me off, slapped a bandage on,
and wandered away. She came back with juice, which I drank gratefully.
She returned a moment later and said “We need four more vials!” My
brain gave up at this point and just dissolved into a slightly sticky
liquid that ran down the inside of my neck and filled my veins back up.

I gave her my other arm, she rolled up my legs like I was a tube of
toothpaste to squeeze out the last drops of blood, and then she sent me
staggering out into the street, with only my wits to protect me, which
means I am pretty much screwed, what with the brain damage. I get the
results next week. Probably I won’t remember the bad news five minutes
after I get it, so I’m not too worried.

  9 comments for “blood and brain damage

  1. anon
    December 3, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Oh lord, I am THE biggest baby when it comes to getting blood drawn. I would have put it off at least a few more weeks.

    I once almost fainted and they had only taken two vials. I mean it about *almost* fainted, because I didn’t actually hit the floor, but when they finished taking blood and told me I could leave I stood up and everything went momentarily black and I crumpled but then I caught myself before I hit the floor and did an embarrassingly drunken-like stumble back to the chair. So they brought me juice and, um, I think laughed at me because, note above, it was two vials.

    So, I hear you, sister.

    I hope everything checks out okay. But, listen, take your vitamins, silly.

  2. December 3, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    I hear you on putting it off. I had to have 4 vials taken recently, and told a friend I would take her out to brunch if she would hold my hand. Can’t back out of a date with a friend, so I went and sucked it up while she told bad jokes.

  3. December 3, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    I got very light headed when I clicked on the photo of all the vials. I DO pass out when they take blood. Nearly every time. I’m gettin woozy just thinking about it. How much weight do you think you lost in blood? You did consider that, right?

  4. December 3, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    when I was in the hospital for several weeks after my car accident and every day they took more blood because I was anemic and had blood issues. and then they had to give me blood (which made me way more squeemish than the taking of blood) the best day there was the day I realized that I could say no thank you, you can’t take my blood today, go away. Actually I believe what I said (being all hopped up on narcotics at the time and pissed because they only come at 5 am) I hate you, go away, you can’t find my vein, you are a moron, find someone else, maybe if you stopped taking my blood I wouldn’t be f’ing anemic, so no blood today.

  5. December 3, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    when I was in the hospital for several weeks after my car accident and every day they took more blood because I was anemic and had blood issues. and then they had to give me blood (which made me way more squeemish than the taking of blood) the best day there was the day I realized that I could say no thank you, you can’t take my blood today, go away. Actually I believe what I said (being all hopped up on narcotics at the time and pissed because they only come at 5 am) I hate you, go away, you can’t find my vein, you are a moron, find someone else, maybe if you stopped taking my blood I wouldn’t be f’ing anemic, so no blood today.

  6. December 4, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Sadly enough, this made me LOL… a lot. I feel for you girl, I really do, but again you sound like me. I refuse, absolutely refuse, to look at the needle as they are sticking me like a pin cushion. Usually at the same time I either sing the peanut butter and jelly song or say the ABCs backwards to distract myself, in my head of course. Otherwise they would think I am a whack job.

    Lately, my PCP has been making me come in to do labs every 4 weeks because my liver enzymes are up. Um, hello? That would be because I’m fat, nimrod. Whatever, I still go because the last thing I need is to go in for a biopsy or whatever. My bariatric surgeon rolled his eyes when I let him know, because he is aware of how she is.

    Anyway, just letting you know, that I know, how you feel. :)

  7. anon
    December 4, 2007 at 9:19 am

    haha, Becca made me spit out my diet Coke. I so would have weighed myself before and after.

  8. Amy
    December 4, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    I developed hypothyroidism when I was about 14 or 15 (ah, to gain 50 pounds out of nowhere during those crucial, awkward teenage years), and I have had to have blood drawn–about 2 to 4 vials)–every six months since then. I don’t even flinch anymore, though I was so scared at first. My arms both look like I’m a heroin addict from all of the puncture scars of being pricked. Haha.

    I hope your test results come out well! :)

  9. December 4, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    I have to bribe myself with promises of new shoes or DVDs in order to get myself to go. Word of warning: if you’re thinking about having any plastic surgery done they’ll make you do the blood tests all over again.

    I have a problem remembering to take all of my supplements too. I hate the Flintstones and their shit-tasting chalky-ass vitamins.

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