Friday, March 14, 2014

So Wednesday was Weird

I wrote this on Thursday but couldn't get the pictures uploaded till today.
I tried to go through and fix it but continuity may be a little funky.

And so the Adult Crisis continues; I went to see a doctor yesterday for the headaches and ear popping that has been coming off and on since right before Mark and I got married. I left the appointment with a prescription for allergy medicine and the charge of a "strict soft diet" to see if it helps the TMJ. I couldn't help grinning as I walked out to my car dreaming of all the mashed potatoes and ice cream I'm gunna eat.
I also understand that at the end of the week I'll be pining for a slice of pizza and some nice peanut brittle.
But in the meantime, I'm going to really enjoy this "soft food diet". We went to the store and bought soups and yogurt (and pudding because yum) and berries to go in the yogurt and taters.
Although I'm not sure how I walked out of a doctor's appointment complaining that I have "headaches and ear popping" and got a nasal spray that has a side effect of "headaches" out of it...
The appointment was an interesting adventure in and of itself. When I initially made the appointment they said it was for 2 o'clock and there was no need to show up early. Okey dokey, fine with me. A few days prior to the appointment I got an automated voice message reminder but the robot lady said it was for 2:30. I panicked for a moment, wondering whether the nurse I had spoken to on the phone told me to show up at 2 because that was "early" for the real appointment at 2:30 or if there had been a mistake and I was supposed to only show up at 2:30. Then I realized early is never a bad thing so I didn't care and went with 2.
They had super fancy tablet things to sign in and fill out all the new patient information with but they were encased in these huge plastic covers in bright orange. It felt rather like an etch-a-sketch a la Dr. Seuss.
As I was documenting my medical history suddenly I heard a familiar tune and my eyes darted to the hanging tv up in the corner of the office lobby to find this lovely sight:

Not just Disney, old Disney! 
But it was just Homeward Bound 2, which is probably better anyway so I would finish my "paper"work.
They called me to the back and I spent the next ten minutes going over everything I had just filled out on the Seuss etch-a-sketch and totally forgot to mention that I did have an ear surgery as a child because I got ear infections a lot. Which, considering what I was there for, is probably pertinent to the situation. But instead my brain made sure to bring up my tonsillectomy as a baby and my bunion surgery from a few years ago.
The nurse left before I recalled the ear procedure however, so for the next ten minutes until the doctor came in I agonized over how to correct my mistake and not come off as a complete dunce.
Unfortunately I'm 80% socially awkward and 0% problem solver so I just sat there in nervous silence waiting for him to look in my ears, see the scars, and berate me for not mentioning the surgery.
True to the life of a socially awkward penguin, he didn't mention it.
The doctor was an interesting fellow. Almost eccentric. He had crazy curly, frizzy black hair streaked with gray, his eyes were a little buggy and bore into my soul every time I made eye contact. Probably right about as tall as me and a tad portly but very friendly and comfortable. He also had a green highlighter in the breast pocket of his lab coat and it had bled through the corner making a large, neon green stain.
I think I made more eye contact with the stain.
I told him about my symptoms and he looked at me like I was saying I heard the voice of the dead telling me to drink cactus juice for the rest of my life. There also could have been a lemur on my head. Hard to say.
He took me off to another doctor to get a hearing test.
In their words, my hearing is "perfect".
Which is awkward considering I probably ask, "what?" more often than any other human. But the booth of isolation and doom doesn't lie so whatever. My ears are perfect. Nbd.
I had a sweet moment with the hearing test doctor when she asked about hearing problems in my family and I told her that I was adopted at birth so I have no idea as to my biological family history and she smiled and said, "So that's why they gave you such a beautiful name. That's wonderful."

After I blew the hearing test out of the water, they stuck me in another examination room and the doctor did some more poking and prodding. He kept putting his fingers at my temples and asking me to open and shut my mouth. Then he would smirk and I felt really self-conscious. He asked, 
"Did you know that your mouth opens at a slant? Have you ever noticed?"
Yes, because obviously I sit in front of the mirror and watch how my mouth opens. 
But I just nervously laughed and told him I hadn't noticed. 
So apparently I'm a slack-jawed, sharp eared manbeast and my nose is infested with allergies judging by the docs reaction when he took a gander.
Then abruptly I was quickly ushered out of the office and I crossed my fingers that I wasn't supposed to have a document in hand for prescriptions or anything because I had already said goodbye and stepped out the door. Socially Awkward Penguin law dictates that as the point of no return.
I went home, direly wishing for a nap but we had a blood donation appointment at 6 and we still needed to go grocery shopping. We went to pick up my prescription because Walgreens called (which is good because I hadn't been given any instructions on that, thanks Walgreens!) and then braved the depths of Walmart just after 5 o'clock on a wednesday. It wasn't too bad actually. Except for there was a scary, grizzly looking guy strutting in front of the garden center with his mullet mane of stringy gray hair and patchy beard sporting a blue tee that said, "What's your O-face?" and I felt pretty grimy after that experience.
We quickly took our perishables home and then headed over to the vampire's lair United Blood Services office on Gilbert. We had eaten steak for lunch so thankfully my iron count was high enough. Randomly about a year after I had started donating I began having issues keeping my iron high enough. Not to mention we were both doing Power Red (as long as I'm fat and meet the weight minimum I might as well) so the iron requirement is higher than normal Whole Blood donations. The nurse led me out and sat me on the side of the room that had CNN playing on the tv with Piers Morgan interviewing Bill Nye on the disappeared airplane and it was fascinating. And then I guess the machine was broken so they moved me to the other side where some stupid fix-and-flip home remodeling show was playing. 
She played with my arms, trying to find the best vein candidate and I couldn't tell any difference. I'm totally fine with needles, I love donating blood, but there is a moment right after they stick ya when I get this dull ache at the injection site that generally makes me begin to feel nauseous. That's the part that makes me anxious for the prick. 
It got started alright and I was doing fine. Until my thumb started tingling. With Power Red, it draws out the blood and then, in intervals, shoots the plasma back into your body. They wrap one of those blood pressure arm bands on ya and when it's taking blood, the band squeezes and when you're receiving plasma back, it is loose. They always give you a bit of PVC pipe to squeeze on while you're donating to help with blood flow (I guess, I dunno, I don't have a medical degree) and the nurse said the easiest way to remember is, "When it [the arm band] squeezes, you squeeze."
During the first blood draw, I was squeezing the pipe in 3-5 second intervals as suggested and suddenly I realized my thumb was tingling like it was falling asleep. This was my first time donating Power Red and I tried to not think much of it, but it got uncomfortable and I figured better to ask than to remain silent and find out later that I should have spoken up. I mentioned my thumb was tingling and the nurse just kind of laughed it off. 
It quickly spread through the rest of my fingers and then slowly crawled up the length of my arm until I was legitimately having a difficult time continuing to squeeze the pipe because I could hardly feel my hand. My fingers felt like great wads of wet rubber (wet because I was clammy and sweaty). But I didn't say anything and just made weird faces at Mark. Or, I guess they were weird because his reactions were bizarre.
Every once in awhile, the tube transferring the blood would start weirdly vibrating. It wasn't necessarily painful but was not particularly pleasant either. I asked the nurse when she was nearby what that was and she offhandedly told me that was caused by pressure buildup in the vein and lifted off the gauze covering the injection site to show my vein (or what just looked like a small lump in my skin to me) being squished and contracted.

So now we know to ask questions after the whole donation process is finished because that little bit of knowledge sparked an absurd amount of anxiety every time it started vibrating.
The band suddenly loosened as I finally started my first plasma return and almost immediately the tingling, numb sensation evaporated from my arm. Such sweet relief. As the plasma entered my arm I began to feel that cool sensation I've always heard about. By the time it's being returned, the plasma has been cooled to room temperature and obviously our bodies are warmer than that. That was actually not bad at all and mildly pleasant. The only weird bit was the buzzing tingling sensations transferred to my lips...but then she warned that if I felt "burning, stinging, or stabbing sensations" (some other scary word that I don't remember) I should let her know immediately
Which is the perfect thing to say to get an anxious brain to imagine all kinds of burning and/or stinging. But I never had to call her over so that was alright. I guess. Maybe I'm poisoned and my arm will randomly snap off today. Who knows?
After the unfortunately short plasma return was finished and it began drawing blood again everything went swiftly downhill. The vibrations/buzzing came back in full swing and every two minutes the pump would shut down and beep some kind of error that the nurses had to come reset. The buzzing was worrying me as it became pretty constant and an older nurse stepped over and asked if I was alright. I told her what was happening and she gave a much more comprehensive explanation that the feeling was from the needle getting suctioned to the wall of my vein. Like putting the tip of the vacuum sleeve up to your palm, or cheek.
Which somehow made me feel better to have an adequate, understandable description of what was happening and also completely nauseous to picture it in my head.
So she rotated the needle just slightly and that basically fixed the problem.
But the beeping continued. On and on until I sat there for almost a full minute with the monitor beeping because the two nurses that were nearby were sticking other people and couldn't come reset me and I felt so high maintenance and like such a nuisance. 
After that a couple of the nurses were fiddling around and discussing what was happening and I didn't catch or comprehend a word of it except for "purging". 
Something like, "If it keeps purging, blah blah blah..."
And I don't know how you feel about the word "purge" or "purging" but it is not a happy word. And it's especially not a happy word when being associated with a sharp needle stuck into your vein and maybe I'll be in massive amounts of pain at any second or bleeding profusely all over everything or even worse, puking. I hate vomiting. Mostly in public. If I'm holed up in the bathroom of my own home, then fine whatever, get it over with. But the donation clinic was full of people and I did not wish to be sick in front of them all.
Good news; I didn't vomit at any point. But that's not the point.
I also never found out what "purging" meant or was referring to but it thoroughly freaked me out.
So while my arm is throwing a major tantrum and refusing to cooperate no matter how diligently I follow all the nurses instructions, Mark is sitting straight across from me, cool as a cucumber and filling up his bag nice and neat as you please.

I had been out on the donation floor way before him but he finished quicker than I did. When they started wrapping his session up and took the needle out of his arm he smirked at me on his way to the "cantina" area. Always so competitive. He told me later that the nurses kept referring to me as "beeper".
But I persevered and finally I had filled up the entire bag worth of blood and they unhooked me and a couple of the nurses were very kind and nicely teased me so I didn't feel like they were just annoyed that I was so troublesome.
All in all, it was a weird day. But at least I ended up with a couple big stickers by the end of it.
And free snacks.


Left: Drawing blood

Right: Plasma Return

During the transition between blood and plasma. You can see where the red color is lighter because it's been diluted with the returning plasma.

Bodies are weird.

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