Monday, June 08, 2009

Lab Rat in Medical Maze

My friend Laszlo was kind enough to assist me with getting the lab work I needed to have done prior to surgery, so we met at 10:00 this morning to beat the rush. Appointments are unheard of, so imagine this scene. There is a pack of starving dogs, though regardless of their hunger, the alpha dog order biological trait is still ingrained in their nature. Suddenly, without warning, a fat juicy steak appears. Inherent instincts be damned, they all charge for the meat fighting off competitors with all means possible. When we arrive at the hospital, we have to return to the doctor's office to get the referrals for labs. Why he could not give them to me when I went the first time is anybody's guess. Outside the office is long bench, reminiscent of the bench outside of the principal's office in my elementary school. Sitting in order of our arrival, we are fourth in line. People are chummy and chatting amicably. Then the ominous music starts playing in our heads, something is about to happen...the door suddenly opens with the nurse making her first appearance of the morning. Vroom, the four waiting without any warning turns into a mob of twenty and the nurse is attacked from all sides deciphering all claims of "I was here first". An hour and half later, we get to see the doctor who really does not need to see me at all, but the nurse has to fill in empty fields on the computer to print out a half dozen pages or lab requests. The other nurse gives me to test tubes to fill with bodily fluids that need returning to some other place. I am told not to touch the tops of either. First task, find a men's room to carry out the task, but the one I find is a fraction the size of an airline toilet. Alone, I am trying to juggle two tubes, one with a blue cap, another cap less. Twisting the blue top does not produce any results, but pulling it off does, allowing the powder inside to fill the air like fairy dust. Opps! Logic led me to filling the capped one first, capping it and sticking it in my pocket while filling the second. This worked fine until I was finished and then tried to get myself back together in a presentable fashion. I had my shirt hanging out, so left my fly open until the tubes where turned in, to surreptitiously finish my project. Next was getting my blood drawn. For this we had to go to a different building, a block down the street. Waiting fifteen minutes was not a major problem, but when she started pulling out tubes with different color caps, I started worrying. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, and Grey. Was she drawing blood for labs or devising new torture for the rainbow aficionados? Seven tubes did not satisfy her, she still needed to prick my finger for yet a few more drops of life sustenance. After all of this, she handed me two of the tubes, with cap colors that I would never have chosen given the chance, to bring to yet another lab to be left for analysis. From here, we had to find the EKG lab, another thirty minute wait. It has been years since I have had one, so was confused when the tech put these large hair clip type things on my ankles and arms, but the gooey, sticky juice on my chest with leech like sucking devices. She told Laszlo that the results looked good. It seems all of those times I thought I was having a heart attack was just anxiety. The pile of papers the doctor's nurse gave us was finally dwindling down, but there was more fun and games to follow. Off to radiology for a chest x-ray with thirty more minutes of waiting, fifteen more to make sure the film was a good one, and we were good to go to the next test. I had to have a nose swab. We had to find the ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) doctors. As the clock was approaching 12:00, too bad, they are closed now until 2:00, so we went for lunch. By 1:45, we were back and in line, not that it mattered much, but we missed their calling my name three times. They pronounced it Yam-mesh (James) Ree-on (Ryan). Neither one of us caught it, but a lovely young woman sitting next to us happened to see my paperwork and drew our attention to the fact. I was able to see a female doctor who has a certificate in English on her wall showing she was honored by the Lion's Club as a Lioness of Distinction within the Pride for her work with the deaf and blind.

After poking in my nose with expanding tweezers spreading each nostril to look like Carl Malden's appendage, she took a cotton swab that had to be a foot long and mined inside each hole until my brain started tickling. My throat was easy, but the ears, oh the ears, now here is a problem. She asked if I wanted my ears cleaned while I was there. Sure, an added service is like getting your car serviced and being asked if you want a free wash and wax while you are there.

The nurse took me to a sink, where she filled a syringe the circumference of a cola bottle with warm water and shot it in my ear. I thought for sure I would spout water out of my mouth like a fountain. She held a tray catching the debris that flushed out, which was kind of funny, since it did sound in my head like a sink draining. The sounds Laszlo was making were not pretty, arousing my curiosity. It seems my ears were as dirty as an archeological dig site. What came out looked like a non-filtered super long cigarillo.

Four hours later, we were finished with our medical adventure. I have to return in two days to get my blood test results, but all of the others will go directly to the doctor. Why I have to carry around bring my EKG report and retrieve the blood labs myself is a mystery that will go unexplained. Once this is accomplished, it is back to the doctor’s office to schedule an appointment for surgery. The life of an ex-pat is never filled with dull moments or experiences.

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