Thursday, February 02, 2006

Drawing blood

Remember that ambiguous sounding letter from Health Services Australia I received before Christmas? And remember how I finally received word (it was verbal then) that I was ok? Well, I've finally received the official letter from them:

We have received your papers from the Department of Health and in accordance with policy, your pre-migration chest x-ray has been further reviewed by our chest physician and found to show an old scar. However, it shows no evidence of active Tuberculosis (TB). (their bold)

*Phew* I can cough without being self-conscious again.

That did get me wondering where the scar on my lung came from. I've since concluded it probably was due to my bout of pneumonia when I was 14. That was my only serious bout of illness for the last 20 years or so.

Funny thing about the pneumonia was, I don't recall feeling much discomfort from the illness itself. What I do only remember vividly is my hospital stay at NUH that was made very uncomfortable and irksome by the "doctors".

There seemed to be a steady stream of "doctors" examining me everyday. I didn't really know what was happening then. What a hassle, I thought. I didn't realise until some time later that these "doctors" were actually medical students or housemen.

It was always the same thing, they would come, ask to examine me and start doing that knock knock thing on my chest and abdomen. Then they will come upon a spot (always the same spot) where the sound is noticeably different, remark to each other and scribble excitedly into their little notepads. Where there was a group of them, this cycle would be repeated a few times consecutively. With the excitement part repeated as well.

But what took the cake in terms of irritation happened in one particular night. It should be around 11p.m. and I had already fallen asleep. I felt someone tap my shoulder lightly. It was a nurse.

"We need to draw some blood from you... er... for tests."

"Oh... ok."

I rubbed my eyes to get myself awake. That was when I noticed the entourage behind the nurse. There were three young "doctors" with some heavy duty looking equipment. She turned to them and said,

"Ok, all yours,"

and stood aside.

One of the "doctors" took my right arm and started placing pieces of some kind of adsorbant paper around it, leaving only the elbow area open. That done, he took out three bottles of something, dabbed cottons from all three and started cleaning (I think) the area where he was going to draw my blood from. I remember thinking in my half stupor,

“這麽誇張?Draw blood only mah...”

Finally, he is done with the preparations and takes out the syringe. It was a HUGE one. I remember wondering why so much blood was needed for tests. Anyway, he inserted the needle gingerly and started moving it around under my skin. I tried hard not to show any signs of pain, but hell it was PAINFUL!

"I can't find the vein."

"Try again."


So he withdrew the needle, redid the dabbing and cleaning routine, and reinserted the needle a little further "down river". Again, he can't find the vein. And again, he admits to it audibly.

"Let me try," said another of the "doctors".

Same result.

Eventually, all three "doctors" had their go, and still my vein proved elusive. All this while, the nurse standing next to them had gotten increasingly impatient, tapping her feet as she took in the whole debacle. Finally, she cannot stand it anymore.

"Hai yeah, let me do it lah."


and they stood sheepishly aside.

The nurse didn't even bother with the dabbing routine. One prick and she found it. Not much pain too. It was over in a flash. I thought that was the end of that. But no.

The "doctors" produced three other larger jars containing some clear liquid. The nurse then released roughly a third of what had been drawn from me into each.

"Ok, you guys can keep this for your own specimen."

Then they left. If I wasn't just 14 then, I would have really made a lot of noise about such treatment. But I didn't.

And that is not the end of this little tale. There is a short epilogue to this!

The next morning, another light tap on my shoulder. Another nurse.

"Need to draw blood. For tests," she says curtly.


I looked around. No entourage. No heavy equipment. Only one piece of cotton on one hand and a much smaller sized syringe on the other. This looks safe, I told myself. It was. One dab, one jab, one draw and it was all over. What's more, I believe that was the real deal; It really was for tests.

57 days to go.


Blogger ChroniclesofChaos said...

I know how I would describe myself now, on my character when I was young. Precocious (Translation: Annoying little brat).

I had bad asthema when young. So much so that I had learnt not to be afraid of docs and nurses.

Each time someone attempts to draw blood from me, I would withdraw my arm and ask them if their names was on my chart.

If not, I would then ask them how many years experience they had in this hospital and if they were interns or housemen or an idiot.

If they said yes to any of the above, I would refuse to let them draw blood.

I maintain the same standards today, each time they had to draw blood or insert an IV line, I would grill them till kingdom come before I would agree or disagree.

To show that I'm impartial, I do the same with nurses.

Reason for this now, is that I have a friend, whose mom was a head nurse and is now a trainer or something. I have learnt that it is possible for veins within your arm to die if it is used too many times and worse if they do it incorrectly.

Thu Feb 02, 06:10:00 pm 2006  
Blogger Acey Deucey said...

Oh gosh, I grieve belatedly the death of my veins 16-17 years ago.

Thu Feb 02, 06:26:00 pm 2006  

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