Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ex Post Facto

In the middle of June, I dropped into "Doc Holliday's" office to see what kind of condition my condition was in. As I reported earlier, all my vitals were apparently okay, save that my ferritin was up to 123, a figure that would not have stirred a muscle in my physician's countenance in years past, but since having a couple of run-ins with my sister, he gets a twitch in his left eye every time I come in for counselling on my hemochromatosis.

"Boy! 123! That seems a little high!" This from a fellow who once thought that 409 was not only a great car, but a swell ferritin count as well. "You probably ought to drop down to the Infusion Center and give them a pint."

Last week I did so, much to the delight of everyone in the building. They had a banner, a cake, and a few momentos for me as I swept into the office. "Oh! Doctor Beeblebrox! Please take Room #1! That's how we feel about you!"

There are six cubicles in the office, all of them numbered except one. #1 is not numbered. I headed toward the unnumbered cubicle a little hesitantly when the Angel of Mercilessness said, "Yes! That's it! It's how we feel about you!"

"Hummmm", I thought to myself. "So this is how it's going to be. I am the cypher of the week."

A few minutes later she breezed to my side with a rather green looking fellow. "Doctor Beeblebrox, this is Igor. He is learning how to perform phlebotomies. You don't mind if he watches what I am doing, do you?"

"No," I replied, "so long as he doesn't touch me."

"That's fine, then, because we don't let Igor touch any of the patients yet. He has a rash."

The phlebotomy went as expected. The usual amount of screaming, unconsciousness, and whimpering ensued, with only faint traces on the walls and curtains of the cubicle where the spray hit. The uniqueness of this session was in the running commentary for Igor's benefit, as AOM described in excruciating detail every step in the procedure. There were no surprises at all. I think that I was a little tense throughout.

The first procedure was to take my blood pressure. "117 over 76. Very good Zaphod! Pulse 88! Wow!" The excitement in the room was tangible. Just think. A little lysinapril makes everyone happy.

Then came the sting of stings. "Igor, we use a local anesthetic for two reasons. One, the stuff really stings a lot, and it is really fun to watch Doctor Beeblebrox's eyes dilate and bug out like they do when I give him the injection. Two, it does absolutely nothing to kill the pain in his arm when we stick the really big needle in. It just tickles me every time he passes out." I decided to pass out before she gave me the placebo.

When I came to, she was commenting to Igor about the metaphorical properties of the blood bag and various insects in the wild that feast on the warm-blooded critters in the forest. I thought that I could use another moment of unconscious quiet and promptly dozed off for a second time.

A few moments later, Igor was putting a cold can of root beer on my tray along with a package of Lorna Doones. Actually, he tried to give me two packages of Lorna Doones, I suppose to make up for the fact that he had not brought a cup of ice to go with the soda. The Angel of Mercilessness came to explain to Igor that after the phlebotomy it was necessary to take my vitals again.

"117 over 76! How extraordinary! Blood pressure.........."

"No, that can't right! Let's do it again..... 117 over 76. Okay..... Pulse..... 137!!!!?"

"Third time's the charm.......," she said, as she ramped up the equipment again.

I could not resist. "What's the problem?"

"Your pulse rate was 88 when you came in and it nearly doubled by the time we were done."

I said, "When I came in here I did not have a garden hose hooked up to my arm!"

"True, but your blood pressure did not go up. If you had been traumatized, your blood pressure would have gone through the roof, not your pulse rate," she said nervously.

"But you took a liter of blood! There is nothing to have under pressure! My heart is having to work overtime just to get any circulation at all!"

"Oh! That seems logical... Oh look!.....," she said, point to the vitals machine. "117 over 76, pulse 136..... Great! It's coming down!"

"Terrific!" I opined.

"Okay, then. If you can stand up without failing down, you can go home."

I did, but waited a week before going to see the lab-tick over at the Medical Center. I went in at noon today in order to have some blood drawn for the ferritin check. LT looked me over and decided to take my vitals. "Hummmmm! 117 over 76.... pulse 135!!!!!!!"

I said, "Don't worry about it. It's coming down."

She took the sample; I didn't flinch... a lot. Trillium was waiting for me in the foyer.

"That was quicker than a heartbeat," she said.

Yes, indeed.

No comments: