Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Torture and Hope

(*Disclaimer: I am in no way equating this to what someone who has actually been tortured has gone through, but it's as close as I've ever come in my life thus far. Also, sorry this is long with no pictures.)

Let me start this out by saying that I am incredibly needle-phobic, to the point where I would rather deal with the pain of my dentist drilling a tooth with just the topical numbing gel than get the shot to numb half my mouth. I've largely gotten over getting vaccines, because it's in the arm (i.e. not terribly sensitive) and because I'm at an age where I only need the occasional booster, not to mention just how small the needles are. I also get incredibly nauseous when people touch my wrists and the crook of my elbows.

Put these together, and you may understand my complete and utter aversion to getting blood drawn. Add to that an aversion to seeing my own blood (although I have absolutely no problem patching up someone else, provided the cut isn't near their wrist), my propensity to faint when getting a blood draw after fasting, my tiny, hard to find veins, and sluggish blood, and you may start to understand why I considered the three hour glucose tolerance test a torture session.

My OBGYN told me I needed an early glucose test (at 15 weeks, because I'm overweight) and once the results were in, I was told I was right on the cusp of too high (130) and that I would need to take this three hour glucose tolerance test at a lab to make sure I do not have gestational diabetes (GD). When I asked what the symptoms were, because I felt just fine, I was told most women don't have any symptoms. After asking what exactly was involved, I concluded that it was going to be a torture session and asked if it was possible to skip the test. I was then told that if I did skip it, they would assume I had GD and treat me accordingly, which would involve daily finger pricks. I was unhappy about it, but scheduled the appointment online for a Saturday so I could save some sick leave at work. Since they had a 10:30 appointment, which meant getting to sleep in at least a little, I took it.

In the three days leading up to the appointment, I was supposed to eat a balanced diet and then fast for eight hours prior to the procedure, which meant no food or drinks including water. I was as mentally prepared as I could be, only to be told up arrival that their online scheduling system is screwed up and they can't do a 3 hour test at 10:30 on a Saturday, because they close at noon. No where on the website was there a warning or even their opening times. My husband and I were pissed, but I rescheduled the appointment for yesterday morning at 8:15am (that was the latest appointment slot they still had left).

So again, I do my best to eat a balanced diet the three days before the appointment, and then start my fast at midnight. We get there right on time at 8:15am only to be told that my doctor's office ordered a 1-hour glucose test, instead of the 3-hour one, as well as a panel of other tests that I never discussed with them. I immediately called my doctor's office and they said they would send a fax to the lab to change the order to the 3-hour test. Two and a half hours later, after several calls to my doctor's office, we finally figured out that they'd sent an electronic fax and the lab was waiting for a regular fax. They found the fax in their computer system and finally brought me back for the fasting blood draw (to determine my blood sugar baseline). The lady who drew my blood for that one was really competent, she didn't feel around for a vein for long, and was able to actually find the one viable vein in the crook of my elbow. But it still took a while for the one vial to fill up.

Then they made me swallow down the sugar crap on an empty stomach. My stomach was not happy, but I managed to keep it down. My hubby and I played a game of Cribbage while we waited and read our books. I could now also drink some water, which I did in small sips. The second blood draw was a nightmare. Not only couldn't the second nurse find a vein on my left hand, which I wanted to try first, she then kind of lifted up the needle while it was inside the back of my hand to try and get more blood to flow into the vial. That hurt a lot and didn't seem to make the blood flow any faster. She finally gave up, with only a partial vial full, that she wasn't even sure would be enough to test. Then, instead of letting me get back to the waiting room for another hour, she proceeds to feel around in my elbow for a vein to use for the next blood draw. This was completely unnecessary and only served to make me so nauseous that I had to excuse myself as soon as I got back to the waiting room to throw up. My hubby found me as I was trying to clean myself up and told me that they had to cancel the rest of the test. I had a good cry on his shoulder and then he drove me back home, fed me pizza, and let me nap. The only good thing about the whole thing was that the lab got the number of my doctor's office to tell them I would not be able to successfully complete the test in the future due to my lack of viable veins and my inability to keep down the sugar water.

Later that same day, hubby and I drove out to Annapolis to tour a midwifery center that had come highly recommended by a coworker. I couldn't drive because my right hand hurt like crazy every time I moved it the slightest bit and was tender to the touch from my wrist to halfway to my fingers. We got there, initially had trouble finding the place, because it's in the center of a large hospital complex, and then were told that the tour and interview was scheduled for the 15th. Someone had made a scheduling error on their part, because I had two separate emails that said that my tour and interview would be on the 9th and my first appointment was to be on the 15th. So they ended up giving us the tour and doing the interview anyway. The midwife who showed us around was incredibly nice and immediately put me at my ease. She showed us the delivery rooms and attached bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs. The only medical apparatus to be seen was a portable station that the NICU at the hospital insists they have on hand for emergencies. She also sat down and patiently answered our questions. One thing that made me even more furious about the 3-hour glucose test, was that when I told her about it, she not only questioned why they would even make me take an early 1-hour test since I have no history of diabetes in my family, but that their "too high" is 149 and my 130 was well within what they consider a normal range.

She told me about their policy of viewing birth as a natural process instead of a disease that needs to be cured, the fact that they have privileges at the attached hospital so the midwives will still be able to deliver the child even if there are complications or I change my mind about getting an epidural, and several other points that really appealed to me. It put me at ease with the idea of the delivery and gave me some hope that I might actually get through this. I was more than happy to fire my other doctors and transfer the rest of my pre-natal care to the center.

1 comment:

  1. what a farce you went through but all was well in the end, enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and I am sure all will be well