I had doctors’ appointments earlier in the week. Being old and all means I no longer need to subscribe to magazines but can catch up on my reading in one of any number of waiting rooms I find myself in (as long as I don’t mind that the magazines are "vintage," as am I come to think of it).
That meant last week, I needed to visit a local blood drawing site, twice, one fasting and the other slowing (or whatever medical people call it when you have eaten, perhaps ‘sated’).
Because my primary care physician organizes my team of specialists instead of getting bullied by them which happened with her predecessor for a number of years, I visit the blood site far less frequently (last year I went 24 separate times; I should have purchased stock in test tube manufacturers).
When I popped in during the late afternoon, I was the only client (insert your own “they had run out of patience/patients joke here __) and I zipped right in with a phlebotomist I’d not seen before, but it had been about four months or so since my last visit.
Sometimes I can watch myself careen out of control in a social intercourse situation, mindful that it is happening and that I am powerless to stop it. It feels like it’s a slow-motion underwater movie that's happening to someone else, somewhere else, except it isn't. If it’s a gift I’d certainly like to take it back to the store and pick out a sweater, even an ugly one.
The phlebotomist was considerably more than diligent in following procedures (I’m leaning towards ‘obsessive’ someone who is) and I fear that’s what encouraged my evil twin, Skippy, to become involved. It was already awkward, in terms of small talk, when I had to initial the labels on the test tubes after my blood had been drawn and was in them.
I’ve grown accustomed to scribbling my initials on labels while they’re all on the sheet before any of the drill goes on but as it turns out, this is how it is supposed to be done, sir. (bold letters suggest ‘we brook no discussion’ and we didn’t)
A few jokes about how the red of my blood seemed to bring out the blue in the black ink of my initials had no visible effect on the clinician. It was like playing to an oil painting. I can rise to a challenge like that and the urine sample was my opportunity. As a diabetic, I’m keenly aware of the specimen drill and find it to be within my envelope of competence.
Walking away from me at the drawing station to the far side of the room where she kept her supplies inventory the clinician held up the infamous “make sure the cap is on tightly” specimen container and asked me to fill it.
“From here?” I asked brightly, "how many chances do I get?" Had she been standing on a chair the joke would have still gone over her head. In hindsight, I think I may have actually said that out loud to her. It would explain her stony silence.
At that point I was willing to depart, nursing my wounded pride as a failed humorist but instead she and I circled the bridge, so to speak for another five minutes while she struggled to understand what I kept assuring her was nothing more than humor.
In the end, I left thinking the next wave of health care professionals is very different, if not downright strange, and she for her part probably arriving at the same conclusion about patients. Sadly, I fear we are both right.