Bloodless penguin – and more surgery hassles

September 24, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 3 Comments
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I mentioned to the facilities manager as I left work this morning that I was off for a blood test. When I saw him later he asked, ‘So did they manage to confirm you had blood then?’ Well – actually it was a bit of a struggle! The first attempt to prove I had blood was a dismal failure – in went the needle, out came … nothing. The rhuemy nurse waggled the needle about – nothing happened … except that it hurt … she waggled it about some more … OUCH! We mutually agreed that perhaps trying another spot would be better. It wasn’t. Hmm … I’d walked in rapidly and everything, the blood should have been flowing … but perhaps the problem was that it had all rushed to my head a moment before! 

‘Why would it do that?’ I hear you cry. Because she’d just told me that the system of monthly blood tests was changing – in fact it was going. The new guidelines from the hospital are that we only need three-monthly blood tests done by the rheumy nurse. Well OK … that’s fine by me… but here’s the rub. 

At the moment I go in for my blood test, have a chat about my arthritis and general health, query anything that’s bothering me rhuemy-wise (usually not a lot, ’cause I’m lucky most of the time!) and book the next appointment. Now the appointment times are being reduced, so I will only see her every three months and have less time for a chat about how things are going because she will have less time per patient, even though she’s not seen us for three months. On top of that – she can no longer book the next appointment – because, mind-bogglingly, ‘the system’ won’t allow booking three months ahead!

I do wonder how much this has to do with the computer system and how much it has to do with the fact that the further in advance appointments are booked, statistically the more patients are likely to fail to attend! So now, instead of a simple month-by-month process of blood tests and booking, I have to remember to do an extra thing – phone about three weeks before my next test is due and book it.

Well, that’s not so bad – after all it’s only three-monthly, isn’t it? I’m still spending less time than I was before attending monthly? Not so fast … I am also supposed to attend in the two intervening months for a 2.5 minute appointment with a phlebotomist, who will just have time to say ‘Hi’, take the blood and throw me out again – but on top of that, that won’t even be an appointment but a ‘walk in’. So if they’re not busy (hah, what are the chances of that, especially as I happen to know they’re short staffed) I could get seen straight away, but if they are busy I could be waiting who knows how long.

I told my nurse I would probably simply not bother attending the phlebotomy walk-ins and she said she thought I would not be alone – she’d heard the same from a number of patients! Of course you could say, and quite rightly, that we’re putting our own health at risk doing that and the service is there … but in six years I’ve never had a blood issue, and I do have a full-time job and I don’t have time to sit about for an hour waiting for a blood test, so … we’ll see.

Anyway, back to today’s blood test – when she scraped me off the ceiling and calmed me down and got the blood flowing round the body again, she was finally able to draw blood … which, I hope, will be fine as usual!

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3 Comments »

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  1. Oh, goodness. They never get blood on the first (or even usually the second) try with me. Glad they finally struck oil (as we say here in Texas). Your new scheduling situation sounds like a real Catch-22. Hopefully when you call for your appointment, you can get it when you need it. Please keep us posted.

  2. I sometimes run into the same issue making appointments, Penguin. I see my doc every three months. Sometimes I can make the next appt. just before I leave, but other times I’ve been told they can’t do it three months ahead (?!?) and I’ll have to call a month before I need to be seen. Go figure–I never know which to expect. I think it’s a symptom of trickle-down bureaucracy, myself. ;) Glad the phleb. finally found your blood supply, too. I bet you ended up with big ol’ bruises over the dry drills… Wishing you the best, m’dear… :)

  3. I am extremely lucky. Blood work is scheduled every 2 months at a time I choose to walk through the door. My doctor sees me every 6 months (and I book the next appointment as I leave) now thanks to the Humira controlling my RA so well. Of course, she says to call if I have an issue and can come right in. My visits with her are always at least 45 minutes long. She is thorough. This is my 3rd rheummy. She’s a keeper!

    I hope you find these new guidelines work for you going forward. Nice to meet you!


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