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10/13/2008

Liveblogging this morning's two-hour glucose tolerance test

9:20: I arrive at the hospital.  The glass window in front of the receptionist is adorned with clear red Halloween motifs that are meant to look like spatters of blood.  Perhaps not the most reassuring choice for a phlebotomy lab.

9:28: "I'm Shaun," says the phlebotomist, "and I'll be taking your blood today.  [Pause.]  Well, not all your blood."  I assure him that it's okay; I brought extra just in case.

9:30: I push up my right sleeve and point to the sweet spot.  "Wow," says Shaun, "you know exactly where you should be stuck."  "It's a hobby," I tell him modestly.

9:32: Shaun brings in a bottle of orange Glucola.  "Hmm," he says, frowning, consulting his computer, "I have to go get more."  He returns with a dolly and a 55-gallon drum.

9:38: ECCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCH TASTE BUDS WITHERING GAH AGGGGGGGGGH UVULA SHRIVELING YECCCCCCCCCH BLAAAAAAAAACHH CONVULSIONS ECCCCCCHHHHHHHHHH ENTERING FUGUE STATE FNUGGGGGH

9:42: My jaw is locked in a rictus of disgust, preventing me from talking NASCAR with the other nice people in the waiting room.  It's too bad, as I'm eager to show that I too am on a first name basis with the greats of the sport.

9:57: Full-body shuddering begins to subside.  "Dale Sr. did great this weekend, huh?" I enthusiastically ask, eager to enter the conversation.  The NASCAR contingent falls silent.  But why?  Is there something stuck in my teeth?

10:03: I fill out the questionnaire titled GLUCOSE TOLERANCE INTERPRETATION SHEET.  "Are you ill or feeling badly today?" it asks.  "What have you eaten or drank since midnight?"  In fact I am feeling bitchily, provoked by the lingering awful aftertaste to correct the questionnaire's grammar.

10:08: I'm taken into a different phlebotomy room, presumably the one used for children.  It has an exam table fashioned to look like a school bus, a rack of colorful Disney stickers used for rewards, and half a dozen helium balloons floating cheerfully near the ceiling.  I tell the phlebotomist I'm scared.  I warn her I might cry, and ask if she'll hold my hand.  She doesn't find me funny.  I leave the room in disgrace without a sticky princess.

10:22: Feeling sleepy.  I wonder if the lady next to me would mind if I put my head in her lap.  Her velour sweatpants just look so soft.

10:23: Huh.  I guess she would mind.

10:39: Another draw.  The phlebotomist asks me how I feel.  "Finely!" I chirp.  When he makes a note on my questionnaire, I am sorry to see he does not quote me verbatim. 

10:50: There's a guy sitting here in the waiting room in a tank top and shorts.  I hate tank tops in public, just hate them.  Someone's skin is always all over the place, touching things.  And in his case, hair.  I send frantic telepathic messages his way: Please don't raise your arm.  Please don't raise your arm.

10:53: A phlebotomist calls tank top man's name.  To signal his presence, goddamnit, he raises his arm.

10:54: Aw, shit.  Tank top man gets up with great difficulty, and I see he has to use a cane to walk.  Now I feel bad — excuse me, badly — for not wanting to see his armpits.

11:01: Incredibly, my pancreas just dropped a wink at the American people.  Either it's feeling flirtatious or it has developed a nervous tic.

11:03: I visit the hospital's Health Education and Resources Center to ask whether a pancreas can develop Tourette's.  Strangely, I find no pamphlets on the subject.

11:11: Another draw.  Shaun asks me how I feel.  I say, "I feel a vague sense of foreboding and the onset of existential despair, Shaun, if you really want to know."  Turns out he didn't really want to know.

11:19: I wonder if nervously jiggling my foot will lower my blood sugar appreciably.  I jiggle so hard my shoe comes off, landing with an audible clunk.  I sheepishly creep out to the middle of the room to retrieve it.  "My shoe," I explain unnecessarily.

11:27: The guy sitting across from me is wearing a baseball cap in camouflage print.  If he were in the woods, that part of his head would blend in nicely.  The rest would not.  It would look like the top of his skull had been removed.  Marauding jackals would soon arrive to sup upon his exposed brain.  And jackals, I hear tell, do not like to be fooled.  They are a hungry, vengeful breed.

11:28: My dad told me once that before his diabetes was under control, he used to have really morbid dreams.  Odd...I wonder what made me think of that just now.

11:34: My pancreas is totally losing it.  It just referred to the islets of Langerhans as "my fellow prisoners."

11:42: "Let's not talk about our feelings anymore," Shaun suggests as I get in the chair again.  Since the room is windowless, discussing the weather is out, but there's always sports.  Shaun is a Red Sox fan.  He asks me if I am.  "No," I tell him, "I'm really more of a NASCAR man."

11:46: I am required to wait for the results of the last draw before I'm allowed to leave, lest my blood sugar be too low for me to drive safely.  Somehow I doubt that will be a problem.

12:05: It isn't.  After signing three (3) release forms and allowing a photocopy to be made of my driver's license, I'm permitted to see the results of my own bloodwork.  I am back, it seems, to my prepregnancy prediabetes.  My next GTT will be in a year.  I can't wait.  Maybe by then Shaun will have learned a little something about being emotionally available.

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