Alright, this post will be a bit of a rant so I’m warning all of y’all to buckle up. Next week, I’m schedule for my bi-yearly visit to my endocrinologist where we examine my state of existence as it relates to Diabetes and how I’m managing. For the most part, I tend to make things pretty boring for my doctor, with level blood test results and a blood glucose log that you could easily cross-country ski on. My last visit, which was back in September, wasn’t as good as previous ones by virtue of having come off of CGM. This was mainly the fault of my insurance company, which put a cap on how much they would cover and I couldn’t see clear to pay the hundreds of dollars each month for them, myself. But I digress…
My point is that for the first time, my A1C’s were off, my blood sugar results weren’t as pretty as usual and I had some ‘splainin’ to do. I always find it hilarious when a doctor picks out one random bad reading off my blood log and asks, “What happened here?” Dude, I have difficulty remembering what I had for breakfast YESTERDAY… You really think I remember why I may have suffered a high or a low at that particular time? And that’s the caveat, that these appointments usually require a bunch of steps on my part prior to showing up. These steps including getting extensive blood work where I’ve been fasting for 10 hours or more as well as uploading my insulin pump to a database, which always seems to be an issue (apparently because I use an MacBook).
One of the biggest issues with visiting my endocrinologist is the need fr scheduled blood work. This blood work needs to be collected no later than 10 days before the appointment but I’ve had instances where I’ve gotten it two full weeks prior and been told that the results were too old. So not only do I have to time it as closely to 10 days as possible, I can’t really get a leg up and do it earlier. Fun times. If you haven’t guess, this post is a rant against getting my blood work done. Like I said, buckle up.
In order to understand my frustrations, we need to go all the way back to the early 80’s, when Diabetes treatment was a joke (at least in my home town) and they still operated on babies without anesthesia because they thought infants felt no pain. Yeah… THAT decade! Anyway, any time I needed blood work, it would always require showing up at the hospital first thing in the morning. There were no other times to get it done. No appointments and no “save my spot.” You needed to show up, get registered and sit and wait. Here’s the clincher: you’d rarely ever wait more than 15 minutes.
Fast forward to February 25, 2022. I was slated to go to a local blood collecting lab, which seems to be the only way to have your blood work done in Regina unless you’re actually admitted in the hospital. And it’s not that this is a new thing. Even just ten years ago, I would STILL go to the hospital to get blood work done in New Brunswick. So, I don’t know what the problem is out here, but I digress… I woke up in the low 3’s, so there was no way in hell I could keep fasting and make it through the inevitable long wait at the blood collection lab.
I bolused with some fast-acting carbs but the damage was done; I had broken my fast and my test results would be tainted. I also felt like a freight truck hit me, so I ended up calling in sick for work. It wasn’t a great day and when i had my levels up, I fell back asleep and surprised myself by waking up past 11 am. I can’t remember the last time that happened and it only happened because my blood sugars bottomed out. Brutal. Anyway, my chances of getting my blood work done was out the window and I faced a unique problem. If I waited until Monday to get the blood work, I would be below the 10-day requirement.
That wouldn’t be a lot but I know it would be enough to elicit comment, especially if the lab didn’t have enough time to analyze the results. Luckily, we live in the modern era and I was able to check online and discover that my closest blood lab was open on Saturdays. Score! It also opened at 7:30 and was open until 3 pm. Bonus! I wouldn’t have to get there at the butt crack of dawn and wait in line in the cold with everyone else in the city who were rushing to get their blood work done. Or so I thought… getting it done on Saturday also meant that it would be over ten days to my appointment but not so long before as to elicit comment. Alright, let’s do this…
Given that it was Saturday morning, I apparently thought it was a good idea not to set an alarm, the night before.I awoke just after 8 am and my first instinct was to grab a can of energy drink and go sit on the couch to enjoy some weekend silence before everyone woke up. But as I made my way to the fridge, some post-sleep clarity kicked in and I remembered my blood work. I grabbed the requisition form, jumped into some clothes and bolted out the door. Everyone was still asleep.
I got to the blood lab and noted that there were two people in line outside the door. This wasn’t as bad as compared to other days but as I stepped out of my car, I noted that a few people were walking towards the line as well. I didn’t want to make a scene by running ahead of anyone, so I continued at a normal pace, which resulted in having four people ahead of me outside instead of two. It was only -16 degrees before the wind factor, which was a lucky thing. Had it been in the -30’s before the windchill, there’d be no human way in hell I’d be standing in line outside.
The time was 8:46 am, which is important to note. Some chairs in the waiting room were empty, which made me wonder why some of us were waiting outside. There were no restriction notices on the door, nor any explanation around why we were made to wait outside like pack animals instead of inside the warm lobby. By the time I got inside the lobby, it was about 9:20 am. Some of the people who got in ahead of me overheard one of the technicians saying it would be at least an hour’s wait. At least four people stood up and indicated they were leaving as they didn’t have an hour to wait. I felt this thinned out the herd and made it so that I cold potentially get through faster. I was wrong.
My name was finally called at about 9:40, almost an hour after I first stood in line. The only consistent part of their process was the truth behind the hour-long wait. Despite being caffeine-free and on an empty stomach, I was surprisingly patient. maybe it was the perspective of seeing everyone else getting angry, frustrated and making a scene, that helped me to recognize how I sometimes tend to fly off the handle. I was ushered into a stall and asked to remove my coat.
Once I was seated, I was still made to wait for fifteen more minutes before a technician came over and mechanically asked for my name and date of birth, followed by drawing the blood and dropping a container in my hands to collect a urine sample. I went and peed in the little cup and walked out of the blood lab at about 10:05 am, ironically right at the moment when my wife asked me what my ETA was. I could sense the tension in the room as I walked out and couldn’t help but feel that there’s got to be a way for this process to be moved along faster.
That first gulp of caffeine went down smooth, like the very nectar of life was infusing my body with the ability to face the day, despite the first couple of hours having elapsed already. I don’t work as a lab technician and I don’t collect blood samples for a living so I can’t put myself in their shoes. But from the outside perspective looking in, it seems to the common person that this process can see that there should be something done to make the process smoother and quicker. The only saving grace is that my next appointment will likely be in September and waiting outside won’t be such a big deal. Small favours… ☯️