A visit to my specialist

Last week I visited my specialist. I see him twice a year for check-ups. Before each visit I email him to ask which bloods I should have. He emails me back with lists like “Let’s do:

FBC, U&E, LIVER FUNCTION, THYROID FUNCTION INCLUDING T3 AND T4”. So I go to the path lab before or after work and do that. That’s about a week before to be sure he’ll get the results on time for my consultation. Because I like to know the results. It’s been nearly 26 years, but I still like to know. Then I can relax for a while.

I still hate needles. But I have had to go for bloods my entire life. My 15-year-old self would be impressed that I now schedule these events myself and subject myself to the needle. I still cannot watch the gruesome process, however. It’s not the blood. Blood fascinates me. It’s the sharp object entering my flesh. I told my blood-drawer about it this last time and he confided in me that he can’t watch people taking his blood either.

After a lifetime of blood tests, by the time I was 15 I had become so phobic about needles that I would cry and cry when I had to have bloods taken. My mother told me that I would need to have them taken all my life so I needed to manage it. So I analysed the process and broke it down into its component stages. Back then I was going every three months and every visit I managed another step in the process. What ruined the last step, where I would have been able to watch my paediatrician actually stick the needle in my arm, was that my paediatrician went on leave for the only time in all the years I went to him. He brought in a locum who had no idea about how to work with children and our small blood vessels. He hurt me so badly that I looked as if my arm had been run over by a car. When I told my paediatrician what had happened he assured me that that man would never come back again.

So now I can watch most of the process and then avert my eyes as they jab in the needle. The path lab is fairly close to my house and the consulting rooms are almost as near, which makes me feel better about it all. Sometimes waiting for the results makes me more anxious, other times less so. This depends on how I am generally feeling and, as I keep my phones on silent and don’t return calls I would probably miss a call about my results if anything important came up.

When I see my specialist I always ask him how the results were and he always says “perfect”. If I am feeling anxious I grill him about what exactly they were so I can decide if they actually were perfect. They have been stable for 22 years now, but things can always change. One time I interrogated him about whether or not he would tell me if something was going wrong. He told me that he would and, although he has never lied to me in the 10 years I have been consulting him, I still didn’t believe him. He is a very patient man. And I am a very persistent patient.

Last week my results were perfect again and I was once again relieved. I have booked my next appointment for March. The receptionist doesn’t have her 2018 diary yet, but I am in there already.



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