Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What A Difference A Year Makes

I had my yearly heart exam yesterday. You may recall that I was less than pleased with my experience last year. This year was entirely different.

The office I work with seems to have found their own echocardiogram technician and purchased more advanced equipment. This guy was quite good, and there was no discomfort. He never even asked me to hold my breath.

I also got to see my cardiologist right away instead of waiting a week. The verdict? My leaky valve is less leaky than before. We're not sure why, but we'll take it. Everything else is unchanged, and since that means we're not getting closer to the point where we'll have to do something dramatic (ie. valve replacement surgery) I'll take that as well. In short, it was a good visit.

But they did notice it's been six years since my last cholesterol test. Since I hadn't been fasting, they had me come back in this morning for a blood test. Ever since my bad experience with a first aid class, I've struggled with anxiety attacks whenever blood or surgery are discussed. Just thinking about the test this morning got me feeling a little light-headed last night.

But I was fine this morning--right up until the phlebotomist started getting out her equipment. My head started spinning, and even though I knew it was just anxiety I couldn't quite push it back into place. Katheryn, the phlebotomist, noticed right away and asked me if I was okay. I explained the situation and she went immediately to work putting me at ease.

She moved me into one of the exam rooms where I could lay down, and then talked me to through a relaxation exercise while she prepped and drew. She even used her infants needle, though I don't think the pain itself would have been a problem. As it was, she is quite good at her job, and it was relatively painless and over very quickly. I've had phlebotomists who had to go deep sea diving to find a vein, but not Katheryn. She got it first try and I hardly felt it.

Afterward she gave me some orange juice to help me shake it off. She assured me that I'm normal, and we all have our irrational fears to deal with. And she offered to be my phlebotomist regardless of who needs the work done. All things considered, I may take her up on it. She was good at her job, whether it be phlebotomy, bedside manner, or psychology.

Driving in to work afterward I noticed a slight tingling in the fingertips on the arm she'd drawn from. That was enough to launch me into another anxiety attack, and I nearly decided to pull over and park for awhile. But I decided to push through it and instead distracted myself. I was able to get to work just fine.

All done for another year.

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