What do you think you are doing?!?!

You know it had to happen. Especially right after I had written about volunteering at a training school.

I was scheduled for a Prothrombin test today, so I dutifully appeared at the doctor’s office, filled out the form, and waited my turn. It wasn’t long before my name was called and I went into the examining area.

The first unusual thing to happen was when we reach the cubbyhole they have set aside for bloodwork, and the nurse grabs my left wrist, searching for my pulse.

“You aren’t going to be able to find it there,” I tell her. “Use my other arm.”

“Oh, I usually don’t have any problems,” the nurse says. Ut-oh. Attitude alert!

After a few moments she admits, my pulse is hard to find. “I have a shunt on that side of my body,” I said. “The pulse isn’t readable on my left side.”

My answer earned me a Why didn’t you tell me that? glare. The next thing was the blood pressure – that was also new – and then she pulled out the lancet for a Prothrombin test via finger stick.

By now I have already rolled up my sleeve. “The finger stick test doesn’t work on me,” I tell the nurse, but I’ve got a feeling about what will  happen next.


I’ve tried to use one of the home test machines, but my Hemocrit is so high that the machine just reads error code number 5. So they have to do the blood draw from my elbow joint.”

“Let’s try it anyway,” she says, and snaps my finger with the lancet. In a few moments my blood is transferred to the reader; it whirrs and clicks and reports ERROR CODE 5.

Another glare for me. And to make it even better, my sleeve is still rolled up. Yes ma’m, I’ve done this test before!

While it’s true that you have the medical knowledge, I’ve been fighting this illness all my life. I know my body. And I’m familiar with most of the diagnostic tests that I may have to have. Just take a moment to slow down and listen to what your patient (in this case, me!) is saying. We’re not just another sample, another form to be filled out, another person to get a medical history from.

We’ve figured out a lot about how to live with whatever we are fighting. And we’ll usually share what we know… if you just take a moment and ask.

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6 Responses to “What do you think you are doing?!?!”

  1. Awesome Mom Says:

    Moms of heart kids get the same thing. It is nice when you get someone that is willing to listen to you and acknowledges your expertise.

  2. kerripennington Says:

    I completely agree. When you say that your Hypoplastic child’s O2 stats generally stay in the 80’s and that is her norm, just listen and ask why. My daughter has been hospitalized twice (not our usual “heart” hospital) because medical professionals didn’t believe that her O2 levels could possibly be that low. We spent overnight in O2 tents trying to raise levels that will NEVER be “normal.”

  3. Lisa Says:

    Same experience here! My son’s O2 levels hang in the low to mid 80s. I have had to call for reinforcements even at the Children’s Hospital ER when the docs and nurses there insist on putting the mask on to get him up to ‘normal’. 80s IS normal. Our PC always calls back and says no O2 unless below 80.

    If they would just listen to us, moms and patients…..

    Maybe this is why so many CHD survivors or their parents go into the medical field.

  4. Vanessa Says:

    Okay, thats frustrating. I’m sorry you went through that. I bet she felt pretty stupid after that.

  5. Kelly Says:

    My God, I am so thankful you write this blog! I actually had a “tech” insist that she would get the blood out of my 11 month old son’s left arm. I kindly and repeatedly assured her that the right was much better as his veins in the left were funky since the coarctation repair. She viewed my dialog as a challenge and I was to NEW at this to insist. Bottom line…she ended up fishing for a vein….until I said enough is enough. I’m learning! Thanks for making us feel less alone!

  6. Laura Albovias Says:

    THIS is the story you need to tell the nursing students. The most important thing social workers/counselors learn is TO LISTEN. You may think you have the answer, but the patient ALSO has some insight. The “professional” wastes a lot of time and materials by not listening.

    I get so frustrated when I’m with a Dr. and before I even finish describing my problem, they’ve written out the prescription. It’s not exclusive to the CHD population.

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