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Saturday, 16 January 2016

Reasons why Fran's crossword isn't finished

I went for a blood test on Wednesday at my local hospital's Phlebotomy clinic. I've been before, and learned my lesson, having had to wait up to an hour. This is so annoying, but more so when you've not taken a book with you/had a cup of tea/had a wee. You dare not leave the department for any of these reasons in case you miss the test. You're trapped, without hope of release, like wind in a sluggish colon. All there is to do is to look at other bored people. You're wondering what happened in Chapter 4, you have a tongue as dry as cardboard, and your bladder's like a sausage on a high heat and ready to pop.

The Phlebotomy department system is that you take a ticket with a number on as you arrive. It's the same kind of ticket that you get at the meat counter queue at a supermarket, and that in itself doesn't bode well when you're awaiting a blood test. 

So, prepared for a long haul on Wednesday, I went prepared with a crossword puzzle book, a copy of The Tempest which I'm teaching, and a novel.

I took my ticket - number 137 - thankfully not 666 or I'd have been out of there, bugger high cholesterol - and at exactly the same moment, a disembodied voice said, 'Number 137. Please come to door No 2.'

My spine went 'tingle tingle'. It was like an episode from 'And Then There Were None'. I'd barely grabbed the ticket, and there it was, the voice of God calling me to my fate. 

Already? What about my crossword puzzle?! 

... but won't give you time to get the answer to 4 Down 


I pushed open door Number 2. 

'The age of miracles is not dead,' I said to the young medic as I sat down and rolled up my sleeve. 'I was hoping to do my crossword.'

'We've got targets now,' he said. 'We're not allowed to have more than three people waiting.'

He was a fast worker, I'll admit. No sooner had I exposed the inside of my elbow than he'd swabbed it, jabbed in a needle (I notice they say 'a little scratch' these days and not 'a little prick') and taken fourteen pints of blood. 

He slapped a piece of cotton wool the size of a sheep on my little scratch, taped it to my arm and said, 'Press hard on that.'

'I don't need that,' I said. 'I'm not a bleeder. Never have been.'

'Press hard on that,' he said, like a robot, quoting Section 3 Sub-section 4.3 Sub-sub-section 99.6 of the Health & Safety Precaution Against Haemorrhage Necessitating Attendance by Emergency Team Who Have Other Things to Do Regulations.



It reminded me of when my milkman husband rang me at the hospital the day I was being induced to give birth to my third child. 'Is it safe for me to go on my round?' he said.

'Yeah,' I said. 'It'll be hours yet. Go ahead.'

Twenty minutes later, I'd delivered the baby, while he was still delivering milk to the nice people of Richmond in South West London. Two hours after that, he turned up at the birthing room. 

'Say hello to your new daughter, Mr Hill,' said the midwife. She looked down at his bag. In it was Monopoly, Scrabble, and Ludo, which he'd thoughtfully packed to get me through the long labour. 

'You won't be needing those,' she said to him. 'I've never seen such a fast birth. I didn't even have time to get my gloves on.'

'That baby came out so fast,' she said to her friends that evening, 'it was like being shot at.'










17 comments:

  1. Haha! I don't know which is funnier - the blood test or the birthing experience. Hospitals are indeed fascinating places aren't they? Well worth an ogle while in the waiting room. I should know! I seem to spend a fair bit of time in them these days. Funny funny post :)

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    1. For me, personally, the blood test was the funnier experience, bearing in mind one was just a little scratch, and the other was like having a high-speed train, forty feet wide, tunnelling through my innards.

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  2. Great post, Fran! I learned my lesson a few hospital appointments ago and now I always take a good book with me, and usually I'm glad of it. In fact I once donated a copy of my novel to a hospital waiting room in the hope that it would save the day for a bored patient (or perhaps be confiscated by a nurse).

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  3. It pays to be ready for the long haul and then be pleasantly surprised when it all goes quickly.

    Granted, this sort of attitude gets me to destinations way, way earlier than I need to be there (but I have to assume I am going to run into incidents on the road!).

    Always bring a book.

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    1. I'm the same - always there with loads of time to spare. For me, as I don't drive, I have to assume the bus will be held up.

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  4. I've learned to take a puzzle book along for such appointments, it's the fastest method I know of getting seen withing two minutes. A book to read has the opposite effect I've found. I get stuck into it and ten chapters later I'm nodding off and hear my name being called as if from a distance and have to stumble, yawning, through the appointment. Which is rather handy when at the dentist, things don't seem so painful when I'm half asleep.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean! You go into a kind of 'waiting-room fog' which is like another zone altogether. So true.

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  5. Lovely post.
    I'm not a bleeder either, but I am a fainter. (Low bloodpressure, not squeamishness.)

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    1. I used to be a fainter, too, but I think my blood pressure has climbed a little over the years ... That's teaching for you. And maybe cake. And wine.

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  6. I've been in and out so fast for blood tests I give the car parking ticket to someone else !

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    1. And I bet they love you for it, as I know the parking costs are extortionate.

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  7. I go along once a year. The last time I turned up, the nurse informed me that our surgery had won the bid to do blood tests. Apparently they were up against Virgin and Asda!

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  8. Spent most of Tuesday with take a number and wait HERE at the taxman. And our books ...

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    1. Someone else who likes to take the life-blood from us all ...

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  9. Of a nervous disposition , I need to pack some literary Calpol when I go for blood tests . Takashi Hiraide's cat book worked well last time . Just admiring the cover was Zen-like ...

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