A quick jab and a slow sit

CannulaSo, the day I arrives for my glucagon stimulation test. “This test may make you nauseous” said the advance material and “you will be required to submit for blood samples over a 3 hour period”. My own reading had unearthed the fact that I would be receiving an intramuscular injection.

So I turn up at LTHT as required at 0900 to be greeted by two very friendly, but unfortunately difficult to understand, nurses. Once I got used to the Japanese, or was it Chinese, accent of one of them she was extremely empathic and we had a good time together for the next 3 hours. However, I really do wonder about this question of accents. This is not the first time that I have come across somebody I found difficult to understand during this particular journey, not because their English was not up to scratch, but because they retained a very strong accent.

Anyway, back to the test. After an initial abortive attempt to find a space for a cannula on my left hand we finally managed to get one into the right. The left one still hurts, a few days later, I felt at the time the attempt was a bit clumsy and there is clearly a bit of subcutaneous bruising. Hardly a major issue but non the less. Half a dozen assorted tubes of blood later I am ready for my injection into my upper arm. If anything caused me anxiety (and on a scale of 1 to 10 it was only up to about 3), it was the prospect of a small injection into my upper arm. I have not had one for probably over 40 years and of course it turned out to be utterly painless. So I went to hang around for 3 hours.

It was a good job I took a book to read because I simply sat around in the open reception area to be called every half hour for another tube of blood to be taken.  The first attempt was a bit of a challenge and I was concerned that they would have to find somewhere else to put the cannula, but a little bit of massage, dangling my hands down by my side, pressure on exactly the right spot on the vein leads the blood to flow. OK, go away and come back in another half hour…

Go away and come back again in another half hour was repeated a further 5 times and then I was free to go.

Just one more observation on keeping the patient informed. After my first blood has been taken a large syringe was filled with clear substance ready to be injected back into my hand. No explanation although once I asked there was no problem explaining that this was to flush the cannula out and avoid any clotting. Very sensible, but why not explain it to the patient before doing it?

And how about a better explanation of what the test is actually testing? This briefing note from The Christie seems perfectly adequate.

So now we wait for the test results. I have an appointment on 2nd September and so far as I am aware they should have all the information necessary for the MDT and that meeting on the 2nd September ought to be able to find a way forward. Although everytime a phone number from Leeds appears on my phone I wonder whether I’ve been being called in early.

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