The clinic I went to is up in Paddington, near the "Little Venice" section. My suspicion is this area could be terribly cute but for some reason a large section has received a Canary Wharf charm reduction makeover. I got to see more of it than they intended, for even though they provided extensive instructions AND a map WITH a path on it, I still went the wrong way and wound up asking a postman for directions. (It said "the first bridge on your right," not "go right and look for the first bridge.) So I showed up a bit late and a bit frazzled, and hungry as hell. Even though I'd slept late and tried to keep my energy use down, nothing was telling my stomach that it was supposed to not be hungry, and I was feeling a bit weak and icky from lack of food.
Well, after getting weighed and having my height taken (they've said I'm 5'7" enough that I'm thinking it's time to change my official height after 20 years of 5'6") and failing to execute on the urine sample (just not hydrated enough), the nurse took my blood pressure a few times and looked over my stats. My average from the 24 hour thing I did two months or so ago was 135/88, and my blood pressure today was 132/90. She said the diastolic reading is a bit high but neither seemed like much to worry about, though she did advise me to reduce salt in my diet (not really sure how, she suspects restaurant food). She told me I'd be off for an ECG afterwards, then went to find another nurse who'd take my blood as I'd requested they do it from my hand instead of from my elbow, as that had worked better the last time I'd had a blood sample done. It was now about 11:15 and I was HONGRAY but still in good spirits.
I went to Fiona's room and she noted how tiny the veins in my elbow area were and made a bit of a joke about my rumbling stomach. She got the needle in my left hand, but things weren't going well; I just wasn't pumping it out. She finally left to get a syringe to draw it out and had me hold the needle in place while she left. My hand looked revolting, all swollen and distorted from the needle in it. She came back and hooked up the syringe, but it was too late; my vein had run away from the nasty needle and was nowhere to be found. This meant it would be on to the next hand.
Unfortunately, around this time I noticed I was starting to get pins and needles in my hands and a bit in my head. This is, I've found, my first warning sign of passing out. (Next sign: it gets dark.) She had me do deep breathing and then lower my head to my knees. I glanced over and saw the vials of dark, dark blood and just started .... kind of flashing back to something bad involving a lot of blood that happened about three years back. I noticed tears were streaming down my face and wetting my hands, and I began to apologize to the nurse for being such a baby. She told me not to worry, I wasn't going to fall over, she was right there, and asked if I'd talked to anyone about this thing that had traumatized me so. I said I had but apparently it still upset me, but I hadn't realized that blood would be a trigger, and I apologized for wasting time and letting the blood coagulate (which she said wouldn't happen soon enough to mess the samples up). (On the other hand, I've very studiously avoided looking at blood since then and can't even stand to look at people's arms if they've obviously been cutting themselves - same reaction as I get with watching people eat shrimp these days, just ... don't like it.) When my hands stopped tingling I asked her to please just get on with it as I really wanted to eat my breakfast and not have to come back and do it all over again. So she did, and used a smaller needle (and a syringe) and it was done in about two minutes, or so I thought.
Then I dropped my head again because I felt shitty and weak and emotional and not good at all. I had my little yogurt drink I'd bought the night before and sat some more, then asked where the clinic was I was supposed to go and that I hoped the fresh air and sunshine would help clear my head. She asked if I was alright, told me it was fine to sit and wait some more, then told me the women at the front would give me directions. And they did, but it was all a blur and I don't even know how I remembered the name of the building they said I needed to go to. What a mess.
So there I was, lost again, wandering around near the canals, wanting really badly not to cry and feeling weak and icky. And then I realized I had nothing too pressing to do, and I could cry if I want to, so I sat down on a bench near the canal and let it out for a while, hoping I wasn't freaking out the people walking by. After I settled for a bit I tried calling J, but he was not to be found, though fortunately W was and he was very nice to me as he understood what I was freaking out about and didn't lecture me the least little bit about being a baby and crying over nothing.
Somehow I managed to find the proper building, though I had to backtrack twice, and was in just a few minutes stripped to the waist and covered with little plastic circles hooked up to a something or another. I got a record of it, but I don't know what any of it means: QRS = 84 ms, QT/QTcB = 368/408 ms, RR/PP = 814/810 MS ... P/QRS/T = 65/84/32 degrees. A total mystery. THe only thing I understand is the bit that says "normal sinus rhythm and normal ECG on the side, plus "HR 74 bmp" is most assuredly heart rate 74 beats per minute. Anyone have any idea what these readings mean? I can provide more of them if you can.
Uh. So I stumbled out and headed toward the station, debating going back to work. Going to the gym now seemed an utter joke; all I wanted to do was lay down and I was an emotional wreck. I imagined myself sitting at my desk bursting into tears and decided to screw it and called in. My boss sounded a little surprised but said things would be okay. I went to Paddington and caught a District Line train to Wimbledon in short order, remembring on the way that I had Oreos with me (because the freaking bus-side ad campaign wore me down, I was taking them into work with me) and ate about six in short order, then read Something Rotten for a while.
I can't tell you how happy I was to be going home. I heated up my penne alla Norma (which I had been planning to eat at work), polished it off in short order, then got J on the phone and started crying again. What a wreck. After that I went to bed and got in about two hours of nothingness on a lovely, sunny day.
Anyway, now it's almost 5:30 and I am still in my pajamas and J is on his way home, and I'm hungry again. I had a chocolate to console myself for not getting to see the Biggest Box of Chocolates Ever and some really nice green tea, and I'm going to still see the show I was planning on seeing at 8 PM because I need some cheering up. But now I'm going to make more food - spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce, I think. And, er, I think I'll be changing out of the pajamas.