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Monday, February 4, 2013

Mayo Clinic - Day One. Bloodwork & Barium Swallow

I woke up bright and early this morning around 5am - and by woke up, I mean, just stayed awake. I got up and made it to Mayo for my 6:30am blood draw.

The doctor wanted to check my CORTISOL LEVELS as well as do a complete blood panel - CBC, liver enzymes, etc.

When I walked in, I checked in at the desk in the front after reporting to Davis Building 1 East. I gave them my name and birthday. Then, I sat in a waiting room with five doors. Each door had a lab tech come to it and call people back. It was very efficient. This is what I saw in the waiting room.

The lab tech called my name. She was a small, Asian lady who was extremely nice. She sat me down in the blood drawing chair that we're all familiar with. She looked at my arms and applied the tourniquet. She thumped my veins a few times, clucking and telling me that I didn't have anything to really work with. I've been REALLY dehydrated but yesterday, I sucked down about half a case of Dasani with Pedalyte powder to hydrate myself. It wasn't enough. She went into the first vein and got a bit of blood out for the tube for the CBC, but almost let the tube clot because she didn't shake it slowly back and forth the way I was taught to do in high school. Mrs. Gray would be proud to know that I still remember how to do that. And, she kept digging the needle in and out of the vein, which resulted in that vein blowing. That was in my upper right arm.

Next, she tried my left hand. She pulled the needle back too suddenly while trying to change vials and blew that vein too. Then, she tried my upper left arm. That was probably the worst vein blow I've ever felt. It still hurts. She managed to blow that one pretty good without even really getting a good blood return in the butterfly needle that she used. The Mayo Clinic doesn't put bandaids on the site. Instead, the put gauze over it and then wrap it with gauze. After the tech blew another vein, she called a colleague over.

The other tech scanned my arms and I finally just presented my wrist to her. She told me that she didn't like to use the wrists because they were usually painful places. At this point, I knew my wrist would work and told her that I was used to it because that was the go to place for my doctor. She listened to me, got a butterfly and got blood on the first try. Instead of messing up the site by switching vials, she didn't want to lose the vein so she took blood into two syringes. She then took the syringes and put them into each different tube for the blood panel. After that, I was free to make my way upstairs to Radiology.

This is my left arm:

This is the blown vein in my right arm but it doesn't hurt nearly as badly as my left arm:

I then left the lab to go to the Mayo building and find Mayo 2 South for Radiology.

I checked in at the desk, noticing that they had a policy that you can't check in more than 30 minutes ahead of your appointment.

The waiting area was closed off.

After I checked it, I was told to go through the double doors and down the hallway until I got to the substation waiting area. I was at another, smaller check in area. The nurse gave me a bag and a dressing gown. The dressing gowns are new, so she had to give me a demonstration on how to wear them. They have three arm holes. You put the tag in the back and put your arm through the two holes, and then you wrap the gown around you, putting your arm through the final hole. There were no ties or anything like that. I had a seat in another waiting room, waiting room B. Unfortunately, it was packed so I wasn't able to take a picture. I didn't want to violate anyone's privacy.

After sitting there for about ten minutes, a tech called my name along with three others. He walked us down the hall and swung a left. He led us to an even smaller waiting room and told us that the techs would come and call us soon. I sat in the cramped waiting room. An older man was kind enough to move over on the bench so that I would have a place to sit. They called about three people before it was my turn.

The tech took me back to this cold room and told me to have a seat and that the doctor would be with me shortly. My appointment was at 7:45am and I noticed it was 8:18am while I was waiting for the doctor. I will say that Mayo is very efficient and the staff I have encountered so far has been extremely nice.

The x-ray tech was pouring barium into a cup and also placed a cup of water next to that. When I saw the barium I was a bit scared. The x-rays I've had in the past, I was always told to drink two big things of barium before I took pictures. However, this test was different. I had an emesis bag, just in case. It's better to be safe than sorry and I tend to vomit up barium.

The doctor came and and then the test was started. I took in this enclosed space, with the x-ray machine in front of me and the screen to the right of me. I could see my skeleton and organs in the screen. It was extremely neat! The doctor gave me the cup of barium and told me to take three big gulps. As I did, he took screen shots at the screen to my right so that I could see what was happening. I got to watch myself swallow the barium, which distracted me from how uneasy my stomach was becoming.

He then told me to turn facing left, facing the wall. I drank a few more gulps of barium as he took pictures. The doctor told me to stand with my back against the wall of the machine. Then, the x-ray machine I was halfway inside, standing in, started to rotate and I was on my back. I was told to lay on my stomach (which is hard for me to do because it makes me even more ill) and was told to cross my left leg over my right, making a triangle. I had my right arm down by my side and my left arm up by my head holding the cup of barium with a straw. I had to drink it while the doctor took pictures that way, and he instructed me to turn on my left and right sides, also while taking pictures.

Then, I was instructed to lay on my back again and the machine started to straighten back up and I was standing again. The tech gave me a cup of water and a barium pill. The doctor instructed me to swallow the pill but it got stuck halfway down, like everything has been lately because my esophagus is burnt and swollen.

He said, "interesting."

He instructed me to drink more water and finally it went down as he was taking pictures. Then, he informed me that my test was done.

Honestly, that's the best barium test I've ever taken because I didn't have to down two huge things of barium. I barely had a cupful. And, that's all I really need. It's fighting to come back up, even now.

That was the end of day one at Mayo. Tomorrow, I get to look forward to the gastric emptying test at 8am. Four hours of pictures after I eat radioactive eggs. That's the test that I'm scared of because if I get sick, I have to repeat it all over again.

I will try and take more pictures and let you know what I think of tomorrow.

As for today, I am very pleased with the treatment I received today. My only complaint is that I have one blown vein in my upper left arm that really hurts. She blew it good. It's going to bruise something horrible. I just hope for my scope that they'll be able to find an IV site. I'm going to be chugging Pedalyte from here until Wednesday. I hope it hydrates me enough for that.

Other than the blown veins, everyone here has been extremely nice and helpful. My wait times weren't long at all. I am very happy that I didn't have to swallow more barium than needed and the doctors here are truly the best at what they do. However, they don't just treat me like a diagnosis, they treat me like a person. I really do appreciate that.

The lab tech this morning told her colleague that I was a fantastic patient because I didn't flinch once while they were poking me. =)

1 comment:

Will Moss said...

Kick ass. Day one down. Barium, huh? Having never had to do that, I imagine a thick, chalky stuff.