Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blood Tests

When my husband and I started talking about getting pregnant the first time, I was, of course, excited, but also somewhat apprehensive like most people. The biggest drawback for me wasn't labor since I didn't really know what that would be like. It was the knowledge that there would be blood tests, an IV, an epidural (my low pain tolerance supercedes my fear of needles), and possibly other ways in which the medical professionals would find to wield their pointy little objects of torture at me.

I know no one likes having blood drawn. I mean, I've heard people say they don't mind it, but that's as close as it gets to enjoying it. But I would say I have a higher than average aversion to it. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being people who actually watch the procedure and think "Cool!", and 10 being people who get hysterical and pass out, I'm about an 8.5. I've never actually passed out, but I have had my vision turn into a black tunnel and narrow down to about a two-inch circle, until they laid me down and gave me some juice. I don't like needles in general, but a blood draw is the paramount. That said, here's a list of 10 things I'd rather do than have my blood taken:

10. Get a filling at the dentist.
9. Work overtime.
8. Be stuck in a plane on the runway for an hour. (Did I mention I'm somewhat claustrophobic?)
7. Have an annual well-woman exam.
6. Be a bridesmaid who has to wear a hideous dress with shoes that give me blisters for the whole day and evening.
5. Be woken up by my toddler every two hours in the night.
4. The day after aforementioned sleepless night, be forced to watch "Ben-Hur" and "Lawrence of Arabia" back to back and not be able to sleep during them.
3. Clean all 3 three of our bathrooms.
2. Deal with a mouse that's been caught in a trap. And isn't dead, yet.
1. Get a tetanus shot.

Because of this, when I failed my glucose test with the first pregnancy and then had to do the three hour test where they took my blood, not just once, but FOUR TIMES in one day, I was determined to pass with this second pregnancy. Unfortunately, things were a little crazy in our household this spring and summer, so I was a little distracted and didn't manage to monitor my food intake to the degree I knew it would require to ensure passing the test. So I prepared myself for the inevitable call letting me know I'd failed. What I didn't expect was to find out that in addition to my glucose being high, I had a low platelet count. The nurse just mentioned it in passing and said they'd check it again with the three hour test, so I didn't think too much of it at the time. But when they called with the final glucose results, I found out I passed the three hour test again, just like with the first pregnancy, but my platelet count was still down, so they wanted me to see a hematologist. This was a bit disconcerting.

Disconcerting? Ok, let's be honest, I was having a pregnant/hormonal/emotional day, and freaked myself out to the point that I had to walk out of the office to the parking lot where I bawled like a baby on the phone to one of my closest friends. Thoughts were flying through my head, "Platelets? Quick think - what do those do? Something with clotting I think. I already know I have to have a C-section - I'm going to hemorrhage and die on the operating table! We haven't finished our wills - I have to make sure to get that done ASAP. I'll never get to meet our sweet baby girl! I'll miss seeing our toddler grow up! What a burden this will be on my poor husband..." Oh, good grief! The funny thing about having these kinds of nutty moments that can happen during pregnancy and postpartum, is that sometimes you have a surreal out-of-body experience where you can see yourself saying or thinking all of these things and think, "Why are you being such an idiot?", but you can't stop yourself from doing it either.

After I had my outburst and my friend helped calm me down, I pulled myself together, went back inside to work, and finished out the day. By the time I got home and told my husband, I was able to do so calmly. I know he appreciated my forethought in having my breakdown with a girlfriend instead of him - he's dealt with his fair share of these hormone-induced, crazy tirades. This week I went to the hematologist and found out that low platelets are not uncommon during pregnancy. They need to be monitored, but rarely end up being cause for much concern. Oh, ok. Whew.

Wait a minute... monitored... meaning more blood tests? Oh, brother...

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