The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Down with OGTT

The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

Overall, not a bad procedure, except for the getting up early, and all the needles.

I got to the lab bright and early at 8:15 am. They made sure I knew I was going to be there for the next two hours. I'd brought my laptop, my Nintendo DS, something to read...I was ready!

The lab tech stuck me with one of the big needles. They usually use the butterfly ones because my veins are impossible -- but she got it on the first try! I was impressed! She took 3 vials of blood and said she was going to do a quick check of my fasting glucose. (I hadn't eaten anything since the night before.)

She stuck her head back in and said she was going to call the doctor and find out if they still wanted to do the test based on the result she just got. The nurse said to go for it.

The lab tech asked me if I wanted some ice in my drink, and I figured if she was offering it, she knew better than I did that it would help, so I said okay.

Sure enough that drink was GHASTLY sweet. Imagine a styrofoam coffee cup of red Hawaiian Punch, with another half cup of sugar added just for good measure. On an empty stomach, first thing in the morning, it was a little tough to get it all down. The tech told me I had to drink it all in 10 minutes, but I did it in 5. She started the timer and I sat in the waiting room for the next hour.

There's a lot of characters that you see come through the lab when you have nothing better to do. I'm sure I violated more than one person's HIPAA rights by listening in. Lots of routine blood draws, some people had other doctors or labs to go see after they stopped there. One of the lab techs was having a miserable day, and I'm glad she wasn't the one I was working with. Not only did she twice almost not get someone to provide a urine specimen before they left, she also finished up on a lady before she realized she needed to draw three vials, not two! So she had to stick her again! Ugh!

Hour 1 went by and she called me in to draw blood from my other arm. I warned her that I had already had an IV in two places on that arm within the last week, so she might have to look around for which one she wanted to use. She picked the big blue vein and got it with the butterfly. Back to the waiting room for Hour 2.

I learned how those little vials work. They puncture your vein with a hollow needle that has another open end. The rubber cap of the collection vial is pierced by the back end of the needle. Each vial has a vacuum in it, and once the seal is broken the vacuum in the tube creates suction to draw the blood. Some vials have less vacuum in them, and those will draw less blood (the volume being determined by what the blood draw is going to test.) Each vial may also have some additive in it that mixes with the blood, depending on the lab that does the testing and what the test is for.

I had wireless internet access in the lab area, and that's where I wrote "Recovery, Part 3." (I'm a little behind at the moment! Sorry!)

Another hour went by and I sat back in the chair for the last draw. The lab tech went back to the first arm and tried the big needle again. This time it didn't work. I was pretty disappointed because she had done so well so far! She took out the butterfly for this arm and tried Big Blue. Except this time she hit a nerve! OWWWW! When she was finished, it hurt so much I couldn't even put much pressure on it to stop the bleeding. Consequently, I have a lovely bruise there now...

Before I left I asked the tech if she knew anything from what she had taken so far, and she said no, they have to send the vials out to the lab, but the results usually come back the next day. She said the only one they do there is the initial fasting blood glucose level. She said mine was 97. ("Normal" is about 80-100.)

The next day the doctors office called me at 7:45 AM. From what I remember about the conversation with the nurse, my results were NORMAL, and they would just see me in another 8 weeks for my TSH/T4/etc thyroid panel. So no metformin is necessary. I guess I'm ovulating on my own!

Lastly, I realized I had, in the last week, had my veins punctured 7 times. I feel like a pincushion and look like a junkie.

Small price to pay, in the end, we hope.

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