Monday, May 15


Hoo boy. What scares me most about this particular experience is that the main offender works not for a fast food chain, but a medical lab. Biohazardous fluids are a far cry from French fries, tu sais?

Today was the grand occasion of my glucose tolerance test (GTT.) For the uninitiated, this involves forcing a pregnant woman to chug a high-sugar beverage (one brand name is Glucola) and then checking her blood sugar an hour later. I knew from my first pregnancy that I kinda like the taste of Glucola (orange flavor) so I wasn't worried about much other than sitting in the waiting room with my 2-year-old for an hour.

Little did I know . . .

I arrived at the independent lab at 10:15 a.m., paperwork in hand. I signed in, and waited 20 minutes before my name was even called to check in. When I presented the desk clerk with my paperwork, she said, "These forms are for Quest Diagnostics. This is LABCORP."

"I got this address from the Quest website," I informed her. She shook her head. "No, this is a different COMPANY."

"That may be," I said, "but is there some type of affiliateship? I only know this place is HERE because I checked the website. I even looked up locations that administer the GTT specifically."

"Ma'am," she snapped, "this is NOT Quest." I met her eyes evenly. "Is there a Quest location on this street, then?" I knew the answer would be no, and it was. Before I could progress to asking her to check the website herself, she grumbled, "I can call your doctor and have the order transferred here."

"Great!" I said brightly, with faux enthusiasm. I took my seat again and waited. As I monitored the volume on said 2-year-old's LeapPad to ensure Tigger's woo-hoo-hoo-hoo did not become too raucous, the desk clerk called out again, "Megan? Did you have anything to eat today?"

"Yes," I told her.

"Yes? You did?" she repeated disapprovingly. (Some doctors prefer fasting for the tests, while some do not.)

"Yes," I repeated, "I called my ob's office to che--"

"I just need a simple YES or NO," she cut me off. I just gave you one, you twit, I thought. (This is approximately the time when Evil Meg's Internal Monologue begins.)

More waiting. Tick-tock. Finally, at 11:10, nearly an hour after I arrived, I was called back by a lab tech. I entered a back room, and she asked me to sit in the blood collection chair. "Uh, don't we do that after I drink the Glucola?" I asked.

She frowned. "Oh, wait, you're doing that?" she exclaimed, suddenly looking at the form. My eyes widened. Perhaps it's silly of me, but for some reason I would expect that before forcibly removing bodily fluids from an individual, a competent lab tech might actually read and see which fluids are expected, when, and for what purpose.

"Yeeees, that's why I'm here," I responded. She stared at the form for a minute. "Okay," she said, "I need a urine sample first."

Fine. 6 months pregnant, absolutely no problem. I took the cup and my kid and headed to the restroom. Where there was . . . no toilet paper. Naturally! Not like they collect urine samples here *cough cough*. I made do with paper towels and returned to the back room, sample in hand. She took it from me and placed it on the counter, then handed me the Glucola bottle.

As she wrote something on the form and I began to chug (mmm, refreshing!) she pointed to Aurora, who had seated herself in a chair opposite me, and asked, "Is that a boy or a girl?" That? "She's a girl," I responded. "Hence the pink." (Forgive me-- my child was wearing gender-ambiguous jeans, but she did have a Pepto-Bismol colored sweatshirt AND pink shoes. I apologize for passing on hair growth-deficient genes. My husband had hair. I was bald until kindergarten. Or something.)

"How old is she?"

"She's two."

"Oh," replied the tech. Then she opened her mouth in a jaw-breaking yawn, so I could see her fillings. As I finished the Glucola, she did that three more times, the last couple of times groaning as she did so. How utterly professional!

When I had finished the drink, she said, "Okay, come back here in an hour, don't eat or drink anything in the meantime."

"I won't," I replied, and relocated to the waiting room.

While waiting, I overheard something that is best described as "customer disservice." It didn't affect me, but I sure wouldn't have stood for it-- it was way out of the league of misunderstanding "no mayo." It involved a little boy younger than Aurora, probably close to 2. He was playing in the waiting room with his brothers and parents, and was called back for a blood draw. Everyone in the office could hear his cries, presumably as the blood draw commenced or became imminent. After a minute, the tech (a man) barked, "Oh stop it, I've hardly touched you." Stop it? Like, stop crying, you stupid little scared toddler unreasonably afraid of the stranger with a needle? I could hardly believe my ears. In a moment the boy's cries became blood-curdling shrieks, at which time a door slammed, the shrieks became slightly more muffled, and the tech's voice boomed again, "Knock it off, you're FINE."

The boy returned with his mom, sniffling, a minute later. I think the entire laboratory should be duly contented that they were not drawing blood from my child with that attitude. My blood pressure was soaring from Mama Bear-by-proxy!

But my tech, though less obnoxious, was apparently not much more experienced or efficient. At 12:15 I returned to her lair for the blood draw. She said, "Sit down." I sat in the chair. She smiled at Aurora. "Is she your first?"

"Yup," I replied.

"That's nice." She turned back to the paperwork on the desk. "Oh, wait, first I need some urine."

I said, "Again?"

"Again?" she repeated. "Did you give me some already?"

My eyebrows raised. "Yes," I informed her, "as soon as I got here." She peered down at her notes. "Oh. Well, I need another one."

I asked, "You can't use the first one?"

She said, "I could have . . . but I threw it away."

"You threw it away?"

"Yeah." Silence.

Frustrated, I said, "Sure, fine. Give me the cup." She handed me another one, and I trekked yet again to the toilet paperless bathroom with toddler in tow, then back to the room with the tech. She accepted the sample and asked me to sit down again. While she readied the vials and needle, she asked, "How old is she?"

She had asked that an hour ago, but I was just another patient in the sea, so I replied again, "Two." She said, "Oh, is she your first?" I blinked. She had asked that only a few minutes before. They let this woman come at people with needles? I was kind of creeped out. "Yeah," I replied.

"Oh, that's nice." Doo-dee-doo-doo. Cue Rod Serling.

She took my blood, and that was that. I left the lab at 12:15, two hours after arriving. Now I have to trust that all went well, and the right blood and pee will be sent to the right place for interpretation, and come back to the right doctor with the right results. In the meantime, I may write a little note to LabCorp suggesting they perhaps interview their candidates a little more carefully.

And if my tests come back showing an elevated prostate-specific antigen level, we'll know who to blame.


At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Stephanie said...

Wowsa, wowsa! Talk about incompetent lab techs there! You handled it better than I would've. I wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut. I would've had diarrhea of the mouth lol. Good luck with this pregnancy and I hope you get the right test results back. btw, Can you give me another urine sample? lol j/k

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh. my. goodness. how do you not start either laughing or crying uncontrollably?

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Rebekah said...

My husband wondered if you'd gotten someone like the guy in Memento. Yikes.


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