Bad Blood

I’ve been stabbed. With a needle. More times than I can count this month.

Okay, maybe ‘stab’ is a bit dramatic. I’ve been pricked, pricked good. I’m surprised I still have any blood left!

A couple weeks ago I found myself at a hospital doing what no one should ever be doing (in hospital or not). I Googled things like:
‘Can air bubbles in IV lines kill me?’
‘What does it mean when you see a bubble in an IV line?’

Yes, I could see myself spiraling. I often feel the panic meter steadily rise as I start to Google-search the most extreme of scenarios (usually in the realm of death).

Recently I found out, through a battery of tests, that I was very anemic. My iron levels were extremely low, so low that everyone (clinical professionals) who reviewed my results kept asking me questions like:
“You must be tired.”
“How are you feeling at this moment?”
“How did you feel yesterday?”
“Do you feel okay today?”

I’m sorry- you want to know if a mother trying to keep everything in her life afloat is tired? Who isn’t?! Amiright? My unflappable answer to their constant query was always the same: “I feel fine, why?” Most of them were taken aback that I was still standing, coherent, and telling jokes. 

I was due to have minor surgery for an unrelated issue at the end of July so with the news of my anemic condition, my family doctor made an urgent referral for me to have an iron infusion just before the surgery to boost up my levels. This is where I found myself spiraling.

“Um. There’s an air bubble in my IV line.” I nervously informed the nurse after she (finally) successfully inserted the needle into my dehydrated vein.  

“Oh. Hmm.”

I have to admit, the casualness of her “hmm” nearly set me off. Her gentle pondering, as if deciding what sandwich to order at Subway rather than understanding that my life hung in the balance of this errant air bubble, had me feeling distraught. Then she proceeded to try to unkink the line and tap it to no avail.

“It’s fine, I think. We can just keep an eye on it.” She stated this with an air of indifference, seemingly more to herself than me.

 I think? Did she just say, I think?

This nurse, Tonya, was a very patient and lovely nurse, but I couldn’t help but feel paranoid about her lack of confidence. My eyes frantically oscillated between the IV line and her badge and back, trying to confirm that she was indeed a highly skilled nurse who knew what she was doing.

I decided then that I couldn’t leave the fate of my being solely in her hands. So, I feverishly texted my boss (a nurse practitioner herself) for her expert medical advice.

Clearly, that wasn’t much help after all.

After obsessively tracking the static air bubble with my unblinking eyes for nearly 3 hours, I was finally released from the bloody death trap. Suddenly, I was pumped full of iron and a will to live like never before. I was a brand new me! Maybe, I thought, this is what’s been missing for me this whole time. My complete lack of patience, my pettiness, my food “sensitivities,” my moody bouts, my resting betch face, my many irrational phobias, they all finally had a source! Maybe this is what it was all along- a lack of iron.

If only.

Do you find yourself second-guessing medical professionals or self-diagnosing your condition via Google?

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32 thoughts on “Bad Blood

  1. And with Subway’a new menu, it even takes longer to decide. And thanks for reminding me, I still have half a Subway in the fridge for today’s lunch…Turkey with the trimmings (less cheese and mayo). Hope all is well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness this is hysterical! I’m so sorry about your anemia though and I hope you’re feeling better soon and the surgery goes well. I hate having that stuff done ❤️.
    Yes, I’ve used google but with really good reason.
    A long time ago I was dying and nobody knew why. It’s a really long story that took up almost 10 years of my life. Because doctors didn’t know why I was dying or how to save me, I googled a lot. I researched a lot. I read medical books. It was rough. I still have a long list of bizarre health issues that don’t make sense that I don’t have answers to. So to answer your main question, I don’t trust anybody. Especially not doctors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s such a crazy story! And must’ve been frustrating to be so ill and not know why!? Yes, with age, I realize I need to really advocate for myself medically… ask the right questions and do due diligence… it’s no longer okay to think “well I don’t want to ask because I don’t want to seem rude.” Once, years ago before another surgery, I had asked my surgeon, how many of these surgeries have you done? And he said to me, “it’s actually so great that you’re asking because no one ever asks.. more ppl ask questions at the mechanic than they do at the doctor’s office”… that’s a good doctor – someone who welcomes questions instead of feeling bothered by them… Hope you’re on the mend!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have spent thousands of dollars trying to sort everything out but in the end I’m broke and I still don’t have definitive answers. I’m not giving up, I’m just accepting that this is where I’m at right now. Good doctors are hard to find! I’m so glad that you asked the right questions and found one that was right for you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dr. Google – everyone’s on-call physician – helpful, until (s)he isn’t…
    I gotta wonder about your NPractitioner friend, though. But I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt since a lot of context is lost in texting! Happy to hear you’re back to work (both as Mom and as co-worker) fully fortified and all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m totally Dr. Google. I always pre check. However, I’m usually pretty comfortable with what my doctor says… but I find my doctors are quick to send me to a specialist if they have any doubt

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “I don’t want to be responsible for your death” LMAO Let’s cross her off the crisis text list lol

    Man. I google before I go to any doctor, and I cross-reference with WebMD and Very Well, depending on the severity. I’ve waited for results and googled them so I knew what to expect before the doctor came back in lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • hahaha I was thinking the same LOL I will never text you in an emergency again LOL

      I quick search is okay in my opinion but if it’s something that will keep me up at night before the doctor’s visit then I’d rather wait for the actual visit… but I get the appeal of looking it up beforehand just to make sure you’re armed with good info to go on then ask questions from there lol I just never say, “so I googled this” because that just opens up the floodgates for judgments from doc lol (okay we got a paranoid one over here lol) and not that I necessarily care, I just don’t want them thinking that about me then overlooking any redflags… hope that makes sense! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I typically like to be educated about most things. I have mixed feelings about using Google when it comes to medicine. A part of me knows that the doctor or medical person I’m dealing with knows far more about the subject than I do. There have probably been times when I’ve gone down an unnecessary rabbit hole or freaked myself out by Googling. At the same time, I understand miscommunication and things slipping through the cracks. Where does that leave me? I’m more likely to do a search if the person hasn’t earned my trust yet. I can see why the nurse’s “hmm” comment would concern you. You know your boss better than the rest of us, but it sounds like she was attempting to use humor to lighten the mood.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes lol my boss was definitely using humour to lighten the mood… we have a good back-and-forth banter so that actually made me feel a bit better and gave me the courage to ask the nurse that was helping me 🙂

      What you’re saying makes sense- do the research when you’re not sure and when trust hasn’t been built yet… always good to arm ourselves with good information – but the key word is “GOOD”… reliable sources are key!


  7. I don’t like the nurse’s nonchalant attitude either Jen, so I don’t blame you for going over her head like you did by asking your boss. I used to give blood all the time and they wanted me to take iron pills to boost my hemocrit level. I did not do that as years before I started at age 40 taking a multi-vitamin with iron in it with my breakfast (at the time Wheaties, coffee and orange juice). I mention what I ate because one day I came home from work by bus, got the car out of the garage and drove to the drive-thru bank to cash my check. I felt faint suddenly and pulled out of the line and drove home. I didn’t stop to put the car in the garage, but went into the house and had to lay down – on the floor, as I felt so woozy I couldn’t walk down the hall. I awoke and I had spots all over my body. I had already had measles. The next day I saw a GP who asked me if I changed my routine at all since this came on so suddenly. I said “no, except I recently began taking a multi-vitamin with iron.” He sent me to a oncologist/hematologist – that scared me. I had iron overload or hemochromatosis and the doctor said if I had waited any longer, thy would need to drain the iron out of my system – yikes! He said taking that multi-vitamin with iron with Wheaties was bad enough, but the orange juice boosted the iron in my system even more. My mom said “Linda, you read too many magazines, just eat a balanced meal and no vitamins.”

    I do use Dr. Google, but try to hit the sites like Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic if I’m trying to find something out. I have a deep mistrust of doctors as one dermatologist misdiagnosed my mom’s skin infection in her legs (cellulitis) and waited too long to refer her to a specialist (infectious disease doctor) and she had issues the rest of her days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG! I just did a deep dive just now after reading your comment, Linda! I wonder if I have too much iron now because after my infusion my iron levels shot wayy up but then my doctor said it would be fine since I was due for another menstrual cycle soon and then my surgery would bring the iron count down as well so she wasn’t too worried. She did tell me to keep just taking one iron pill daily for now until my next bloodwork but I’ve been taking 2 thinking what’s the harm! Think I will stop taking the iron supplements for now until I can do some bloodwork on Monday to see where my levels are at!

      Saying all this because yesterday I left work feeling so woozy and extreme discomfort.. I thought it was from post-surgery but who knows now! Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention – I would have never known!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome Jen. It was scary to me because truly, I was eating properly and only started on the iron because I read in a magazine to do it when reaching a certain age. The fact of eating Wheaties and drinking OJ made it go out of control and quickly. I have never taken a vitamin pill with iron again.

        A few years later, I was just above the borderline of the hemacrit level that you had to be at to give blood. I gave blood 3X a year at a local church blood drive. So the last time I gave blood, maybe seven or eight years ago, it was a Sunday morning and all the phlebotomists were standing around drinking coffee and eating donuts and bashing their significant others. I was the only person there to donate and I had a newbie and three times she put the needle in my arm to get the blood draw started and it fell out. I told her to get one of the other women to do it and she said “no” and got mad, so I called over to have one come see me and put the needle in so it stayed in, so they did but I was black and blue up/down my arm and never went back.

        I was following a Canadian blogger for several years – she lives in B.C. and she had iron infusions after she was so tired all the time. She rarely posts now but if you want to ask her any questions about iron infusions, her name is AJ and her blog is “A Petite Slice of Life” and she has a contact me page:

        Hope you have a quick recovery from your surgery.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh gosh, medical things are so scary! But it sounds like you handled this like a pro! And as always, adding humor helps. Although omg I know how NOT FUNNY it is to be in those situations. But it sounds like you’re alive and well so I’m very glad!! xo ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I get it! When I was your age with little kids, and working full time with little kids, I was anemic. The iron pills didn’t do a lot, I never got the injection that you did. But then, I didn’t have to worry about air bubbles. 😅 Fortunately I didn’t have Google back in the Dark Ages, otherwise I would have obsessed.

    Liked by 1 person

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