This week I learned that I just can’t do the “finger prick” blood tests. I’m having some tests done by my GP at the moment but as the lab they use will not carry out all the tests that (I believe) are necessary, I’ve arranged to have private blood tests done. I got the testing kit through yesterday and had the bright idea of getting the blood drawn when I went to the surgery to see the phlebotomist this morning. Unfortunately the tube they have provided wasn’t suitable so I decided to wait until I got to work and carry out the finger prick bloodletting for which the kit was intended.
Great. This’ll be easy. I thought.
So – the first instruction is to make sure your hands are nice and warm and then wrap an elastic band around the base of your finger and wait for it to turn red. Mine decided to turn white. Hmmm. That didn’t look right. I thought I’d try putting the band around the last joint. That seemed to work. Finger turns red. Grab lancet. Stab a hole and wait for blood to drop into aforementioned tube. Except the drop of blood hovered on the edge of the newly created hole and didn’t appear to want to leave my finger. I gave it some encouragement. Unfortunately it decided to drop down the inside of the little funnel leading into the test tube and *very* slowly started to run down. I started to see why they’d provided three lancets in the kit.
I waited for the second drop. It didn’t materialise. Bugger.
OK – maybe we’ll try a second finger. Same trick with elastic band. I warmed my hands up under the hot tap (not too hot, obviously) and waited for my fingers to warm up to a suitable point for bloodletting. It worked.
Great – grab elastic band, apply. Finger is nicely filled with blood. Grab lancet. Pierce finger and – yay – blood drop! One big fat on into the tube. Now we’re cooking! Second drop looked a bit small. Third drop was starting to congeal and wouldn’t drop. Can’t force it really and talking to it nicely with lots of encouragement didn’t work. Bugger
I looked at the test tube that I was supposed to fill with blood. It was about 1/10 of the way done. And again I say “bugger”.
That’s when I realised that it was going to take more than just two fingers to get the job done. I also realised that the lancets provided are one-use only. Slight problem. No way was I going to be able to fill the tube with one lancet left, despite the fact that I had another six fingers to use.
It was suggested that I leave it and come back later (mainly because I was getting a little frustrated). Good plan, except that the funnel would have clogged up and rinsing it out wasn’t an option as it would be no longer sterile.
I opted to try the third finger and succeeded in getting three drops out of that one before the finger decided that enough was enough and it was going to heal nice and quickly and produce no more of the red stuff. The tube was about 2/10 filled (if that) and I had no more lancets to use.
I have to confess that there was a lively debate about getting a pin, sterilising it in a hot flame and stabbing myself in the fingers repeatedly until the tube was filled but in the end I decided to call the testing company and ask their advice. They were lovely and said that the finger prick stuff didn’t work for everyone and they’d send me out another tube so I could get the blood drawn properly.
I’ve now booked another appointment with the phlebotomist and, hopefully, next time I can get the blood taken by someone who knows what they’re doing and not end up with little plasters all over my hands!