Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A stop at the Pee Shop and an argument over power wheelchairs

Today’s third stop in my eight hour medical appointments marathon was the Pee Shop. Here in Canada things like bloodwork, urine samples and such are done in separate “medical lab offices.” My doctor had given me “one more” urine test to try and find a biological cause for my heart problems, so I rolled into a packed lab waiting room with Linda holding the door.

“Take a number” the red haired female tech in her thirties told us.

“How long will it be?” Linda wanted to know. Twenty minutes. Linda asked me, “You want to wait?”

“Not to pee in a cup!”

“Oh,” the tech looked up, “Urine sample, just a minute.” Linda handed her the form.

After finishing writing the tech woman looked at the form, “This isn’t for a urine sample, this test requires you collect all your urine during a 24 hour period.”

“What?!” A look of horrific disbelief is stuck on my face, “That can’t be a real test.” I told her, “You’re just collecting this stuff and selling it on Ebay to Japanese men aren’t you?”

“Oh it’s real,” chimed another female tech who was staying to watch, “Just be glad it isn’t the 72 hour stool collection.”

After a few blinks over that image, I continued. “All of it?” I asked the red head in disbelief? “And I just bring it to you?”

“We give you a four liter jug.”

“A jug!” I mimic holding a jug and look down between my legs, “How am I going to get that in the bowl?”

“We give you......” She looks at the mass of people behind me, some as few as two feet away and said, “I’m going to collect the kit and then I’ll explain everything.”

While she’s away, I ask the other female tech, “That 72 hour stool sample thing isn’t real is it?”

A woman’s voice from the people waiting to be called behind says emphatically, “Oh yes it is!”

I tell Linda, “I know two good reasons I am not becoming a medical tech.”

That’s it, you want to know how it is collected, you take the test. And if you see someone on ebay selling “lesbian urine,” you let me know.

I also had a two and a half hour seating clinic today with Janet, who seems in a permanent slightly manic bipolar state. She got my story, and is working with me to get the right wheelchair with the right body fit. She referred to me as “an acquired taste” before later making fun of me while I was sucking oxygen laying down. She had been trying to convince me that maybe, with my growing mobility issues, a scooter (look of horror on my face), she changed that to......or a motorized wheelchair might be better. I was so animated that every time she started to say the words, “power wheelchai…”, I would cut her off with ANOTHER reason why power wheelchairs were not ME. So animated that I ran out of oxygen and keeled over in my chair. They had to move me and get a doctor. When I could see again I was looking past the doctor to try and continue the argument and scrub the words "power wheelchair" from Janet's mind. Except the doctor kept leaning over me saying, “Shut up, deep breaths” I would try to say, “No.....power wh..” The doctor would put her finger over my lips, “Shut up and breathe!”

After several minutes, “I used to have a little OCD.” I whispered around the oxygen.

“You! OCD! Gee, I never would have guessed;" Janet said over me with glee, "obsessive athlete mentally, I know about that, and I’ve got two kids with OCD, so you think?”

Janet is “force of nature” who coaches the Paralympic swimming team (and is off to Nationals in a few days) besides her two kids and helping people like me get mobility. She promised to find me a volunteer from a special program who will go with me to the pool so I can do swim fitness with oxygen as well as help me in the change room. She had actually seen me out on the Oceanside Park on Sunday and told me should couldn't help fixating on my bad fitting loaner chair and kept saying to herself, “Don’t stare at her bad fitting chair, don’t stare at her chair.” (Okay, now I REALLY want a new chair). After trying one of the titanium ultralites, she was telling me, “Oh, we gotta get you hooked up with wheelchair basketball, the guys are going to love you.” I am thinking, “Aren’t I in a wheelchair to LOWER my heartrate? Wheelchair basketball?”

“Can I wear my oxygen while I play?” I asked.

“Hmmmmm.....we’ll work on that, some of the older guys would freak a little.” She said, “the younger people would be fine, but you know, the older guys.....”

Then later she gives me a lecture (while somehow looking at Linda instead of me) on “moderation” and “taking breaks” and how when someone from transit comes to do the one to one instruction on riding the bus I couldn’t do “any tricks?”

“You mean wheelies?”

“I mean passing out.”


Before leaving she gave me tips on how to use my wheelchair and disability to milk people to get my own way. But then this from a woman who on her first day on the job told “Blinky” (jokes blind people tell about each other) jokes to her aghast coworkers to a totally silent break room. “But they got used to me,” she said, then thought again, “Well most of them.” (yah, and she thinks I’m an “acquired taste”) But we got on really well and I’m glad she the one doing my wheelchair fitting, as long as she does it by Tuesday (her being away at Nationals will delay things a couple weeks she isn’t done by then), “Oh, and I thought you cared about me?” She teased me, “But no, you’re just praying my plane doesn’t crash so you get your wheelchair.”

I also have a new sports doctor as of today. She doesn’t talk much but when I said, “Are you interested in the case” she said, “Yes.” With a look like, “Who wouldn’t be interested in such a bizarre case?” I told her that if she wanted to see the rapid pulse progression I would be happy to do a stress test (you run on a treadmill which gets ever faster) until I passed out. She declined.

“Yes, but you could see it first hand.”

She appreciated the offer but stated that while possible it “might not be the safest course.”

Geez, I’m just trying to be helpful.


kathz said...

Doctors are strange.

At a Quaker event a few years ago there was an elderly Quaker with a motorised wheelchair - the kind that goes just a little faster than pedestrians. I spotted her standing up with sticks while encouraging able-bodied teenagers to have a go on the wheelchair. "Go faster," she was calling after them. "See if you can do a wheelie." The teenagers looked a bit alarmed but were doing their best to comply. It made me think there was something to be said for motorised wheelchairs.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Let's just say I have minor control issues and refuse to let my life mobility yet be determined by the use of a mouse hand.

kathz said...

I'm mostly loyal to my push-bike but I look back fondly on a year riding a moped - especially breaking the 30 mph speed limit coming down the hill outside Starford-on-Avon. Mind you, my moped had a sad aversion to the rain, which was a pity, given the English climate. I was sad when I had to sell it, however.

Jawsie said...

I probably waited four of five years into my illness before changing from a manual to a powerchair. To me, powerchair screamed permanence of disabilty so much more than the manual chair did and for that reason I was reluctant to get one. When I did eventually aquire one however, I cursed myself for not getting one earlier. My quality of life immediately improved, I had more energy for doing the things that I really liked. Given the choice between using a powerchair and having half an hour of energy spare for something I enjoy like reading or talking, as opposed to struggling around in a manual, or wasting precious energy getting stressed while waiting for someone to come and attend me and then having no energy for anything else, then the decision was a no brainer really. I just wish I could get the dam thing to go faster than 4 miles an hour. I heard about a guy once who was able to tweak his to go 60 miles an hour! If anyone can get his number, please pass it on to me! :)


Cliff said...

Ms. McClung:
Please note the review I wrote for you at Amazon.com. I think ZED is an extraordinary book and I congratulate you for executing such a brilliant first novel.

Cliff Burns

Elizabeth McClung said...

Thanks Cliff - I have learned that when people have nice things to say about me, I must deduce they are far wiser than I and must listen carefully - glad you enjoyed the read.