Saturday, 28 November 2009

Sweet enough already? by Kate

Another week and I make the acquaintance of another troop of white-coated Spanish medics and give them yet more phials of my blood to examine. They must be getting pretty familiar with my corpuscles by now.

First event was a routine appointment with the obstetrician - well, another obstetrician. Female again with the standard nurse sidekick and in this case, a junior obstetrician observing as well. Theo and I had arrived early and were resigned to hanging around for half an hour or more before our appointment came up, but as it happened, none of the embarazadas scheduled before us had turned up so we got ushered in within a minute of our arrival.

Blood pressure and a quick scan plus some general questions about how I was feeling covered it on this occasion. The tocologia was more friendly than our previous one and she not only smiled a few times, but actually took the trouble to give us a quick guided tour of the latest scan of Fosbella, who seems to be doing fine and definitely resembles a baby, which is a plus. The whole thing was over in less than ten minutes, which meant we could enjoy some time at home before having to leave for work.

Then the day I had been - well, not dreading, but definitely not looking forward to. The O'Sullivan glucose curve test. I had been on a supposedly special diet for the three days previous to the test (although I couldn't really see anything especially special about it, apart from the requirement for me to ingest at least four big desert spoonfuls of sugar every day, which is quite a bit more than my usual intake) and was then told not to eat anything in the ten hours prior to the test.

I arrived, hungry and a little late at the massive Ramon y Cajal hospital and found the now familiar scene of a packed waiting room full of impatient Spaniards and South Americans waving their volantes (appointment forms) and complaining about the lack of chairs and the queues. Luckily, it didn't take the team in Cabina 4 too long to get to me and I was swiftly sat in a chair, (similar to a dentist's chair, but with better arm rests) and duly tourniqueted and jabbed. I then had to drink another flat, supersweet orangeade-tasting glucose drink and was sent to wait for an hour.

I obediently found a corner of the waiting room and joined the other potential diabetics who were all undergoing similar procedures to me and all looked similarly hungry. A goodly chunk of my paperback later, I was called back and jabbed again, this time in the other arm. The medic was less hassled than the first one (the queues had gone down by now) and took the time to make a little friendly smalltalk while she extracted another few ml of my blood.

Back I went to the waiting room and did a bit of marking to take my mind off my empty stomach, before going back to my book and getting through another few chapters before my next call back to the jab chair and another blood test. I was becoming an old hand by now and even made a joke with the medic about having to start on the veins in my legs soon as she stuck the needle back into my vein.

Back to the waiting room and this time I had a brief chat with another embarazada, who was by now the only other patient left in the place apart from me. She was quite young and was accompanied by her heavily tattooed and highly attentive boyfriend (Theo had offered to come with me, but I had turned down his offer with thanks. No point in two of us hanging around for hours). The girl's bump was impressively large and I was surprised to learn that she was almost a month less pregnant than I was. She assured me there was only one in there, a boy and I concluded that he could well be a future prop-forward for one of Spain's emerging rugby teams. When her turn came to be jabbed, she whimpered, went pale and looked like she might throw up while the attentive boyfriend and I both made reassuring sounds. She got through the ordeal intact and climbed out of the chair, face suffused with relief. I thought of Theo.

Then it was my turn, now with a different medic, who was also rather sweet as she asked me to choose which arm for the final blood test. I went for symmetry, two in each arm and a few minutes later we were finished. It was half past twelve and I was starting to get obsessed with the idea of food. Thankfully Theo had thoughtfully packed a banana and clementine in my bag. I devoured them ravenously as I made my way back to the train and the promise of a lunch date with friends. I was looking forward to seeing my friends, but I'm afraid they took second place to the prospect of food. I can't remember the last time I was so pleased to see a bread roll.

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