The other day I went to the doctor’s office for a blood test, and it took three people to find a vein that would give enough blood. That isn’t particularly unusual. I have shy veins. The last nurse to try to get blood out of this turnip asked me whether I had been drinking water that day.
“No,” I said.
She asked: “Why not? You know you are supposed to drink water. You’re probably dehydrated.”
I told her I had been ordered to eat or drink nothing for 12 hours before this test, and she said, “That doesn’t include water. It includes just about everything else, though. Don’t drink coffee or tea, or milk or juice. You should drink water, though.” She said drinking plenty of water before the blood test would plump up the veins and make them easy to access.
That little conversation reminded me of a story I had read a few months ago in the March 2011 Consumer Reports. Coincidentally, I read it in the doctor’s office, while waiting for a blood test. The article was about things our doctors wished we knew.
First on the list was that patients who looked up their symptoms on the Internet in order to “help” their doctors with diagnosis were largely wasting their time. According to Consumer Reports, about 61 percent of patients do this, but only about 8 percent of doctors find it useful.
Second is building mutual respect between doctor and patient. That doesn’t mean patients can’t ask questions (such as “can I drink water before a blood test?).
Third, patients should take their medications as directed. Not following treatment is not good for patients and frustrating to doctors.
Fourth, pain is hard to treat. The treatment of pain is most effective when trust exists between patient and doctor.
The next time I go in for a blood test, I’ll be floating.