How not to break potential bad news

Yesterday I had a screening visit for a clinical trial, and I was accidentally the subject from hell, because my visit took twice as long as it was supposed to.  This probably makes me a bad person, but 1) mostly not my fault, and 2) I need the money.  (Oh my god, do I need the money.)

Nurse:  So.. how are you with blood draws?  Do you faint?
Me:  Um, yeah. A little.
Nurse:  .. er, this study involves blood draws 2-3 times a week for the next 3 months, so –
Me:  But, last time I was fine!  So I think I’m getting better.  I’ll probably be fine.
Nurse:  Okay… *blood draw*
Me:  See?  That was fine!
Nurse:  … I didn’t get anything.  Other arm?
Me:  Oh.  Okay, cool.
Nurse:  *blood draw!*
Me: … wait, I feel kinda..

She didn’t get it that time either, and as a cool extra bonus for her day, I passed out cold for like 10 minutes.

I had them try 3 more times after that (lying down this time), including one hand draw – but no dice.  5 tries total, and no blood.

I don’t get that.  How can I have needles stuck successfully into my veins and just not bleed?  Am I a superhero?  I was pretty damned close to suggesting they just stab me repetitively with a 12-gauge and then wring my arm out over the lab vial.  Worst veins ever.

Finally they brought in a phlebotamist, who pretty much just glanced at my arm and had 3 vials of blood drawn within 10 seconds, because I am sadly not a superhero, but phlebotamists totally are.

So the nurse and I were pretty happy to discover I don’t faint or even feel bad at all as long as people draw my blood while I’m lying down.  So I can stay in the study, and I won’t be passing out 3 times a week.  Excellent – so I figured the hard part of the screening test was all over!

Unfortunately, the ultrasound was… problematic.

OB/GYN:  Well, I can only feel one of your ovaries, but I’m sure they’re both there!  Haha.  Okay, let’s just do the ultrasound… see, okay, there’s the right ovary… cool.  And now the left one is… hmm.
*ten minutes pass*
OB/GYN:  Uh, I’m going to have to get someone else.  Hold on!
SECOND DOCTOR:  Hi!  I’m Second Doctor!  Let me just check the… hmm.  Err… well…

*ten minutes pass, during which the two OB/GYNs just stare at the ultrasound machine with furrowed brows.*

Nurse:  Well, one ovary still meets the study’s inclusion criteria…
Me:  Wait, are you telling me I only have one ovary?
OB/GYN:  I guess.. we can’t find it?  But if you want to have kids, you should probably have more imaging.
Me:  What?  And – wait, don’t they say it doesn’t make a difference if you have 1 or 2 –
OB/GYN:  Yeah, but some women born with one ovary also have uterine problems that prevent them from ever having children.
Me:  …
OB/GYN:  Or two cervixes.
Me: ???
OB/GYN: Don’t worry, you only have one cervix, though.
Me: … Great?

So, yes, there’s that.   Who knows how accurate that ultrasound was, but – on the bright side – good news, people!  Only one cervix here!

(After looking up the odds, I’m guessing I’m good on the child-bearing front.  If not, I was already thinking about adoption for other reasons, so it’s all good by me – but can you imagine how I’d be feeling if I wasn’t?  I’ll cut them some slack, because maybe they would’ve reacted differently if I’d seemed more upset, but… still!  Crazy stuff.)

15 thoughts on “How not to break potential bad news

    • I wish so, too! Probably should’ve asked instead of just staring at her blankly. I had to call Boyfriend to find out what they would’ve been talking about, ‘casue google wasn’t the least bit helpful. (I think it was a bicornuate uterus).

  1. I did a research study in med school for $$$, they needed asthma patients. They induced attacks by having me inhale extremely cold air for a few minutes, then gave me a rescue medication or placebo.

    I got the placebo and was starting to turn blue before it occurred to them to give me a real drug. But I did get paid.

    Another guy in my class was in a study to measure stomach pH around the clock. So he came to class with a digital gadget over his shoulder, with a pH probe going up his mouse and down to his stomach. For a week.

  2. The development of the genitourinary system is so cool! Did they say anything about having more / less than 2 kidneys or ureters also?

    Their bedside manner left a bit to be desired though, I will say, though I’m sure everything will be ok.

    • Sounds like I also only have 1 kidney – but no news on anything else! (I actually think that’s kind of cool. I mean, it’s not like I was ever planning on taking up a contact sport, so I’m cool with that.) They’ll do a more expensive ultrasound next week, so we’ll see what happens.

  3. Oh dang. Wow, that sounds like it would be the worst possible way ever to find out one is missing an ovary. Yikes. Glad to hear you only have one cervix though! That’s always a plus!

    • Haha, for sure. Probably the most random thing anyone’s ever told me in my life. (I’m sure it’ll seem less random after our reproductive unit in May. Or at least, I sure hope it will.)

  4. Appropriate titled! Good grief! Not even close to the best way to break such news. Sorry 😦

    About blood draws: drinking lots of water the day prior tends to help; being dehydrated doesn’t. fwiw

  5. Wow. What an odd experience. Hope the u/s goes well.

    I have a close friend whose heart is on the wrong side and turned backwards. For years, everyone assumed the x-ray techs screwed up left and right.

    The body can be odd. Symmetry is never true.


    • Situs inversus – wow. You know, it’s funny – medical school professors *love* talking about situs inversus, to the point where you’d think that doctors would catch it all the time.

      But in real life, I’m told exactly what you just mentioned – that no doctor wants to look like the idiot trying to flip around the x-ray or trying to listen to the heart on the right side, so they just… assume it’s nothing.

      It’s a crazy world.

  6. Holy crap! I also faint during blood tests – but not if I’m lying down, but my entire face goes numb… – but kudos to you for not entirely freaking out about the ovary thing. I’m not sure I want kids but I would have panicked just for the hell of it.

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