Thursday, April 26, 2012

I'm Glad Doctors Don't (usually) Shoot People

...Take this from the perspective of a man who, as a patient, freed himself from restraints in the hospital on more than one occasion. Yeah, I did that. I shouldn't be proud of it, and I can say my brain was out of order due to a severe vitamin deficiency, but I'll admit a certain dark comfort is mine because I know how to get out of bed even if they strap me in.
   That brings me to tonight's thoughts.
   I'm getting my blood drawn tomorrow. They're testing my cholesterol. The work order says:
   "Patient should fast for 12 hours before..."

   I like the word "should". Should makes it clear that whoever wrote the instruction wants me to fast. I'm a writer. I know darn well what should means. I also know what should does not mean. It doesn't mean I can't eat or drink before the test. Should doesn't mean do not.
   I'm going to get my blood drawn in the morning, and I want a cup of coffee before I go. I hopped online and asked the specific question about drinking black coffee before having my blood tested for cholesterol. I should have asked my doctor if it's okay if I have some black coffee, but I wasn't thinking about it then. Several medical sites say it's fine to have a cup of black coffee before the test. Not one said don't.
   I drink coffee all day. It seems to me that coffee in my system should be part of the baseline, not excluded form the baseline. So...unless that caffeine kicking around in my system makes it impossible to draw blood from a vein, there's no reason I can see why I should put the plebotomist (that friendly person with the handy-dandy needle) at risk of meeting Evil Coffee Headache Snarky Dave. No one likes Evil Coffee Headache Snarky Dave...not even me.
   They're testing my blood to see what kind of cholesterol is kicking around in it. It makes sense that I not spike the cholesterol level by eating before the test. Those websites I referenced earlier all said that 10-12 hours of fasting is necessary to let the cholesterol get down to its lowest levels for testing. That makes sense.

   I don't do rules, as a general rule. I do reasons. If someone gives me a rule, I want to know why it's a rule. If the individual can't tell me why something is a rule, then I'm probably not going to follow it. I'm not five years old. In the present case, I can see the reason eating a donut before having my cholesterol test is a bad idea. The test will see the donut, and I'll spend a lot of money on Lipitor I might not need to spend because a hunk of fried dough fooled the test.
   There's no cholesterol in my black coffee. The caffeine might shrink my veins a wee bit, but I'm sure they'll keep jabbing until the little vial is full of blood. I'll be able to handle the jabbing...because I will be Dave the Benign, not Evil Coffee Headache Snarky Dave.

   (thinking, thinking...DING!)
   Actuallllllllyyyyyy... Come to think of it--I broke the no coffee arbitrary rule the last time I had my blood tested. Therefore and ipso factoid, if I don't drink coffee before this blood draw, I might skew the results by NOT drinking coffee.
   I don't want to skew the results. I'd better have some coffee in the morning. Yeah. That's the ticket!

1 comment:

David J. Steele said...

In case anyone is wondering, I'll confess:

I chickened out and did NOT drink any coffee the morning of my cholesterol test.