It was supposed to be a simple procedure. It wasn’t supposed to be emotionally draining. I’m talking about going to the local Red Cross to donate blood for my own surgery.
I’ve been trained by my local lymphedema clinic physical therapists very well. I will always ask to have my blood pressure taken from my leg rather than my arm. This is what I’m supposed to do since I’ve had lymph nodes removed from both arms. I’m supposed to avoid taking blood or any constrictions that my cause lymphedema.
I have a huge fear of lymphodema. If you had breast cancer and had lymph nodes removed, you might have done searches on the Internet and come up with this…..or this. And I’m being nice. I don’t want to gross you out with the worst picture I can find. And if lymphodema gets bad enough you might have to walk around in this for weeks or maybe even life. I’d like to think I’m being unrealistic but the truth is that I could get an infection from a hang nail or I could set it off from a simple blood pressure cuff in the arm.
So I didn’t think I was being too difficult when I asked if the people taking my blood could take my blood pressure out of my leg (all the doctor’s offices do this?) and I asked them if they could be as careful and gentle as they could when they take the blood.
Well….this opened into a full fledged crisis that left me crying in the end.
The woman I was talking with got the woman in charge who came over to tell me that was not in the written guidelines for the Red Cross. It MUST be taken in the arm. I then told her I would be fine doing the blood pressure in my arm but I admitted to them that I was quite surprised they were so up in arms about taking the blood pressure in the leg. It is the exact same thing only in the leg. There are minor variations. SO I let her know I was fine with it but I was surprised by it and that I may follow up with this very uninformed policy.
So instead of just doing it in my arm she decides to call the director….who is a doctor BTW. She talks to him and while talking to him she says “He’s wondering if this is a preference or an order by your doctors?” As far as I’m concerned it’s an order…..so I said such. Any medical professional should know you should avoid pressure or cutting/poking on an arm with lymph nodes missing. This is not saying in an emergency it can’t be done….it’s just about avoiding anything that might tip off the early onset of lymphodema.
So then she gets off the phone and informs me that their “guidelines” don’t allow them to take the blood pressure from the leg and since it’s an “order” from my doctors I can’t have blood taken. Aghhh!
So I’m getting angry now. I ask her to get the doc on the phone again. I won’t go into details but Iwas pretty up front with him. Basically I said….I’m a mom of three kids, I don’t want lymphedema. If HE was in my situation he would do whatever he could to avoid lymphedema and that my doctors don’t tell me I CAN’T take the pressure in the arm, but they do tell me to avoid it.” Finally I convinced the doctor that I could do it out of my arm…..by now I’m in tears.
I just wanted my dang blood taken so I could have it for after my surgery and I’m being careful about my situation. I didn’t mean to make it so difficult!
I do not want to harp on the Red Cross because heaven knows they are a wonderful organization, and those nice people are getting my blood to Northwestern to be available for me after my surgery at no cost. But I think it’s absolutely CRAZINESS that they will not take a simple blood pressure reading in a leg!