“My veins are really small, so you will probably have to try both arms,” I suggested as I wriggled out of my winter jacket. Snapping on his gloves, the lab tech retorted,
“Why do I have to?”
I could feel my face scrunch in confusion. Is that supposed to be a joke, buddy? After a moment, he chortled out a laugh in confirmation. He started to prod my left arm in an attempt to coerce a useable vein out of hiding. Unsuccessful, he took his glove off and tried again. I stared at his bear finger. Was it really doing a better job than it’s gloved counterpart?
“You can release your fist now,” He said as I watched the red flow into the first of five thin, long tubes. My fist was, in fact, released (I think I know the drill by now), but I had left my fingers curled, so that the tips were hidden from view. It was very cold that day and the short run from the parkade had my Raynaud’s out in full force. I had been inside for at least fifteen minutes, but I could see that three of my fingers were still yellow, nearly glowing against the purple and red of my slowly recovering hand. Reluctantly, I fully extended my fingers.
“Oh my God! What happened to your hand!”
Although fully expected, I felt a bit put out by this reaction. For a moment, I was angry:
Hellooo, this is a frickin’ hospital blood lab, buddy. People come here because there is something wrong with them, so no, nothing has “happened” to my hand, it’s just the way it is because I’m sick. You know, SICK, like everyone else around here. Get it??
Feeling silly and mean for my inner tantrum, I tried to murmur an explanation. “Oh, it’s because I have Lupus, which gives me Raynaud’s and…” He nodded politely and didn’t say another word until he handed me the urine sample bottle I needed to fill. I noticed that we both avoided eye contact. My yellow hand tingled as I took the bottle from him. Oh Raynaud’s, making things a bit awkward today, aren’t you?
Generally, Raynaud’s doesn’t bother me very much. I’m used to the pain now, I know how to warm up, how long it takes, what to expect, and it’s easy to hide (well, except during blood tests). I tried taking pills for it back in the day when it just started and I was being a wuss about it, but they made me sleepy and I couldn’t drive when I was on it, so I sucked it up and learned to live with it. I find it interesting, actually. Because of the colour changes, I have the ability to see the healing process of my hands and feet. It’s like I’m see through. That’s kind of cool, right?
Okay, so with all this blood test talk coming up again, I suppose I should give you a long overdue “lupie status update:”
I’m back to weaning off Evil P again. I’ve been on 2.5 mg every second day for a about a month and this week, I started to take it every third day. In two to three weeks, I will take it every fourth and so on. After all the decreased white blood cell nonsense, Dr. H has taken Big M off my medication list. It’s actually official, people: Big M is not for me. She wants to see if my lupus can remain stable on just plaquenil before trying another medication. I was shocked. Is it really possible that my lupus is stable enough to just be on plaquenil again? It feels hard to believe and I won’t get my hopes up too high, but it feels good to know that I’ve gone from 14 pills a day (and four rounds of chemo) to the possibility of only two in a year and four months. It’s been a long road and I know it’s not over yet, but I feel rewarded, even if it’s just a possibility. My little Raynaud’s story was from my monthly blood test two days ago, so we’ll see what my body has to say about this whole thing…
And so, I prepare for another chilly day, where I will most likely be tucking my little, yellow hands in my sleeve while I watch my keepers chat over lunch. And if that is, in fact, all there is on the lupie menu today, then life is pretty damn good.