I’d make a really rubbish vampire. Not because I’m particularly squeamish, or because I’m not actually hundreds of years old, living by night and afraid of crumbling to dust in the daytime. Or because I don’t have fangs. Just because I can’t quite get a hold on all that blood taking business.
Some time ago, I blogged about warfarin home testing in It’s only a little prick, sir…! and the frustrations I was experiencing in getting my GP to accept NHS prescriptions for a home testing kit. The good news is that after contacting my Clinical Commissioning Group, I was able to clarify that test strips for the machine are available on NHS prescription, as long as I have completed a ‘training’ on use of the machine and able to provide the Doctor with evidence. The good news is that I’ve completed the training. It lasts all of 20 minutes and is actually me just doing the Haematology Nurse’s job for her – ie, taking my own blood through a fingerprick lancet device to test my INR to gauage how much warfarin I need. They train for years, of course, and I got 20 minutes. Which is how I know I’m not a natural vampire – I don’t have a knack for collecting blood. Since the training, I haven’t been able to get a single result at home, having now used up all the test strips I had.
It seems simple enough, especially if you’re as butch as I am and don’t get squeamish about blood. You insert a lancet into the fingerprick device, prime it, stick a test strip into the meter, warm it, up and then dangle your arm to get blood flowing to the tips of your fingers. A gentle massage of your finger and then you have to whack in the lancet (without screaming) to prick the finger (quick, mind, as you only get 15 seconds before the blood starts clotting) and then you squeeeeze the blood onto the test strip for a count of two. If successful, the machine beeps loudly and hey-ho you get all sorts of wonderful magic test results. I haven’t managed this at all yet, and just spent an evening swearing and sticking plasters on finger after finger after finger until I ran out of test strips to play with. It looked like something out of Saw by the end of the evening.
I ended up having to go to hospital to get properly trained nurses to draw blood out of me and do another test. Since then, I had a message from the GP about my ‘test strips’. I rang back, armed with all the info from I’d got from the CCG, anticipating a battle over the prescription again. They were just letting me know the prescription was ready – including a sharps box (I’ve always wanted a sharps box, it makes me feel like I’m in an episode of Casualty.) So, I’m going to have to try again.
Unless you’re a vampire, or a murderer, or a trained nurse/heath professional, it is actually quite hard to draw your own blood without making a complete and utter hash of it so that you either fail to get anything at all, or you end up spewing out blood like some crimson geyser. When I had blood tests before my chemoptherapy treatment for testicular cancer, someone accompanying me fainted and had to be looked after by the nursing staff. Guys, aparently, are much more likely to faint around blood than women, which is why they make you sit dwn when they take any. I have never fainted, dear reader, for I am a man’s man.
Vampires are a favourite for erotica stories, and series like Vampire Diaries and films like The Twilight Saga, contribute to an increasing popularity of their mythic status. I’ve always found vampires faintly ridiculous and don’t quite understand the fascination. I wrote a vampire strory, ‘The Ward’, for a collection of vampire erotica Blood Lust, and which is included in my own anthology A Happy Finish. It’s a modern take on vampires, and was based on my experience of heart surgery. You wouldn’t believe the amount of blood they take from you after surgery ! Well, it has to go somewhere …
I need to hone my vampiric nature as I’m not giving up on the home-testing. I’ve booked a long weeekend in Transylvania in the hope that on a dark night, on a lonely country road leading to a moonlit gothic castle, some handsome Eastern European aristocrat might seduce me with his vampiric charm…. MWAHAHAHA.
ACSMA is the Anti-Coagulation Self-Monitoring Alliance and campaigns to support self-testing, and for home slef testing to be provided on he NHS. It lists the benefits for individuals and theNHS on its website, and suggests how you might help.