When we ran out of time yesterday, I was still worrying whether I would be able to follow the Lab Guy's instructions, since I hadn't listened to him very closely. It could have been nervousness on my part, or I might have been distracted by his orange aloha shirt.
In the interest of good taste, I won't describe the feeling of straddling a disposable aluminum loaf pan, but I'll admit I was glad to have one available this morning. With the help of the pan, I was able to make the smears the Lab Guy wanted. I sealed the smear cards in the plastic bag and lit out for the lab, intending to drop it off and go.
The hospital lab is new to my HMO, and today was the first day the HMO's doctors were required to send patients there. There are a lot of doctors suddenly learning how to fill out the new forms, and a lot of patients unsure of where to go or what to do. So that's just where I wanted to be at ten thirty on a Friday morning. It took me at least ten minutes just to find a parking space.
There was a long line at the admitting desk where I was told to go, so I stood and watched other people fill out forms and give information to the clerks. The retired cop in front of me grumbled the whole time and made feeble jokes about this not being any way to run an airline, and the rest of us nodded and chuckled and didn't say anything and wished the guy would go away.
It wasn't until I got to the front of the line and talked to someone that I learned I couldn't just drop the sample off and go. I had to be admitted to the hospital, apparently, because the young woman started asking me the kind of questions that made my heart beat a little faster. Religious preference. Next of kin. Birth date (shudder!).
Then she gave me a plastic bracelet with my name on it and told me to take my baggie to the lab. I had to ask her where that was, and she said to take the elevator to the second floor and turn right. I had no trouble finding the elevator. I had a lot of trouble turning right, because a right turn took me to patient rooms, and I didn't think I needed a bed just yet.
I kept turning right until I was back where I started, and I asked a woman in scrubs to point me toward the lab before I got any dizzier. I was standing in front of the elevator again, and she directed me to my left. "Walk toward the light," she said ominously, but she meant the light over the desk halfway down the next hallway.
I handed over my package and my bracelet, and the lab tech thanked me. Not quite able to believe anything in this place could be that simple, I asked her, "Is that all?" Yes, that was all.