Doctor's appointment update: I survived! After procrastinating for literally years (read about it here and here), I found a doctor and had myself checked out. My visit was uneventful until I went to the lab to have my blood drawn. The tech asked me if I've ever fainted during a blood draw and I said no, I haven't had this done in a loooong time, but it shouldn't be a problem.
Her first try was painful. I wasn't looking at the site, but it felt like she was digging a ditch with that needle. I felt a sudden rush of heat and said, "Woah, I don't feel so good." Apparently I was having what is referred to in medical jargon as a vasovagal response - what a terrible feeling! I was given an ice pack and told to lay my head down. Several minutes later, the tech asked if I wanted to go ahead with the blood draw. "Absolutely," I replied. "I don't want to have to fast again!" So we went to find an exam room where I could lie down. She tried again, in my other arm this time, and everything went smoothly.
At the end of the visit, I felt fantastic. As I skipped along to my office, I texted my little sister AL: "Just had my blood drawn and almost fainted. Guess I'm not as tough as you." AL suffered a stroke in October of 2007 due to a cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM) - this picture at right gives an idea of what an AVM might look like. In the months that followed, she had to undergo invasive brain surgery and countless medical tests and procedures. After all that, I figured that a blood draw would be a piece of cake for her.
AL texted me back: "Oh but you are! I would probably faint too." Hmmm. Later that day, she called me. She said that she doesn't really remember having her blood drawn in the hospital, even though it was done several times. The combination of intense pain, heavy and sustained medication, and brain bleeding have left her with huge gaps in her memory of the time she spent in the hospital.
AL said that it's weird to have these long stretches of time that she doesn't remember. Or she'll remember one random thing that happened, but not know exactly when it happened or what came before and after. This made me think of the time I sat down and wrote a journal about her (our) ordeal. I thought she might like to see it. Maybe it would help fill in one or two of the gaps. AL seemed excited about this. Thus, my assignment for the week became digging up the journal and sending her a copy. I'm looking forward to a re-read (writing the journal was so therapeutic at the time), and hope my sister finds something in there worth knowing, too.