Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Expertise & Feathers

I am always fascinated and impressed when I see a job VERY well done, professionally and efficiently.

Yesterday afternoon I was given a prescription for a comprehensive blood test, so took it down to the specialist company in Lamalou - all they do are blood tests!

Tomorrow morning? they asked.

Yes, early if possible.

6:00am? they offered.

Not that early! How about 9ish?!

Certainly, Madame Upex. See you tomorrow at 9:00am.

So this morning I turned up 5 minutes early and was met by four staff manning the front desk. I was dealt with immediately. My records were brought up on the computer, my carte vitale (proof of health cover) loaded and all the necessary labels for the 5 tubes of blood printed off with all the relevant details of me and the tests required. It took barely a minute.

I sat on a chair in the waiting area but had barely taken the weight off my legs when I was called into the treatment room.

A charming, young blood-taker sat me down, put the tourniquet round my arm and swabbed with alcohol. Whilst closing her eyes, she 'felt' for the deep artery, put the needle straight in first go (with no pain what so ever) and slotted the first test tube in.

This filled with blood in seconds, and she had swapped the next one in with barely a blink whilst at the same time labelling the first. The third, fourth and five test tubes followed in quick succession. She withdrew the needle, placed a pad over the top and then exchanged it for a small plaster. No bleed whatsoever!

It was like watching a multi-armed robot at work. So smooth and in control.

I was out at reception again within a couple of minutes, start to finish, no pain or bleeding - and told that my results would be ready at 17:30 unless I needed them urgently.

Now I was a blood donor for 25 years in the UK and have as many puncture wounds on my arms as any serious drug addict. My veins are difficult to find, and my blood always terribly slow to leave but difficult to stop flowing. The sheer number of blood donoring attempts that had to be annulled because I went over the maximum time allowed for a session - is unbelievable! I have usually ended up back at work afterwards with a full bandage over the still-bleeding puncture wound .

So what is so different here?!

We asked this the first time - and it was explained that they do not go for the usual veins that the donor service use. They 'feel' for the deep arteries and are expert at getting the needles in first go. This is all they do, day in, day out.

These arteries are high pressure (so the blood pumps out fast) and have very strong walls which almost self-heal as soon as the needles they use are withdrawn.

Absolutely fascinating. I know we pay for this type of specialist company but I think it is worth it given the impressive level of service provided.

It cost me 23 euros.
It was an early start because of my appointment (we are retired you know and lie in most days!) and the mist hanging over the valley was beautiful. I even had to turn my headlights on down the hill to Lamalou.

Coming home afterwards, I drove down the slip road into our village and travelled along with the stone wall on my right. And what did I see? A plump quail just sitting there!

Scrabbling to get the car halted and the camera out, I had just got it focused when it leaped down, ran across the road in front of me and legged it through the vines. I was desperately trying to refocus on it but it reached the far side and disappeared.

That would have made such a great photo for the blog today! Shame!

So I started off again in the car and.......after two yards, what did I see? TWO plump quail strolling across the road in front of me.

Stopped the car, grabbed the camera and this time leapt out and set off after the birds as they trotted across the vine field.

I was desperately trying to get them in the zoom but my goodness, do they blend in or what?!

I finally gave up and found myself standing in the middle of this field, whilst just about everyone I know in the village were either coming or going....and did I feel a pratt. I could just imagine all the bemused conversations going to be taking place later in the day.

The mad English?! Tok! Tok!!

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