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COLUMN: Lab work leads to awkward interaction

By Tammy Malgesini

Staff Writer

Published on September 12, 2017 7:03PM

Last changed on September 12, 2017 7:06PM

It seems there are certain occupations where people think you’re always on duty.

I’m sure doctors get it all the time — running into patients at church or an athletic event. Some people think nothing of showing off a rash and wanting free medical advice.

As a journalist, I often have people approach me about doing stories — at community events (that I’m not covering), at the grocery store, at a restaurant eating dinner and even standing at Interpath Laboratory holding a container of my own urine.

Going to the lab to provide urine and blood samples already messes with my routine — especially the tests that require fasting.

It’s a delicate balancing act to go the required number of hours without consuming food, while drinking enough water to provide a urine specimen and still be a civil human being in public in a caffeine-deprived state because I haven’t had my morning Pepsi.

Because of my early week double deadlines, it’s most convenient for me to do lab work on a Thursday or Friday. On Sept. 1, the stars were finally aligning — although a late night snack nearly derailed the whole process.

I woke up in desperate need of Pepsi, but it had been nearly two weeks since the doctor called in the order for lab work. I knew I had to take care of it.

So, I finally make it to Interpath and the phlebotomist draws my blood sample. Since the urinalysis didn’t require fasting, she said I could take the bag and specimen bottle with me to do the UA at home if I wasn’t able to produce on demand. If I had planned to go home, that may have been a viable option.

However, I was headed to work and certainly had no interest in dealing with this in the work bathroom. The last thing I wanted to do was carry around a bottle of my own pee.

I produced the required specimen and exited the laboratory’s bathroom. Standing there holding a clear plastic bag which contained a clear plastic container with my urine, a woman who was getting her blood drawn by a different lab worker was staring at me. I smiled, because despite the caffeine deprivation, I’m generally a decent human being.

She said hello and introduced herself. I was dumbfounded — remember, I’m standing there with a plastic bag with a container of my own pee.

“OK,” I replied.

All I wanted was for my lab lady to re-appear so I could unload my specimen and be on my way. However, that didn’t occur and the woman then proceeded to tell me she was with some community group in town and she wanted to talk to me about her club.

I just stood there — flabbergasted that someone wanted me to engage in a discussion while I was standing there holding my own pee. Apparently, she noticed my reaction and asked, “Are you OK?”

I didn’t respond. It was surreal. I’m not sure how long the encounter lasted but the other lab worker interrupted the awkward interaction and directed me to my lab lady.

And, by the way, I wasn’t OK. I hadn’t eaten for nearly 12 hours, I was in desperate need of Pepsi and did I mention, I was holding a container of my own pee.


Tammy Malgesini is the community editor. Her column, Inside my Shoes, includes general musings about life. Contact her at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.


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