The universe seems to be truly conspiring to get me to blog! This morning's adventure is a case in point.
Not wanting to bore you, gentle readers, with medical details, let me tell you that for several years now, the spouse has been on blood thinners, and also has to keep the thinness of his blood within certain parameters. This has involved regular visits to the local pathology lab, scoldings and much nagging when there is too huge an interval between tests. In India, though, testing itself has never been a problem: you give the blood sample in the morning, and by late afternoon or early evening you get the report online, well in time for the next dose of blood thinner, which we have learned to tweak as required. (During the lockdown, the technician would come home in protective gear and take the sample).
The problem arises when we travel abroad, and especially in the USA, where our visits are of a longer duration. Most places you can't get a blood test without a prescription, and if you do manage to get a doctor to phone in a requisition for you, you don't get the results in time for you to know how much of the thinner to take that evening. It becomes especially stressful if the patient has symptoms of extra thin blood like bleeding from the ear or nose.
And so, before we visited the son and his family in the USA this summer, I was determined not to travel without a Coaguchek, a device very similar to the home blood sugar monitors, but vastly more expensive, and rather more complicated. Nonetheless, your testing remains in your domain. The spouse had tried my cousin's machine when we visited him last October. It seemed sensible to acquire one. And so, a few weeks before we were due to travel, I bought the device from the dealer, and he came over in the evening to give the spouse a live demonstration of the same. This included setting the date and time, and the code chip for the box of strips. Although there was a fairly exhaustive booklet accompanying the device, I made simple procedural notes on a sheet of paper, which I kept in the machine's pouch. The young man was incredibly helpful, and said that we could call him any time we had a problem.
We had adventures with the device. The next time we tried to use it, it showed an error. We phoned. The dealer told us that it was a delicate darling, would not function in severe summer heat. And so tests were conducted in our bedroom, with the air conditioning on. The blood drop had to be of the right size, the device demanded a fat drop of blood. You had to remove your finger at the precise moment that it beeped. There were various error codes. Each time the spouse tests, it is a joint venture: I stand by with my instruction sheet, issuing instructions. We seemed to be getting reasonably competent, or so we thought.
This morning, after much prodding over the past few days, we proceeded to test. But, the device showed Error No. 3, which meant that the strip had expired. I checked the box: the strips were expiring next August. We tried another strip,and another one from a new box, which bore the same expiry date. (The second box is a monument to my stupidity, will spare you that story). We urgently phoned the dealer. He said that it was possible that the device's date settings had changed, hence the error. We looked. The time, day, month, all were correct. The year had mysteriously changed itself to 2023. The dealer had said that he could help us correct it on a video call. The spouse pottered off to his study. Charged by my new gung-ho spirit, I took out the instruction manual, and successfully changed the date. Summoned the spouse. The test was conducted successfully. I messaged the kind dealer, and we went about our day. Our life and its strange challenges!