While undergoing my required physical exams last summer, I was diagnosed with polycythemia, a blood condition suggested by an elevated hemocrit number–basically too many red blood cells (almost the opposite of anemia). While there is no cure, per se, a simple blood letting (therapeutic phlebotomy) every 4-6 weeks helps lower the hemocrit number. Thanks to American networking here and the kindness of local medical personnel, I was able to have a phlebotomy this morning at the University Clinical Center. (Please note that the featured image found online is from an earlier, snow-free period. I still haven’t purchased a camera.)
The procedure was fast and friendly. (Again, the friendliness and helpfulness of these Kosovars continues to amaze and delight me.) I climbed four flights of stairs in the Emergency Center (evidently built by the Czech Republic) and entered the crowded waiting room of the transfusion center. I then was escorted to a private, smoke-filled office where I sat in a reclining chair beside a blood platelet extractor (the only one in the entire country, according to the assistant). Without washing her hands or putting on gloves, the physician swabbed my arm fold and stuck in a needle; the blood bag lay on the floor throughout. Less than 10 minutes later, the needle was removed, a gauze bandage wrapped around my arm, and I was given a box of strawberry juice to drink. Throughout, both medical personnel chatted with me about my being in Kosovo as well as my life back in Texas (“Teksasi” as I have learned from local television).
Today provided yet another reminder of all the things I take for granted back in the U.S.