This morning we set off just after 10.00am to travel to Leeds for my appointment at the UK Biobank Centre in Leeds. As stated in the leaflet that came with my initial invite to take part, and I quote, ‘The purpose of UK Biobank is to set up a resource that can support a diverse range of research intended to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness, and the promotion of health throughout society.’ unquote.
We caught the 10.28 am bus from B which is a good 10 to 15 minutes walk from our flat (and as K was accompanying me, I added on another extra 5 minutes to the time needed to reach the bus stop in order to take account of her short legs and walking speed.) The bus journey was uneventful apart from K and I doing our usual ‘musical chairs routine’ and swopping seats as soon as the occasion allowed and our favourite seats became available, as we do prefer to sit on the higher up ones overlooking all the other passengers! This gives one a feeling of superiority we find (especially as we are both none too tall!) We aren’t keen on sitting in the lower seats, and anyway you can see more of what’s going on from the higher seats at the back.
We disembarked outside the Town Hall at approximately 11.30am, plenty of time to suss out where the building I needed was as my appointment wasn’t till 12.00pm, and anyway, I was armed with a map so what could possibly go wrong? I thought that it was down the street almost opposite the Town Hall, but actually it turned out to be two streets further up, and a very kind gentleman came out of his shop and rightly guessed that I was looking for the Biobank Centre so he gestured down the street towards the building and doorway I needed.
Once inside a concierge let us through the barriers and told us which floor we needed via the lift. Floor 8. The lift doors closed, I pressed the 8th floor button and Whoosh! I promptly left my stomach behind, my ears popped and that was followed by that awful sinking feeling as a very fast lift comes to a stop. K looked terrified as we came out and went into the reception area. Next I was ushered to a computer terminal by a nice young man who showed me how to answer all of the questionnaire which was all computerised. Hmm, of course I felt right at home! Touch screen as well! This was going to be fun! K in the meantime was being spoiled rotten in the waiting area by the Biobank staff who were giving her copious amounts of drinking chocolate and biscuits whilst she waited.
It took me about 30 to 40 minutes to fill everything in, and then I moved on to the first actual physical assessment with a nurse which consisted of her checking my previous answers, finding out what medication I was taking, if I ever had any operations done, etc, and then my blood pressure was checked. She gave me a flash drive on a holder to take with me to the next examination area. There I had my weight taken, my height, my bone density checked and my body mass index was also measured. My lung function was not checked because I had previously suffered a heart attack.
Last but not least I was moved on to the blood taking cubicle. She sat me in a very comfortable chair and following the usual keep your arm straight and clench your fist routine, proceeded to try and get my vein for her blood samples. Of course she didn’t hit the vein and although I never look, I knew because it hurt like hell! “Hmm, your veins are moving about, can you clench your fist again?” she asked, getting another needle in the process. Damn! I hate when this happens! Why oh why do some have so much trouble yet others don’t? I have asked one of our nurses about this down at our surgery, and she stated that it all depended on who was doing it. (which of course I had already surmised for myself!)
The second time, she found the vein, but good job I wasn’t tempted to look as she had tons of phials to fill, and by the time that she pressed the cotton wool ball on the spot and gave a container for my urine sample, I was feeling quite light headed and sick. I never ever faint, but I do go woozy. She showed me where to leave my urine sample and so I did all that followed by a quick cup of horrid tea from their machine, took a snap of Leeds from their window which because it was so high up afforded an excellent view, and then we made our way back down in the ‘express lift’ where K clung onto the grab rail like glue as it descended, and outside.
It was quite warm by the time we re-emerged into the sunlight and very busy with people making full use of a warm spring day to do some shopping. We made our way to the railway station for our usual lunch at McDonalds. Following buying our train tickets home, I took the opportunity to take some panoramic shots of the station foyer and the platforms. As the London train was in, I also took one of K stood near the front bogie before it was due to set off to King’s Cross. Soon it was time to climb on board our train for home, but not before taking a quick picture of the Penzance train arriving as it was due to arrive before our train was due to leave.
Everyone (including some station staff) were stood waiting for it on Platform 12A and it had crossed my mind that this was strange seeing as it always usually pulled in on 10A in the past but the voice over the tannoy kept insisting that it would arrive on Platform 12A. I was patiently waiting to take a picture of it as it came into view. As I spotted the train approaching it was obvious to me that it wasn’t going to arrive at 12A after all, but instead at its usual platform across the way which now meant everyone making a frantic dash up the stairs or escalator across the overhead concourse and then down onto Platform 10. We nearly ended up getting knocked down in the rush and panic! And so onto our usual grubby train, which by the way has now begun to continue on to Manchester after reaching our little station. Even better news, we are definitely getting the much rumoured train to London journeying through our station at the end of this year! Wow! And to think that its only been about 5 years since it re-opened! Now its practically the Mecca of the North!