The clinic telephone rings.
"Hello, my name is blah-blah and I came to the emergency clinic yesterday because I had sex with my boyfriend two weeks ago and I wanted to know if I'm pregnant. The doctor sent me for a blood test but I don't understand the results".
So far, nothing out of the ordinary. I'm not allowed to give results over the phone, but I can explain them if the patient has gotten them off the internet. It is a bit tricky, because the norms are given immediately below the actual result, and , you'd be amazed how many Israeli women don't understand the meaning of a decimal point ["but it says 0.59, isn't that 59?"], and  they insist on reading me the normal values and arguing that it does or does not mean they are pregnant [less than 3 international units of human gonadotropin is "negative" for pregnancy; more than 25 means 100% definitely pregnant]
I walk her through the results ["Look for the line which reads HCG QUANT., etc"], which usually takes a few minutes as most Israelis have trouble with the Latin alphabet, especially with abbreviations. Finally she announces that the result is "Three". I ask her how late her period is. She tells me it isn't. I explain that it therefore is too early to have a definitive result and she needs to repeat the test, if she doesn't get her period, in a week or so. She's not exactly happy to hear this: she doesn't like getting stuck for a blood sample [who does?]
"Can't the lab use the blood I've already given?" she asks, at which point I realize that she thinks if the sample "cooks" longer, she'll get a positive result. Sadly, I have to inform her that it doesn't work that way. "Why not?" she asks, and frankly, I can't think of a really good way to answer her. There is a kind of mad logic here -- it IS the blood of a woman who is possibly already pregnant, the sample simply hasn't "matured" enough, like a good wine which improves with age.
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