I turned 45 recently, so was looking forward to getting a comprehensive health-check done via my NHS GP surgery. COVID-19 restrictions put paid to that, however, and as of July 2020 there is no idea about when these tests will be up and running again. That's a great shame, as preventative health care is very important in my view.
I had a look around for other options, and it came down to arranging a health check at a pharmacy (eg, Lloyds or Boots) or using a postal service. Boots weren't running their service when I called, and the Lloyds service was fairly limited in scope (ie, not breaking down the cholesterol level by HDL and LDL). After browsing a few of the postal options and what results they could deliver, I settled on Thriva as their website was (a) very informative (b) asking sensible questions about me and what I wanted to find out about my health.
After I'd created a personal profile on the Thriva website, the full range of tests available became clear: they can test for a lot of things! A range of tests had been pre-selected for me, but I was free to tailor my package by removing any that I thought were un-necessary (or adding any that sounded good). Each test has a specific price tag, so I could make a value judgement on each one.
One thing about Thriva is that it's a subscription service where they send you a test package every three months. You're free to cancel at any time, but it's something to bear in mind.
The health check box arrived a couple of days after I paid for my subscription, and it was a joy to open - as I demonstrate in the video below. Both sides come out together, and it is really clear what's what.
I first attempted to do the test first thing in the morning, as recommended (since you need to avoid food for 8 hours previously). Unfortunately I was a bit dim with the lancet and didn't realise that the protective tip needed removing. I discovered my mistake after re-watching Thriva's how-to video, but only after having breakfast. So I decided to fast for another 8 hours. When mid-afternoon came around I was fairly hungry of course, but I'd been drinking regularly so felt confident about getting a good sample. I got a good stab with the lancet, but unfortunately couldn't get the blood flowing freely - so ended up squeezing it out. The instructions stated specifically to avoid squeezing (more about that later), but I was getting quite hot and bothered. My wound was healing quickly too; a second stab with another lancet didn't help to get the blood flowing.
In the end I'd managed to squeeze out enough blood. I'd estimate that it was around 30 drops to fill the yellow-cap vial to the 600 marker.
I put the package in a "priority" postbox in town at around 4pm, and was amazed to receive a text from them at 11:30 the next morning stating that they'd received. That's amazing service - both from Royal Mail and from Thriva! Despite being told that the results would be ready in a couple of days, I got an email later that day informing me that my results were ready. I hopped onto Thriva's website and the results were presented very nicely. It wasn't all good news though, as my "squeezing" technique for extracting enough blood had caused the blood cells to burst. This meant that my cholesterol readings were incomplete - notable, my LDL cholesterol (the bad one) couldn't be determined. All other tests were successful though, and the readings were either "normal" or "optimal".
After examining my results, I decided to shrink my subscription down to just the Cholesterol test. I'll do this when the subscription renews, in three months time. The Thriva website makes this super-easy to do.
So my first attempt at a postal-service health check was semi-successful. If I'd read the instructions carefully enough then I'd have been able to take the test first thing in the morning and would probably have been able to extract the blood sample easier. In hindsight I'm sure that I was dehydrated when I tried it in the afternoon, so my main advice for next time is to drink lots of water! Thriva tell you that, but this can't be emphasised enough - especially if your wounds clot quickly, like mine. The second tip is to watch the Thriva collection guide carefully and to re-watch it if things don't seem to make sense. I think that the service that Thriva offers is great, and would highly recommend it.
If you like what I've said here, please use this Thriva referral link that earns me a £10 credit when you take your first test. Thanks!