Just because I sat too long lingering over a cafe au lait, my body betrayed me.
Apparently cutting off my circulation for an hour and a half on the rim of a bentwood chair was a bad thing. Now I had to have a needle inserted in my arm once a month to make sure my blood stayed thin enough not to kill me.
At first my denial made me drive long distances to a lab, but eventually I accepted that it had to be done and found a facility closer to home. I quickly became familiar with the regular phlebotomists on the theory that if I focused on my tormenters, I would think less about what they were actually doing to me.
First there was the hunky young guy. He had tats all down his arms. Did I really want a guy putting a needle into my arm who had sat in countless tattoo parlors to have his arms decorated? Did he not know that needles hurt? Someone told me that tattoos had special meaning for the adorned, so what was with his Michael-the-avenging-arc-angel tattoo? Was this phlebotomist getting back at the patients or protecting us?
Occasionally the Sandra Bullock lookalike, Rachel, took me back to her chair. When I quietly mentioned this observation to her, the hunky phlebotomist with Michael the arc angel snorted, “That’s what all the men think too.”
After that I noticed that the men patients gravitated to Rachel and the female patients gravitated to the male hunk.
But one day there was a new phlebotomist. She was a short Filipino woman and she wore a purple maternity smock.
“Oh, I see you’re having an addition to your family,” I said, thinking she was pregnant but not wanting to just come out and ask her when she was due.
“Yes, yes. How did you know?”
I leaned forward as though I were sharing a secret with her. “I’m a bit psychic,” I smiled at her.
“You are? Can you tell me, then, will the baby be okay? It’s my daughter’s third child but she is in Guam and wants me to come. Her husband is gone and the hospital has had three infant fatalities in the last year. She is so scared, so I am going to go. But? Can you tell me? Will the baby be okay?”
I just stared at her. I couldn’t tell her I thought she was pregnant.
“Please, please tell me.”
I could no longer look at her. I looked away, as though I were turning away from what she was going to do with the needle. I had thought it was a rather flippant remark for me to make; now here she was so needy. Should I admit I was just joking around? Should I admit I had made a mistake, that the particular shirt had made me think she was pregnant?
This poor woman just wanted some reassurance. I also realized she had stopped doing her needle thing and she was holding her breath, waiting to receive my vision.
Before I could second-guess myself again, I heard myself mumble, “Yes, everything will be just fine.”
She was effusively grateful. “Oh, thank you, thank you! You have really put my mind at ease. I will call my daughter tonight to reassure her.”
She finished the procedure and I rushed out of there.
I felt kind of sick to my stomach, and not just from the needle prick. My conscience was pricking me too. I knew better than to trick people; yet I hadn’t intentionally tricked her.
Probably the statistics were with me; the baby probably would be okay. Nevertheless I vowed to myself not to even joke about such stuff again. What was the saying? “What goes around comes around.” Maybe the arc angel on the hunk’s arm would “get me” next time.
A couple of months went by without my seeing her again. Just when I was relaxed, thinking I probably would never see her again, she was back and, recognizing me, grabbed my medical record and ushered me to her chair.
“I’m so glad to see you again!” she gushed. “My daughter had her baby and you were right, everything was just fine!”
“Uh-huh,” I agreed mechanically.
I sat in the chair and stared at my arm as she wrapped the rubber binding to make my vein pop out. This time I was going to punish myself and watch the needle plunging into my arm. I didn’t want to look at her face. My concentration did not stop her, though.
“But now, I need to ask you about my mother, I am so worried about her!”
Again, she stopped the procedure, waiting in anticipation for my answer.
I sighed heavily. How did I get into this? How could I get out of this? What did fortune tellers do? Tell their clients what they wanted to hear. Right? Or just wing it?
Finally I raised my eyes and looked into her desperate eyes, and said very prophetically, if I do say so myself, “Well, Nature will take its course.”
“Of course, of course, you are right. I was just hoping…”
I gave a noncommittal shrug, thinking our conversation was over.
“Can I just ask you about my husband? I’m not so sure about him anymore.”
“O my gawd!” I thought to myself. What have I gotten myself into? Her demands will never end. She wants answers to every aspect of her life. I could envision her bringing in a list of questions, just waiting for me to show up again. Or worse, she’d be asking for my card and want to bring her relatives for life readings. She was waiting; I had to say something.
“I’m sorry, I don’t get those kinds of feelings, only about health issues, not about relationship issues. Sorry.”
“It’s O.K. I understand,” she said.
She slowly finished drawing my blood. I held my breath, hoping she wouldn’t think of any last-minute questions.
As I hustled out of there, I began to have a vision of my own: I think I am going to have to find a different facility to have my blood drawn.
Copyright 2011 Linda K. Brown
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Linda is an amateur photographer. She has been told that a photograph is worth a thousand words. She sometimes snaps out verbal images, too, usually about the same size: + a thousand words. Comments are always welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.