Fainting like a little …
Okay, let’s go ahead and address this. I’m a fainter. Many of you will be shocked to hear it. I’ve hid it from the world for most of my life, but every once in a while, when I’m around needles, I faint and people point and say, “Hey look, that guy’s a fainter.” Like a little girl. My two young daughters mock me. My wife refuses to acknowledge it, like the spouse of an alcoholic who thinks if he just refuses to admit the truth then it will all go away.
Last time I was in the hospital, when I thought I was just going to go over my latest CT scans, they surprised me and said, “Hey, what the hell, while you’re here, let’s draw some blood.” They seemed chipper enough at the time, so I followed and we went into this little torture chamber room that has specially made chairs where a big padded arm swings down in front of you and they line you up and stick a needle in you and hustle you through the process like a Ford assembly line. Well, assembly lines have their vulnerabilities. I collapsed in my chair.
In my defense, I will say that I’ve gotten better about this kind of thing. Normally, if the nurse is competent and can hit the vein on the first try, I do alright. However, this nurse was either less competent than most or more psychotic. After the first stick and miss, I walked it off. On the second miss, I winced a little. And looked over at this eighty-something woman who was looking at me condescendingly as she was having her blood drawn. I could’ve sworn she mouthed “Don’t be such a little bitch” at me.
This is where things start to get a little blurry, after the third needle or so. I remember, on about the fourth try, the nurse complaining to me, like her inability to hit the vein was my fault. I remember squeezing that little red ball they give you to pump up your veins. I remember beginning to sweat a little. I remember looking the other way and thinking about baseball. (No, wait, that’s sex.) Anyway, things start to run together a bit here. It’s possible I shouted, “Murder! Somebody stop this woman!” But that is all a little fuzzy. What I can confirm is the nurse waving (possibly snapping, she seemed to be snapping something) a little plug that smelled like highly concentrated ammonia and burning my nose. It’s possible I grunted some obscenity at this point. I remember thinking I had stumbled into a witch’s coven or some Silence of the Lambs type of thing. Needles, blood, crazy eyeballed lady staring me down and saying something. And then nothing. And then more of that cursed ammonia. And then more crazy eyeballed ladies. Several of them hovering, asking things like, “Do you know your name?” … “Do you know what day it is?” … “Do you know who the President is?” And I’m like, “Yeah, he’s the guy constantly raising my taxes.”
Which seemed to satisfy them because they didn’t stick anymore of that foul-smelling stuff under my nose. They wheeled me down the hall and made me lay down with a cold towel on my forehead and drink orange juice and then they chided me for not eating before coming in and therefore having low blood sugar and screwing up their day. Actually, they were pretty nice and only ridiculed me a little. Except for the one nurse. I could see her in the background doing a little dance and waving my vial of blood around like she’d just caught the game-winning pass in the endzone.