Really exciting day lined up: I’m getting my bloods done.
With no appointment booked it was a case of turning up and queuing up. The waiting room, as ever, stank of old people, wee, and misery. Just as well there were no free chairs; there’s only so long you can wrinkle your nose and hold your breath. Far better to sit out in the corridor, watching the world and their sickly mother shuffle past as you repeatedly check a ticket counter that refuses to budge.
After all these years of being stabbed, drained and tested, bloods don’t usually bother me. Following my recent stay in hospital, however, when three separate doctors left my arms black and blue for weeks, it appears my body is now somewhat reluctant to play ball when offering up vital fluids.
“My, my, haven’t we got small veins,” said the nurse brusquely, as she pinched, prodded and slapped my arms a little too enthusiastically for my liking. She was obviously expecting said veins to leap to the surface and present themselves, like lambs to the slaughter. They refused to come out of hiding. She wasn’t impressed.
“Perhaps my veins don’t like you.” Is what I’d like to have said, if I wasn’t restricted by good manners and the knowledge that the vampire nurse was brandishing a bloody great needle with my name on.
With the customary “just a small scratch”, she punctured my skin with all the grace and care of a stampeding bull. I swear my backside cleared the seat by a good couple of inches, causing the now embedded needle to jump around in my flesh. I yelped (in my head; stiff upper lip and all) and glared at the top of her head. Wretched woman. Had she used a Dyson DC39 to suck the blood out of me I don’t reckon it would have hurt much more.
“That was really painful,” I wailed when the damage was done. I waited for the reprimand but instead her face fell and she looked genuinely gutted. “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what I did differently.” She looked flustered.
Well, didn’t that make me feel guilty as hell. I ended up apologising to her for my discomfort: for my tiny, uncooperative veins; for leaping from the seat; for causing the needle to move; for my pre-existing pain having made it an altogether more unpleasant experience – for both of us.
By the time I slunk out of there I’m pretty sure I’d taken enough of the blame to restore her faith in her own needle skills. At least I hope I did, or God help Number 88 in the queue.