If I have to get blood drawn, I told myself, I might as well whimper through it like a man. A man who was wearing a hoodie. A man who'd knotted his hair into a man bun. But 175 pounds of man nonetheless!
I stepped into the lab.
It smelled like people’s coats. Which meant there were at least 6 jackets ahead of me. A sign I should take my hoodie and leave immediately, perhaps? Reluctantly, I signed my name on the clipboard and then didn’t have a seat. There weren’t any available (with two empty seats flanking it). Meanwhile, no one else cared what I was doing. I had a nice, silent back-and-forth with my iPhone as the nurse summoned everyone else back but me for the next half hour.
Nurse or phlebotomist? I’m not sure what she called herself. If I were her, I’d go with nurse, because phlebotomist has to be the most vile-sounding occupation of all time, pun intended. Even coroner sounds more warm and fuzzy. I’m going to die in here.
More time ticked away, then she was back checking her clipboard.
“Tay,” she called out.
“Tay?” she said again. “It says Tay here, did Tay go outside?”
“Oh, you mean Jay?” I asked, realizing the confusion wasn’t going to resolve itself.
“No, I mean Tay.” She looked down at her clipboard again. "This definitely says TAY!"
“Haha, that must be me,” I said lamely. “I’m Jay. But I guess I write like a Tay.”
“Hi, Tay! Haha, I have a granddaughter named Tay—we call her Tay-Tay—and she writes her name the exact same way!””
I followed her back to what I presumed to be the BLOOD ROOM. She said something else about Tay even though I wasn’t showing any interest in keeping that whole thing going. Plus, I was busy staring at the vile of blood across from me and trying not to request its immediate removal from my sight.
The phlebotomist—we’ll call her Phleb since I didn’t catch her name—was full of stories about her morning and how TAY had parked behind her and she had to back out into her yard to get around the car. I nodded and made sympathetic sounds at the wrong times as she wrapped the tournivomit around my arm.
“Sorry, I’m not that good with these situations,” I said to the wall.
“Aww. Would you like to lay down? Some people do better that way.”
Some people like…screaming toddlers? I was a man!
“I’ll sit,” I told Phleb. I said it like it was a choice even though I was frozen with fear.
Phleb said she’d ask me questions to distract me. I swear I think I heard Tay’s name again, but I can’t be sure because that was when she STUCK ME. I had my eyes closed, so I’m not sure how. Or with what. But it hurt. And there was a lot of heavy breathing on my part. And then it was over and I was putting my head in my hands and Phleb was like, “Uh-oh. I’ll get you some cold water.”
I told her that would be great, thinking maybe I’d need a stretcher, too.
I drank the cold liquid and stood up, weeble-wobbling the twenty feet next door to my doctor’s office for my post-test appointment. I was doing really well paying my co-pay until I started sweating profusely and had to crumple down into a nearby chair. Someone who felt sorry for me handed me a Sprite. “Sugar will help,” she said. And it did. I felt back to my old wimpy self in 15 seconds.
Next time will be different, I vowed. Next time, I’ll lay down on the toddler bed.