Slow bleed

By Mir
June 23, 2005

I had to go have blood taken this morning. You and I and half the internet all know that the only thing wrong with me is that I’m touched in the head, but my doctors thought they’d check a few other things, anyway. And really, who doesn’t enjoy a quick trip from work to have a needle jabbed in their arm?

The nurse called me from the waiting room and we walked back as she looked at my file. “How ya doing?” she asked. “Any better?” I guess she was the nurse who saw me the last time I was sick.

“I’m okay,” I answered. We arrived in the lab room, and she turned around to peer at me.

“You sure?” she countered.

“Well, I’m HERE, but yeah, other than the depression and anxiety and whatever else might be wrong, I’m GREAT!” I was hoping that would end the conversation.

She stopped prepping the needle and vials and looked at me. She sat down and started talking… about her own divorce, about how we all go through rocky patches on our way to the better stuff. I nodded and found myself retreating in my head; inching away from this woman who’d decided to bare herself to me when I myself have cobbled together a delicate framework for holding myself intact at the moment.

Finally she started tapping my arm, and I assured her I’m a very easy stick. Of course, today would be the day when the needle had to be rooted around a bit before the blood flowed. I clenched my teeth and didn’t exhale until the blood began slowly filling the test tube. The three containers seemed to take forever to fill.

My arm tingled as she placed the Tweety Bird band-aid over the puncture. I stood to leave and she placed a hand on my shoulder.

“You’re a beautiful young woman,” she told me, earnestly, “and you’ll be just fine. I know it.” She patted me and then pulled me into a hug. I managed to escape and blinked my way into the bright sunlight outside. Once in the car, I fumbled for my sunglasses as tears slid down my cheeks. I opened all the windows and let the wind whip through the car as I drove back to work.

This afternoon I removed the band-aid to reveal a large, perfectly round, purple bruise. The interesting thing is that the area outside the bruise–the skin that appears to be fine–is much more tender than the bruise itself.


  1. Georgia Jones

    I had blood taken just a few weeks ago, for very similar reasons. The nurse was incredibly upbeat, as was the barista I saw directly afterward, and I wanted to smack both of them.

    I’ve been feeling so fragile — anything will set me off these days, including asking what I did over the weekend, and the weekend was perfectly pleasant — and people who are even the least bit intrusive, even in the nicest of ways – well, I can barely stand them. Used to be, I could turn a bad mood into something fun. But these days I’m running low on humor.

    Anyway. Just found your blog and thought I’d say hey. FWIW, you’re not alone.

  2. Michele

    sometimes others can see us clearer when they’re not standing in the storm.

    I’ve been here before too. Big Hug, you’re not alone.

  3. jenl

    Oh Mir…
    I’ve gotten messages like that at times when I wasn’t equipped to believe them. I know how upsetting it feels. Keep the faith, honey. Keep the faith.

    ps. *love* your blog.

  4. joshilyn

    You know…maybe I am an evil troll, but that whole thing would have given me the creeping horrors. I MEAN, BOUNDERIES, for the LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY.

    I cannot BEAR it when near-strangers want to HUG—gives me the screaming willies. And I am NOT alone. There are a LOT of us out there who are just not PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH STRANGERS people.

    Truly sensitive people can SMELL us and they pat our shoulders or just SIT near us and NOT touch us when they offer that sort of insta-comfort you sometimes get from strangers.

    The whole scene seemed so horrifying to me that I can’t tell if you left feeling comforted or invaded-slash-dying for a quick bath in some chlorox.

    At any rate, you SOUND better! You DO.

    Next time a nurse tries to hug you all unsolicited, leap backwards shrieking BAD TOUCH BAD TOUCH! That always works for me.

  5. Jenny

    I am so used to not getting any sympathy from anyone, that , on the rare occasion that I do, eekk, I instantly fall apart. It’s worse than not getting any sympathy.
    I tried to donate blood the week of Christmas….they said they really needed me. I am not an easy stick. The poor sweet nurse I had screwed up majorly. They sent me home without donating after all of that, AND, 6 months later, my arm still hurts if I keep it bent, as in long phone conversations.
    I’ll be thinking about ya!

  6. helllonwheeels

    I was recently very bad off. As bad as it can get, without saying outloud that “I had a plan”. The first counselor told me to “Endure until the end”. Blink. Blink.

    The second one forgot our second and third appointments and then went on vacation for a week. Then berated me for missing our 4th appointment, which I’d been unaware of, mostly because I hadn’t resheduled since I was disallusioned with her. For our 5th appointment, she led me into the kitchen area, with 3 separate entrances and no doors – for privacy. I left. Then she called me by the wrong name when she called to confirm our 6th appointment, again that I hadn’t scheduled.

    But, boy howdy, do I know all about her diabetes and bad knee and why she was late for the appointment she did make.

    Is it just me, or does it seem since HIPAA came out, professionals seem even less professional about boundaries? Or am I just ultra sensitive since I used to be a counselor myself, and was trained about not hugging, calling clients “sweetie”, discussing my personal issues, etc.?

    Anyways – I feel for you. I’m not sure I’ve ever commented but I’m a long time reader and suscriber.

  7. Kris

    Am I missing something here? I realize it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to catch up with my favorite blogs, but that would freak me out. Like “what do you know that I don’t????”

    Seems like very odd comments for medical professionals to make. So do they know something they’re not telling you??

  8. ben

    When I visit the doctor they usually say things like “what was your name again?” and “don’t stand so close to me, I think you might be sick.”

    (I had a witty comment about pricks that leave bruises, but I won’t put that here since, well, yours is a family blog. Unlike mine, which on some days flirts with an NC-17 rating)

    I hope today feels a little better than yesterday, and tomorrow perhaps a teensy bit better again.

  9. Zuska

    “The interesting thing is that the area outside the bruise–the skin that appears to be fine–is much more tender than the bruise itself.”

    Hey! This is another metaphor isn’t it? You’re so good at this!

    Hope today is a better day for you…

  10. Dawn

    My experience is similar to Jenny’s. When you’re not used to sympathy or support, an unexpected show of it can have the opposite effect it’s meant to have.

    One of my best friends made me cry (inadvertantly) by running a bath for me when I arrived at her house after a long plane ride. I was in a rather cold marriage at the time and wasn’t used to anyone being that considerate of my needs. I hadn’t realized how insular I’d gotten until that moment.

    And I made my other really close friend (who has a disabled husband who needs a lot of emotional support) cry last summer when I said to her, meaning to be sympathetic and supportive when she was berating herself for feeling weak and in need of support sometimes, “It’s not easy always having to be the strong one.”

    When you’re used to always keeping a stiff upper lip, sometimes it only takes a little bit of sympathy to make the lower one start to quiver.

    But I’m with Joshilyn on the boundaries issue. Some sympathetic words are nice from a nurse you don’t know, but the hugs are a bit over the top. She has her heart in the right place no doubt, but needs to learn a more professional way to show it.

    Hang in there.

  11. poopie

    Should’ve had a lab person drawing that blood hon. We wouldn’t hug you on a dare ;)

  12. Suzanne

    you know…that woman was trying to show compassion. She has been there, and knows how it hurts, and she was just trying to be a kind person to help you. There should be more people like her.

  13. HomefrontSix

    I’m with Joshilyn on this one – boundaries are a good thing. While I’m sure her heart was in the right place, there are still boundaries to consider.

    I hope tomorrow is a better day too and that the bruise doesn’t linger.

  14. La Pix

    Beautifully written.

    I’m someone who’s allergic to sympathy and even empathy when I’ve constructed my facade so well that even I don’t know it’s a facade.

    Yesterday I discovered that I STILL have a deeply ingrained and serious problem with admitting I need help or accpeting help.

    I’m sure that lady was trying to help, and may have been able to help someone else with her approach. She’s not evil, or even stupid, it just didn’t help you pretend you were fine. Or give you comfort – or did it?

    And while all that’s true… you DID cry. Something squeaked out of the balloon even though you’re fingers are pinching it as tight as you can. I hear you. My fingers have gone numb.

    And even though I really am fine, I admire you for writing this, and for other things you’ve written. There’s no such thing as goal setting and steady progress in the realm of trust and comfort and faith in this life. Sometimes we have to take a leap. Maybe that’s what the blood lady was trying to do.

    Of course those leaps work so much better if the person whose hand you’re holding (or trying to hold) leaps with you, instead of the yank and hanging there with separate views, one facing the cliff and one still standing on top of it. Your arm must hurt.

    I hear you, and I won’t hug you or try to cheer you on or be effusive. I won’t even look you in the eye (something friends do that always gets to me when I feel like SHIT and don’t want to know it).

    I’ll just say again that I hear you, and your pain counts, and you are loved and important in this world. And if you email me I won’t give you one bit of advice. And maybe this is projection, but I don’t care about that. I think right now, I’m just standing beside you.

    Love, La Pix

  15. Shiz

    I’m hugging you, too. Even though … weird.

  16. Mindy

    Just thought you might like to know that there truly are strange people in the universe that you might never had expected to exist. Case in point? My 16 yr. old daughter. She absolutely LOVES to have her blood drawn!!!! Unbelievable!!! especially to me, her more than just squeamish mom that almost faints just looking at a needle whether it’s going into my arm or someone else’s. She just thinks it looks cool and ‘likes’ the way it feels. Is that really healthy? I worry sometimes. Other than this peculiararity, she is a delightful young womam full of promise and, might I add, not at all the drug addict one might assume a possibility for someone with this type of fascination. Oh well, just thought this comment might make you smile, or at least sit and scratch your head in amazement , which probably won’t hurt anything so enjoy.

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