"Hope everything goes smoothly today," Ryan said, pulling his shoes off. He had just gotten home from working the night shift and would be in bed in under ten minutes.
"Oh yeah, it'll be easy. Five minutes. It's nothing."
I spoke too soon.
I had booked my time online to have my blood taken and wasn't expecting a wait. In fact, every other time I had been in the lab I was the only patient in the entire room. But this morning was different. There were not one, not two, but three wheelchairs parked haphazardly around the waiting area, their occupants staring ahead, bored, and their companions staring at their phones, disengaged. It was all routine to these people. An overweight woman in her 60s with what seemed like a very painful foot condition limped in, then a man in his 20s, then two more older women. Now I was glad I had made an appointment.
Behind the desk was a stressed out woman in her mid-40s probably. She had a very false high-pitched way of speaking to people. Maybe to her it sounded comforting or "friendly", but to me it was thinly veiled acoustic hatred.
I sat, waiting for twenty minutes or so, watching people get called in to room A or B, hearing the same question being asked over and over. "What's your birth date?" One man was born in the '30s. I had to do the math because that seemed literally impossible, but no, it was right. He was very old but was still on his feet.
"No...va?" My calculations were interrupted by the falsetto sing-song voice. "You can go into room A now, sweetheart, and have a seat. Thanks."
Room A was tiny. There was hardly room to turn around. The "seat" was a small sunken taupe padded bench boxed in between the wall and two low countertops, both of which were covered in biohazard containers and plastic drawers full of various needles and vials. I tried not to think about all the people and all the blood that had been there before me. I sat down and unzipped my hoodie.
As I was struggling with the sleeves which insisted on turning inside out, a young woman in blue scrubs came in.
"So," she said, unwrapping sterile packaging, "which arm would you prefer we do this on?"
I looked down at my very tattooed arms. "Um...I don't care, whatever's easier for you."
She looked at both and settled for the My Little Pony arm, tying a large elastic band around my arm and asking me to make a fist. I looked down at my lap as she inserted the needle. A combination of no coffee, fasting and needle jabs was a bit much and I didn't want to be the anecdote of the girl with all the tattoos who fainted when she had blood taken.
"Oh. Hm." She said, sounding unsure.
I looked up.
"Let me just..." she did something which I assume was move the needle around. It felt gross. "Hm. Sorry."
"That's okay, no worries. I get it." I said. I know that this poor girl probably deals with 398439857 grouchy old jerks every day, the least I can do is smile and not be a dick. It's not exactly my fault she can't find the vein but it's not 100% hers either, especially if she is new-ish to the job and relies on sight rather than feeling with her fingers where it is.
"I'm going to try the other arm if that's alright," she said, pressing a cotton ball into the crook of my elbow and taping it down with medical tape.
"Yeah sure, whatever you have to do."
So ... basically the same thing happens again. She is as gentle as possible and is trying as hard as she can but can't quite get it to work.
"Sorry. I think I'm going to go grab my coworker, she's been doing this a lot longer than I have." She taped another cotton ball on my other arm and left the room, only to return a minute later. "So...my coworker went on her coffee break, it's just a fifteen minute, I apologize, I can't find her, I think she left the building."
"Oh, okay, yeah. That's fine."
"So it won't be long, she'll be back soon."
And so I sat there for ten minutes just waiting and starting to feel a little panicky. What if they couldn't get it at all, what would I do? Should I offer to let them take it from somewhere else? Where else do people take blood from?
Then came in old falsey-high pitch. She was clearly annoyed and unsuccessfully trying to hide it.
"So you're giving us a hard time are ya?"
"Ha, sorry about that."
She pulled off my left bandage and quickly replaced it as a bunch of blood ran out. "Well, it looks like she was close on that one, you're definitely bleeding!"
"Yeah, guess so."
She then looked at the other arm, feeling around with her (un-gloved) hand, which grossed me right out. I watched her hand like a hawk, making sure she didn't get anywhere near my puncture. Because DISGUSTING. She didn't though.
She said a bunch of stupid shit about my tattoos which I can't really remember word for word, but I do remember her saying that "the best tattoo artists will leave a space so we can find your vein" and variations on that sentiment over and over. She clearly has never met a tattoo artist in her life, or anybody with tattoos for that matter.
Anyway I don't really feel like she tried very hard to find what she was looking for. She sighed dramatically.
"Let's see what it looks like lower. So we don't have to go through all that ink."
She held my hand out, turning it this way and that, and then dug through one of the drawers to my right. "That's what we're going to do. Hold these on the back of your hand for a few minutes, I'll be right back." She handed me two of those chemical heat pad things people use in their winter jackets up North. I held them there dutifully.
I could hear her talking in the next room, complaining loudly about how the printer wasn't "talking" to the computer. Then she came back to deal with me, the horrible tattooed idiot who was just ruining her day. Or at least that's how I felt at this point. And, to be honest, I wasn't exactly having the best day either.
She tied me off again and had me grip a (clean) urine sample container in my left hand. "This one is going to be uncomfortable." I braced myself and took a breath and um, yeah. It was "uncomfortable". *shudder*
After filling two and a half vials my blood flow kind of just petered out for some reason, like how did I go to the lab with the world's worst blood takers?
"Guess that's all we're getting," she said, "hope that's enough."
And she sent me out the door. Didn't ask how I felt or anything. But she did call me a "good sport" so hey, I've got that going for me.
I immediately came home, made coffee and had seriously the HUGEST bowl of berries and bran cereal which doesn't sound exciting but trust me it was so good. And uh, yeah. That was my day basically. Good times.
I also watched two movies today. I saw The Notebook before I went to my appointment and when I got back I watched Her. My weekends, when I'm home alone, are for watching all the movies none of the boys want to see with me. So here's what I thought:
The Notebook: yeah I was not a fan. What a pile of garbage. A Romeo and Juliet style super sappy dancing in the street laughing in the rain romance, followed by glamorized infidelity. The only part I liked was the overarching story of the old man reading the life story to the lady. That was sweet. The rest? Nope. Not for me.
I give it a 2/10
Her: this movie was pretty cool. It was again, kind of sappy and lovey mushy feelingsy for me, but at least it was a bit more melancholy and there was the whole realistic/futuristic feel to it. Plus the aesthetic was rather charming.
I give it a 7/10