(This is stream-of-consciousness, by which I mean missing punctuation and Joycean grammar….)

In the Needling Room, Wearing a Gown Distressingly Open to the Back (Me, Not the Needle Lady)

The nurse bends over my left hand–which I only see with my peripheral vision as I’d pass out if I had to look at the needle–and mutters to herself, this vein is collapsing. Darn.

I’m determined not to whine or (worse) shriek, but this is her second attempt. I whimper ow ow ow.

The nurse mumbles oh no! This vein is hemorrhaging! She leaps to her feet, slaps a gauze pad on my hand, and then does a hand-stand, all her weight on the leaking vein. Ow.

She tourniquets a colorful blue stretchy tape tight over the pad.

She inserts another needle into my right hand, and halts. Uh oh, she says. Ow, I say, a little louder now. She presses a small bandaid over this. I figure she’s running out of hands, if this one has to be wrapped like the other.

Do my elbow, I plead.

Can’t do elbows, your arms will be bent. She looks a bit distressed.

I’ll straighten my arm! I happen to be really good at arm-straightening! I sound desperate.

Sorry, she apologizes, I’ll have to get the nurse.

The nurse??!! The nurse??!!  Why is this nice lady, nice though perhaps not handy with needles and my teensy veins, stabbing me? Earlier this week at the dentist’s, a student oral hygienist fumbled around my teeth and I figured, well, she needs to learn somewhere, but this…this involves sharp objects!  And blood! My blood!

Nurse B sweeps in, all efficiency in fuchsia scrubs. NB looks at my bandaged hands, arrows a gaze at the needler person, then sets a needle quickly into probably my one remaining good vein. Quick, but ow. Both hands hurt like hell.

Whilst waiting in the corridor, holding both hands up like the Pope giving a blessing–hurts less this way–I see the beleaguered needle lady rush out of another examination room and apologetically ask Nurse B to help again. She says this time she only poked the patient once. Hey!

In the procedure room, I do a belly flop and fall face-down on the table, head wedged in a donut cushion like a massage table, arms bent at elbows on either side of my head. My face presses down against a thin netting, making me think of a fish in a net. I open and close my mouth experimentally. I make a sad face; fish often look existentially sad.

I’m distracted by the nurse fooling with my right hand, and cold acid seeps into my hand and arm. Ow. The doctor has been talking: Next you’ll feel a tiny pinch at the back of your neck from the local anesthetic–

What??! I mumble. What what? Shouldn’t I be knocked out before then??!!

No, he explains, you’re receiving ketamine in the I.V., which will relax you, but you will be awake.

Arrrggggh. I signed up for unconsciousness! I haven’t eaten in seven hours or had liquids in two!

The nurse cheerily remarks that ketamine is an animal tranquilizer.

Wait, I say. Wait wait wait! (My voice is getting loud.) This is the date-rape drug? I feel suddenly talkative, in spite of my face pressing into this donut thing.  You don’t need needles! This stuff is water-soluble!! I demand a Kailua with a ketamine chaser! Or wait wait wait, a 7 & 7 with a ketamine shot. To interested patients, I explain, you could offer ketamine-laced whiskey sours! Make it BYOB if the liquor license is a problem! Have them come early for happy hour!

The doctor coughs and says erhm, well, so you’ll just feel a tiny pinch of the local, then you will only feel a bit of pressure…

Pinch! Pressure! I exclaim. You know what it means when a medical professional tells you that. Yikes! Oh, I have a joke, I add. I’m Irish, I clarify so it won’t sound racist. The joke: Two Irishmen walk out of a bar…no, no, really!

I feel a pinch, I feel pressure.

Two seconds later everyone cries in celebratory voices, Okay, all done!  I lift up my head. Huh? They tear off gloves and scrubs. (That might be a memory from a House episode.) Everyone runs out except for the wheelchair lady. They have places to go, patients to stab.

What? What? I am still saying as I roll off the table and somehow aim myself at the wheelchair. Would you have a nice white wine? I’d even go for a rose, I tell the wheelchair person. In another room, I pull on my shirt, explaining how I’m really a red-wine person, but post-procedure ambience is more of a white-wine moment. I lift my right hand which is covered by a big red bandage. Owwww. Can you get that needle out? I ask. It is out, she says.

The attendant careens my wheelchair out a door with a NO EXIT sign into the sunshine right toward a dead-grass field. Oh no! Is this where you dump the bodies?? I say.

We have to put them somewhere, she says cheerfully.

She zips sharply around to the right and there’s the Jeep, with Himself inside. I climb in.

My space-time continuum has collapsed and only 30 minutes have passed. Himself claims it’s been an hour and a half.

My hands ache. The left is wrapped with pretty blue medical tape, the right with red. I could direct landing 747’s, I tell Himself. I wave my hands and arms in semaphores. This way, Captain–I flap with my red-wrapped hand–just pull your jet over here, to the right!


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