I had blood drawn the other day. I don’t envy phlebotomists. Imagine having a job where everyone hates you for what you are about to do, and the first thing you say to the person is “make a fist.” Plus, when she tells people she’s a phlebotomist, a lot of her patients think she has six husbands.
My technician, Shirley, uses the same jokes every time. First, she looks at me with flirty eyes and says, “It’s too bad you’re married. You’re my type.” Next she says, “I didn’t much like your column last week so I’m sticking it to you twice today.” I laughed at this stuff for my first few appointments, but now I have my own joke. When she tells me what a tough day she’s had, I tell her to just go with the flow. I’m not sure how much longer we can keep this up. Probably ’til my LDL goes down.
Shirley says there are two kinds of people in the world: those who watch when the needle goes in and those who don’t. She says those who stare are usually up-tight, aging baby boomers who are control freaks. Ever since she mentioned that, when she sticks me, I tell her what lovely eyes she has or how interesting the clinic ceiling is.
Shirley also likes to sneak in a little medical advice of her own. She tells me Cheerios would be good for raising my HDL. Or was it that Wheaties will lower my LDL? All I know is, she doesn’t think much of Count Chocula and Fruit Loops.
I try not to talk to people in the adjoining cubicles. You never know if there’s someone there with a serious illness. I overheard a patient tell the technician that his doctor said he has hypercholesterolemia. When we walked out together, I gave this stranger a big hug and told him to hang in there and be brave. Then I went home and Googled the term. I’ve had the same thing for 40 years.
How long are you supposed to keep that silly cotton ball and bandage on your arm? I rip it off the second I walk out the door. My wife thinks if you remove the bandage, you jeopardize your health insurance coverage. This is the same woman who waits 20,000 miles to get her first oil change. At her last yearly check-up, she just told the phlebotomist to take off the old bandage and stick her in the same place.
At my last appointment, Shirley confirmed my personal information. “Is that still your correct address? Are you still with Humana Health Care? Are those still the correct emergency numbers?”
“Yes. Yes. And yes.”
“And, finally, is your birth date right: March 5, 1947?”
“Well, I’d rather it was 1967.”
Incredibly, she took her pen and scribbled something on the page.
I walked out of the office on cloud nine. My cholesterol may still be sky high, but I felt 20 years younger.