I Was A Teenaged Phlebotomist

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

Phlebotomy (/fləˈbädəmē/), noun-the surgical opening or puncture of a vein in order to withdraw blood or introduce a fluid, or (historically) as part of the procedure of letting blood.

In junior year of high school, I got a part-time job at the local hospital as a lab secretary.  To pick up extra shifts, I learned how to draw blood.

One day about five or six of us lab folk were working to draw the blood of a rambunctious and terrified little boy.  My job was to hold his arm still.

The phlebotomist who had the needle finally got it in the vein, and the blood started to flow and fill the test tube.  The kid took one look and yanked his arm back.  The needle slipped out, the blood shot out like a super-soaker filled with strawberry Koolade. 

Right into my eye.

Another day I had to draw blood for a gentleman for a test for a social disease.  At the time I was, shall we say, “Sweet sixteen and never been kissed”.  I chuckled to myself thinking it would be a real bummer to accidentally stick myself with his used needle and contract an STD before I’d ever actually had the “S” part of the acronym.

And then I stuck myself.  With the patient’s used needle.

Luckily for both of us, his result came up negative.

Once I got pretty good at the job, a few of the techs thought I should go into the medical profession. 

But, I couldn’t.

Because I’m constitutionally unable to leave the work at work. 

There was this little old lady named Mildred.  She was a pistol, a hoot, and a barrel of laughs.  There first day I met her she told a nurse to purchase a new undergarment, because the body part that should have been restrained, was absolutely not.

But of course, her phrasing was much more colorful and hilarious.

She became my role model for being old.  When I speak my mind and make you laugh, a lot of that is Mildred.  She didn’t have family and almost never had visitors, so I hung out with her during breaks and after work.

But she wasn’t in the hospital for a manicure.  Of course, she wasn’t.

And so, one day, when I went up to her room, it was empty.  A veteran nurse explained to me that you can’t get too close to the patients and continue to work in healthcare—it’ll break your heart.

So, the first chance I got, I got out of healthcare.

But not before I met the Balthus brothers.  Between the two of them they were 847 years old.  And, they were the crankiest, meanest old cusses in Eastern NC.  They were so inseparable they were even hospital patients at the same time.

The lab techs were all tittering and giving each other significant looks the first time I went up to draw their blood.

In their room, I introduced myself, and the abuse began.  As you can imagine, nobody likes to have their blood drawn, so nobody was ever happy to see me.  This antipathy was turned up to 11 with the brothers.

Both men began a string of verbal abuse that continued until I left.  Brother One warned me to get my GD hands off Brother B.  As the needle was about to enter B’s left arm, his perfect right hook got me in my left eye.

I was much more shocked than I was hurt, so I said the first thing that entered my mind.

“Fine!  Then I’m not going to draw your blood!”

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

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