The Nurse

or, "Stuck"

Beware the Ides of March, indeed. The nurse was only reasonably overweight, and her right elbow bore a scar from some surgery. Mandy, I think her name was. Mandy was competent enough and quite pleasant. She looked over my right arm, in search of a good vein, quickly discovering a rich bounty. For mobility’s sake, I suppose, she chose the back of my hand. Upon the placement of a rubber quickie-tourniquet, Mandy nearly jumped back in mock fright at the size of the vein that swelled before her. The nurse in the next station found the whole thing quite amusing. I wanted to get back to my New Yorker.

Mandy opened with little attention a sealed package containing a needle and tubing and such. She prepared herself as we sat in silence. I decided I did not like, but was not bothered by, her smile. “The funny thing is, these,” referring to the vein she was about to stick,” are the ones you miss.” She took a hold of my right hand, which was still turning darker shades of red from the tourniquet, and said, “Ready for a little stick.” She said it as a statement, the way people do when they’re about to do something mildly unpleasant, but unavoidable. I watched the needle go in, recalling my mother’s shock at my doing so, many years before.

Beware the Ides of March, indeed. Mandy, despite Murphy’s Law, did not miss. Like a fan, forced to face a 94-mph fastball, she watched the needle and my vein just too long before realizing she would not, despite any efforts otherwise, be able to stop blood coming out the butt-end of a needle with no tubing. I thought, this will be interesting; I must write about this later. She quickly held down the vein, in vain, but the back of my hand was nevertheless soon colored by that thick red of fresh blood.

I left the hospital three hours later. Mandy had seemed oddly impatient the entire time, and it had made me nervous. Even still, the infusion went well, uneventful. When I got home, I washed my right hand for three minutes, just to be sure that red was gone. I sat down on the living room couch to finish my New Yorker; I realized I already had. It was Tuesday, but I put in a Carpenters CD, turned it to “Rainy Days and Mondays,” sat back, and waited to feel good again. Beware the Ides of March, indeed.


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