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This Time Was Different

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I've been used to having my blood drawn monthly for years. I've never been afraid, only annoyed when I knew I could have done a better  job.

It was different this time. I sat shivering in the sterile, turquoise, padded, chair. This was no normal blood draw, this draw could mean life or death.

I watched her every move, not out of casual observance, but out of questioning and fear.

The lab tech fumbled around searching for a rubber tube to tie around my bicep. As she did, a single tear fell from my right eye.

"Are you ok dear?"

"Yes, I've had blood drawn almost monthly for years. It must just be my contact."

She went about gathering the tubes, needle, and an alcohol patch. When she found her items, my heart began to beat more quickly, the room began to spin, and darken. I felt a touch on my shoulder, "Teri, breathe, it's going to be ok, just breathe."

I inhaled deeply and, with the oxygen I pulled into my lungs, the light returned, the room normalized, and I was more stable than before.

I watched as she wrapped the tubing around my arm, and as she tore open the packet that contained the gauze soaked in alcohol.

I began to feel lightheaded once more and turned to the right, I could no longer watch. I  deepened my breathing. I then felt the coolness of the alcohol on my skin, and a tiny sting.

Within seconds, within an eternity, it was over. She had three tubes, containing crimson fluid that had once flowed through my veins, in her hands and set them aside. A gauze pad was placed on my arm where the needle had been inserted, and it was secured with paper tape.

I stared at the tubes knowing any of the three could be a death sentence. My head was spinning, my world was spinning. My thoughts were consumed, not only with my own mortality, but with my friends, my family and everything in between.

"Teri, you look rather pale. I'd prefer it if you would sit here for a minute or two."

I didn't have enough energy to challenge her on the subject. I settled into the chair, leaned my head against the hard, concrete wall, and breathed slowly, and deeply.

After a bit, she  released me to go on my way. I was on my way to wait days for the results, agonizing days.

About a week had passed and a nurse called. She quickly said said, "Teri, we have one of the tests back and it's positive. You need to come in as soon as possible."

I dropped my phone and it fell to the stone floor. Tears flowed from my eyes. I put my head on the island and cried as never before. I didn't think of the other tests, or their potential results, I just mindlessly cried. It was if the tears would, themselves, wash away the reality of the results I'd just received.

I pulled myself together to make needed calls, and after I crumbled onto the bed, I cried until I slept.


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