If Only

If I had more focus

there’s no doubt

I could get a little more done

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Sister Lee in the Vampire Club

That last freckle on the bottom? Not really a freckle.

This blog comes with a proviso.  If by some freak accident, my good friend JJ has stumbled upon this blog I must ask that you stop reading.  Ignore your excitement for finding my blog and do not read any further.  Seriously.  Go look at IMDB or the entertainment tab under MSN. 

The blog is acceptable for the rest of you readers.

J-Girl is a super smarty-pants.  I think she realized after our third conversation that she is smarter than me.  Of course, it took me a little longer for me to connect the dots.  But I eventually did.  She is like a sponge, absorbing information in the smallest of details.  “What’s that?” she’d ask when she heard an unfamiliar word.  I have discovered that a sign of true intelligence is to confess ignorance.  The rest of us fake it and pretend we know.  I rarely know.  But I pretend I do.

Four years ago, our school district initiated a Health Academy for High School students.  The students are on a medical focused track all during high school.  It’s intended for students who want to go into a medical field of study and helps jump start their collegiate career.  J-Girl is in its inaugural class which is getting ready to graduate.

In her impressive list of med-focused classes is Phlebotomy.  In order to pass the class, she needs 30 successful blood draws from human beings.  Keep in mind, these are high school students

About a month ago, we were driving home from a church function.  “Sister Lee and Sister D. you should come in and let me draw your blood,” J-Girl asked cheerfully from Felix’s middle seat.  “I need 50 draws before I graduate.”   Suddenly, fifty sounded like such a big number.  Right up there with a million.

Sister D, being the awesome person she is, agreed.  Although she did need to find out some additional information first.

I wouldn’t say I ever actually agreed to it.  More like I was carried downstream in the rapidly moving river.  Straight to the plunging waterfall.

Here’s the thing.  It’s not that I’m afraid of needles.  That would be ridiculous.  I’m not afraid.  I just don’t like them very much when they insist on poking me.  It hurts to be poked.  Now for a confession, I’ve never donated blood.  At first, I didn’t weigh enough.  But it’s been quite a few years since that excuse has been plausible.  When I tell that story, the response I get involves eyeballs scanning me from head to toe.   I know that’s not the case now but when I tell a story I like to start at the beginning.

I have the best of intentions to become a donor.  But then I start thinking about needles and being poked.  My poor mom’s arms were always one big bruise after she visited the doctor.  What if my veins are like my mom’s?  Playing hide-and-seek with a needle does not sound like a fun game to me.  My dad, however, has the kind of veins that bring out the inner-Dracula in nurses.  If I had veins like him, it wouldn’t be a problem.

Last year, my friend JJ was in a college Phlebotomy class.  She had the same requirement to pass the class as J-Girl.  But I could say no to her pretty good.  “Please, I need 50 draws,” she begged.  Nope.   Apparently, my friendship has boundaries.

So, I felt a little guilty when I walked into the high school last Friday.  I intended on helping out the last two Fridays but J-Girl wasn’t in school.  It was my not so secret hope that she would get fifty before I could get there.  Nope.  I bribed Bubba to join me.  She didn’t really need to be bribed, though.  If the Health Academy would have started a year sooner she would have been in it.  And I would have found myself in the same situation a year earlier.

We walked into the oversized classroom/lab and all eyes focused on us.  It was a bit unnerving as the eyes drifted to our forearms.  I felt like we had just stumbled into a vampires’ lair.  Fortunately, I only know J-Girl.  Bubba wasn’t so lucky.  She ended up giving one draw to another student.  But she let J-Girl draw her other arm.

Prior to coming in, I kept tabs on J-Girl’s numbers.  She received several texts from me asking how close she was to fifty.  Apparently, my thinly disguised attempt at humor to hide my apprehensiveness made her slightly nervous.  I feel bad about that.

I sat in the chair and she did my left arm first.  It was an easy draw with no problem.  I call it my dad arm because the vein bulged waiting to be poked.  As she put a band-aid on the puncture she explained, “I only need 30 draws to graduate but if I get 50 then I can get a job as a phlebotomist.  I figure it beats working at McDonalds.”  Uh, yeah.  Let’s see, my first job was at K-Mart.  I thought it was pretty cool when I could announce the blue light specials over the intercom.  Plus, I thought I was rich when I started at ten cents above minimum wage.  Just another confirmation that J-Girl is bit smarter than me.

My right arm however, was a little different.  I refer to it as my mom arm.  J-Girl felt the vein but hesitated.  She asked a classmate for a second opinion.  Then asked for another opinion.  “This vein is hiding,” she explained.  “Maybe I shouldn’t do it.”

“You can do it,” I said.  “What’s the worst that can happen?”

She wasn’t convinced.  “If you get this, you will be a great nurse,” I said.  Then I held my breath and hoped she’d get the draw.  I didn’t know if I’d be able to console her if she missed. 

She got the draw. 

The good news for all of us is that J-Girl will make an excellent nurse.  Not only is she a super smarty-pants but she’s also humble and always willing to learn.  Her humor will ease her future patients’ worries.   While her compassion and empathy will help her serve everyone under her charge.  I have no doubt J-Girl will succeed in whatever she chooses to do.

She got me in the chair, didn’t she?  But shhh, don’t tell JJ.

Bubba Taz Graduates!

Bubba Taz graduated from high school today.  Don’t worry, my niece’s birth name isn’t actually Bubba.  She acquired her nickname from her dad when she was about two.  Her attitude has always been bigger than her stature; she looks like the antithesis of a typical Bubba.  Taz was given to her by her grandma who thought she had the energy of the Tasmanian Devil.  For 15 years, she has proudly answered to the name Bubba Taz.

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