Living Columns & Blogs

No matter how old you are, you can be scared of needles

In this 2015 file photo, a patient has her blood drawn at a hospital in Philadelphia.
In this 2015 file photo, a patient has her blood drawn at a hospital in Philadelphia. AP Photo

I dropped in at my doctor’s office for a routine check-up. During the blood work phase, I braced myself for the needle.

Why should I, at my age, be apprehensive over such a simple procedure? Yet, as the needle is applied, I always look away, reading a poster on the wall or silently reciting the birth order of my nine brothers.

I felt the prick of the needle, practically painless, and breathed a sigh of relief, thinking, “She knows her business.”

I complimented her skill, as I always do when the procedure is successfully concluded.

It has not always been so painless. I’ll never forget one episode when the lab technician probed and probed in search of a prominent vein with me wincing all the way.

It’s true that my veins are not as prominent as those of a weight lifter or an Oregon lumberjack. After all, I’ve spent a working career behind typewriters and computers. Journalism is not a biceps-building profession.

On that memorable blood-letting day, the frustrated lab tech yelled across the lab to two other workers, “O Lordy, will somebody come here and help me? This man ain’t got no blood!”

Another person came over and painlessly withdrew the blood.

Trump is one of a kind

No matter if you’re a Donald Trump fan or not, you’ll have to admit that he’s a showman of the first order. One of a kind.

What would the TV networks do without him? The vast majority of newscasts and panel discussions include some footage on Trump, who is the most provocative president of my lifetime.

Trump’s very visage invites controversy. It reminds me of writer Flannery O’Connor’s description of a woman getting on a bus in her short story, “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” O’Connor wrote, “Her face was set not only to meet opposition but to seek it out.”

Furthermore, it is my humble opinion that any politician who lifts his eyes to the heavens and declares on TV that God has personally chosen him to lead the nation out of its wilderness of problems will bear watching carefully.

Requiem for a bird

Apparently, the bird, a radiantly red cardinal, had flown from the bird feeder into the screen on the porch. Severely wounded, it lay gasping for breath on the brick patio.

My solicitous wife carefully placed a few bird seeds in front of the injured bird. It managed to stir itself long enough to eat a few grains but died soon after. Later I saw my wife at the edge of the lawn burying the deceased bird under a blooming shrub.

I did not hear her singing a song of farewell, as was the case when some years ago a Chapel Hill friend recounted how her young son came in for lunch after playing with friends in the back yard. The mother asked what they had been doing.

“We played funeral,” the boy said, explaining that they had found a dead bird and had conducted a full-fledged funeral for it.

Asked to describe the funeral, the son said, “Well, we dug a little grave and we put the bird in it and covered it up. Then we found a big rock for a tombstone. And then we sang a song.”

“And what did you sing?” the mother asked.

“We sang ‘We Don’t Give a Damn for Duke University’ because that’s the only song we all knew.”

A look at the past

Bob Sadur, former New Jersey resident now living in Morrisville, and I were comparing today’s growing-up years with ours.

“I am a retired electrical engineer, so I am comfortable with all of today’s modern toys, “ Bob wrote. “ However, just going out to play, not knowing where you would have lunch, or what time you would go back home was such happiness, so simple, such fun.

“When my five children would ask, ‘What did you do as a kid?’ my wife and I would tell them, ‘ We just sat around waiting for television to be invented.’”

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