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  • Paul Davidson

Nurses & Needles

If you’ve ever gotten a shot from a nurse, then you’ve also probably experienced the most annoying, non-comforting thing ever.

It’s that moment when you’ve sat down, the nurse has prepared your arm with the iodine swab and they’re about to give you a shot. But you haven’t seen the needle. It’s on a metal tray on a rolling stand that’s right behind the nurse so you can’t see it. You crook your head, the nurse moves to block your view. You try to stand up, she tells you to sit back down. She taps your arm, then says:

“You may want to look away while I give you the shot.”

Now, I dont’ know about you, but when I’m freaking out about having a sharp metal rod jammed deep into my pink, lustrous flesh — the last thing I want to hear from the nurse is that I’d better turn my head away and not look at what they’re gonna be jamming into my arm… Why, I wonder. What is it about THIS needle inparticular that I don’t want to see?

Then the visuals plague my head. It’s one of those long needles that Uma Thurman got jammed into her chest in Pulp Fiction. It’s got a sharp end that looks like an animal tranquilizer. It’s so long that if she were to jam it into my arm all the way it would come out the other side. These are not fun visuals to have. And so I ask…


Then of course you get the nurse trying to come up with stories about previous patients and how they looked and it made them tense up and that’s what makes giving a shot really hard, the moment when you flex your muscles in your arm and how by flexing your muscles while you get a shot can cause blood to squirt OUT into the needle thus backing it up and causing a poential virus under your skin that may not be the best direction to go…

Again, not a comforting story, but then again when was any nurse comforting? So, I say:

“Oh. So I can’t flex my muscles?”

I look down and see my arm twitching. You know the one. Your eye, your upper arm — that twitch you have no control over. Now I worry that just the involuntary twitching is going to cause my arm to flex and then blood squirts out, into the needle, causing the infection and eventually the lopping off of my arm in surgery.

“So, I’d like to get this over if you’d just look away. OK?”

I look her in the eyes, wondering if maybe she has a puppy at home and she’s not as Nurse Ratchety as I believe her to be by the huge-soled white sneakers and the hair in a bun.

“I’d prefer to watch, if that’s ok with you,” I say.

She looks at me, without saying anything, and nods. Inside, she’s frustrated with the guy who won’t just let her give him the goddamn shot and let her get back to her crossword puzzle. (Not the TV Guide Crossword Puzzle which is damn easy, but the New York Times puzzle, which is impossible.)

She reaches around to get the needle and I finally see it. It is a tiny, mini-needle that doesn’t look like it could even be a bulliten board push pin. I am relieved and say:

“That doesn’t look bad at all!”

She smiles as she jams the thing into my arm and I feel a rush of pain worse than the time I slammed my finger in a car door. I feel pain worse than the time I smashed head-on into a parked car on my bicycle. I feel such horrible pain that watching an episode of Joe Millionaire 2 pales in comparison.

I will forever seek psychological help for my current fear against multi-colored, bulliten board push-pins.

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