This morning I got my blood drawn by a lovely technician at the local Qwest Diagnostic Laboratories. I only went to a Qwest one time before my move to NYC. Shortly thereafter I switched doctors and because of that blessed switch I never had to go someplace else to get my blood drawn. My last doctor’s office in Philadelphia was one stop shopping. It was perfect. Now, every time I have to get blood taken, I remember my first time.
When I got hired full-time, at the law firm I was temping at, I was I was so excited. I finally had medical and dental insurance (ah, the life of an actor). I scheduled my first physical in years. I felt like such a grown up. “Mommy wow, I’m a big kid now!” My doctor performed all kinds of general tests. I kind of felt like a guinea pig. At the end of the physical, she asked me when I was last last tested for HIV. I was embarrassed to say that it was years prior. She promptly drew blood and we scheduled an appointment two weeks later.
As soon as I walk into the office, for the follow-up appointment, I was whisked into an exam room. At that moment I had a sinking feeling. I just knew. I could read it all over her face. My doctor quickly told me that I was indeed positive. The world went silent. She awkwardly hugged me. The kind of hug you give someone you don’t really like but you are obligated to do so. You know the ones with the, pat pat pat on the back. I was then told to go sit in the lobby. As soon as I sat down I reached for my phone and sent a one line text to Corb “I tested positive.” I felt like I had to tell someone to help get this weight off my shoulders. As soon as Corb responded “WHAT? Are you ok?” my doctor appeared. She explained to me, in the lobby, in front of everyone, the things I have to do. Get blood drawn. Call the specialist. I just stared at her blankly. She wrote it all down.
I grabbed my man purse and left. They offered no counseling. No anything. I made a quick call to Corb to assure him that I was ok and the the next thing I knew I was at the reception desk at Quest Diagnostics. I don’t remember how I got there. I was on autopilot for about 10 blocks.
Having blood drawn is a piece a cake for me now and oddly enjoyable. I have been complimented on the size of my veins on my many occasions and by many different people. I love to make the Nurse/Technician laugh and most of the time they love me. This was not the case during my first time. Much like sex, my first time having blood drawn was painful, embarrassing, and full of judgment. I don’t know what exactly I was expecting. Maybe a little comfort. Maybe a little compassion. How was she to know that my word was just turned upside down? How was she to know that her DMV demeanor she would make me like less of a person than I was already feeling and at that moment, that was a hard feat to accomplish. She filled one vile after another barely looking at me. After she was finished I thought at least I would get a cookie, like after giving blood, but no such luck. I was just shown the door. What now. I decided to go into work. I thought that this would help me find the escape I so desperately needed. Oh Yes, I was thinking clearly. (I am using sarcasm to make my point)
The rest of the day is a blur. I do remember being consumed with the need to tell everyone who I had had any sexual contact with or at least everyone that I remembered. Instead of surfing Friendster at work, I sat at my desk and drafted several emails to all boys I’ve loved before, who traveled in and out my door. And surprisingly most of their responses were very supportive and sweet. This made it harder and harder to keep from becoming a puddle at my desk. After the letters were all sent out, I tried, I really tried to focus on work. I couldn’t. The remainder of the day consisted of me staring out the window and sighing. At one point, after seeing my vacant expression and my willingness to do nothing, I was even reprimanded by a coworker. Exactly what I needed. (I again turn to the great art of sarcasm)
One would hope that after a day like that, you could go home and cry, yell, or more importantly drink yourself into oblivion. Alas, I was stuck in tech rehearsals. As anyone knows who has done any kind of stage performance, tech rehearsals are the most tedious things you have to endure. This particular production and tech rehearsal was more tedious than anything that I have ever experienced. First, it wasn’t your typical musical. It was a new musical. Secondly, it was a new musical at college. The only reason I was there was because I was being paid quite handsomely to be a ringer. Thirdly, this particular college did not have theatre majors. That should clue you in on the caliber of talent I was working with. Lastly, I won’t actually divulge the name of said musical but I will tell you the premise: it was the prequel to Moby Dick. Seriously. I couldn’t make that shit up.
Instead of crying, screaming, drinking and being consoled by friends, I spent my night contemplating life, death and everything in between in a sailor’s costume listening to wretched singers butcher an even more wretched score, dancing around in a daze of epic proportions.
These are some of the thoughts that run through my mind when I am filling vile after vile at my local Qwest Laboratory. Other times I think, why can’t Bill Compton or better yet, Eric Northam ever be the one to draw my blood? To be honest I would even be happy to give it over to Pam!