Brace up. This isn’t for the faint of heart.

When I was in my early twenties I worked in hospital labs. I was what is known as a phlebotomist. A phlebotomy is a procedure whereby a needle is inserted into a vein and a blood sample is withdrawn. I know, its icky. It also involves all manner of other sample collection which I won’t go into right now because face it, lunch is coming and I don’t want to spoil it for you. I was doing it because it beat bagging groceries for a living and I was in college to become a medical laboratory technician. That’s the person who performs the tests on the blood. Well, on the way to certification I figured working in a lab as a phleb (pronounced ‘fleeb’) would be good for me and my career and it was. And it was like five bucks an hour over minimum wage which was 2.80 or something—do the math on that one and ‘date’ me if you like.

Besides, there are a lot of girls around a lab. I was young and single and twentyish and I had definitely landed on my feet. Don’t get that look on your face. They all mothered me to no end. Three fourths of them had kids my age so, extrapolate from there. It was cookies and lab coat mending and all of that motherly love they had to vent because their own kids were in college. It didn’t hurt that I was studying to be ‘one of them’ either. Because of that I learned a great deal about the lab and I loved it. I let them mother me and I did my job and I was pretty good at it. ( I loved the lab as a career for a long time before I became a stay at home Dad.)

In spite of all that, it all seems to have faded a bit. One particular event, though, sticks in my mind even though it has been nearly twenty years ago. I was pulling an evening shift which I was often wont to do. I’d work at any time and, being single, I didn’t care how long a shift or what time of day or night I just needed the money. (I COULD work a 60 hour week back then, I.e., I wouldn’t die if I did it.) And it was clean—most hospitals are at least that. It was air conditioned and in spite of the blood and the other unmentionable things that came through the lab, it was a good job. Pretty much any nasty thing that a hospital can produce can be tested, cultured, or otherwise examined upon a physician’s order and most things can yield up information that can help with diagnosis and treatment of whatever ails you. Like I said, it’s icky.

…to be continued


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