(photo courtesy of stock.xchang)
During Aircrew School optimum health was imperative and medical tests were routine. One day of screening, we were instructed to 'fast'. By the time we were to be poked and prodded, I was starving! Up next for the blood draw and deathly afraid of needles, I nervously sat down in the metal chair next to my friend Chester, the Marine.
“Check ‘er ought, Maki, that there needle’s hew-wedge!” I shot him an evil look. “It’s made fer uh Hol-stein!”
“Shut up, Chester.” The needle penetrated my perfectly sealed flesh. Damn it hurt. Stupid corpsmen. He appeared too happy.
“I’m serious, Maki. That there’s the biggest darn needle I’ve dun ever seen.
“Shucks,” he attempted to sound excited, but his slow, Louisianan drawl was unconvincing. “My blood’s all squirtin’ ever-ware.”
Think about something else. I’m on a beach. I attempted to distract myself. I was doing a decent job until the corpsman began carving a cavern inside my arm. I looked at his eyes- avoiding my arm.
“Problems?” I winced.
“I can’t… seem to hit… your vein...”
Waves are crashing. I am on a peaceful beach. I said a peaceful beach, dammit! It was all enough to make me want to vomit.
Then, it came. The feeling was not a stranger to me. Immediately, I tried to shake it and regain focus of something. Anything. I squinted my eyes. Find a focal point.
“Whoa, Maki, yer face is as white as a gator’s tooth. You uh-kay?”
My vision tunneled. The corpsman continued to dig away in my flesh. I heard everything, but it was hollow and distant. “I’m… not doing… too… well…” my voice trailed off. At last the corpsman, not a master of the obvious, realized that his inexperienced excavating job was affecting me severely.
I knew I was going to pass out soon if I didn’t do something quickly, but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself in front of all the guys. If I just do it quietly in my chair, no one will notice.
“Airman, you need to put your head between your legs!” The corpsman yelled off in the distance.
I protested. Surely there was another way… And then... there was darkness.
Seconds later, I came to- lying on the floor. The corpsman and Chester were both standing over me. I laughed. Poor lanky Chester... I wonder if he’ll ever find a wife... I miss my cat...
I caught a glance of my arm. A needle and syringe were sticking out of it, blood trickling out, completely covering my arm with dark fluid. I mumbled, “Can I get… another… corpsman?” And then… blackness. Again.
*The previous is a piece from the book What They Don't Teach You in Deer River. For those that aren't as familiar with the military- you are much of a practicing bed for the corpsmen in training.