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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

So, thanks to my miracle foot pain of no particular explanation, I toddled off this morning to get some blood taken out of my arm and put into a variety of containers, in order for lab technicians to work their mojo magic, examine their crystal balls, throw their bones and roll their dice in order to find out exactly what, if anything, is going on down there. (In my feet.)

Through my life, I had three closely held and well-nurtured phobias: (1) flying, (2) heights and (3) needles. Couldn’t stand any damn one of them and I used to have constant nightmares when I was younger about them, particularly in the run up to anything that would inescapably involve having to participate in facing down one or more of them.

But then, I ridiculously got a boyfriend who lived in a different country to me, and inadvertently began a course of immersion therapy in which I was constantly exposed to having to fly at least twice a month every month for eight months: 16 flights later, and I was able to board a plane with the minimum of fuss (but the maximum of superstitious baggage and sedatives).

Heights still bother me to a degree, although I will now carefully edge my way over to look out of a window if I’m standing on a fifth floor or above (but still can’t venture out on to balconies - I think my urge to hurl myself over edges is still a bit too strong).

Needles were my final nemesis. But then I remembered I’ve got two tattoos, and that needles aren’t scary, and so I’m all about the invincibility now.

However, I still have a slight problem, in that my veins don’t realise I’ve recovered from the phobia, and they still faint dead away at the sight of a hypodermic. I have what is known in the business as “weak” veins, easily collapsible, and the main reason I will never make a good heroin addict. As such, I’m routinely used as a pincushion by phlebotomists, who usually go twice in the left arm, three times in the right arm and then return in despair to the left arm before any blood is actually extracted. On one memorable occasion, it had to be pulled out of my foot.

So yesterday morning I was very much looking forward to being prodded and poked, mainly because at the end of it all I would have a nice selection of fabulous bruises, all the better to freak people out with, and maybe even get some money if I pretend to have an illness and they organise an impromptu fundraiser in order to send me to Disneyland before I die. But no such luck.

I sat and waited for 20 minutes and then my number - we were given numbers, it was like some kind of sick raffle - was called, and I went to receive my prize. The nurse didn’t look at me as I sat down, and I tried to start up some kind of small talk which she steadfastly ignored and, almost without warning, jammed a needle into my arm, whipped out some blood and strapped some cotton wool on. Looking at me for the first time, she said “leave that on for about five minutes.” I started laughing.

She finally looked interested, and cocked an eyebrow at my obviously weird response. I told her no one had ever been able to do that before, that I’d been told since I was really young that I had bad veins.

“You have very good veins,” she said, “very good. They just didn’t know what they were doing.”

I’d like to nominate that lady for a knighthood, please.

So, disappointingly, I’ve only got a slight bruise, about the size of a 10p piece on my arm, instead of the entire-length-of-forearm marks I usually get after blood tests. On the tube on the way home, I had my MP3 player turned up a little too loudly. A very loud moment in the song pitched up, causing me to violently shudder as one of my ear drums came close to bursting, and I shook my head to move the headphones slightly. The woman standing next to me looked over, looked at me oddly, then looked at my arm, and then back at my face, and then down at her feet. From her expression, I take it I looked at that moment like a very unusual junkie. Hoorah.

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