I’m a needle-phobe.
I was a Ranger at Camp Jewell the summer before I started college and the campus health center came calling. They sent notice in the form of a blank immunization record: I was due for a tetanus booster.
The camp nurse shuttled me off to the local doctor. I accompanied a nine-year-old with her arm in a sling and a fourteen-year-old with a head cold who never lowered the hood on his sweatshirt. I was the stand-in counselor, responsible for the kids’ IDs, paperwork, and behavioral supervision. That I just so happened to require my own medical attention was gravy.
The doctor took the kids first, leaving me to sweat it out in the waiting room, surrounded by trucks with three wheels and a Fisher-Price animal sounds spinner toy that was stuck on the sheep’s baaa. The Colebrook Family Practice collection of communal hand-me-downs. I sorted pieces of mixed-up puzzles into their rightful boxes, pretending it could distract me from the dreadful needle anticipation.
By the time I got my turn in the exam room, I’d gotten myself all worked up. The doctor opened the door and my chin began to tremble. He snapped my college admission health form to his clip board and I flinched. He prepared the syringe and I started to cry . . . and continued to cry as he administered the jab . . . and continued to cry as he applied a bandage and I threaded my sore arm back into the sleeve of my sweatshirt.
The doctor made his notes and signed my form and stepped out of the room. Before the door swung closed behind him, he glanced over his shoulder at me. I had blotted my tears with a shredded tissue and was fanning my face with both hands, hoping to look less pitiful when I faced the campers outside.
“I guess we don’t have to worry about you shooting up,” he said.
It was the first and last thing he said to me.
He was dead on, though. Intravenous drug abusers must be on crack.
Wait, is crack an intravenous drug?