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On Again ... Off Again

Phlebotomists' Rituals

Have you ever noticed the various rituals and incantations that phlebotomists use? Do they belong to different cults or denominations of the Sacred Society of Phlebotomists?

I went to a doctor's office today and had an encounter there with a pleasant and very kind young woman of the phlebotomist persuasion. Now a brief bit of my personal history will be needed here before we can continue our enquiry.

I have long had an irrational fear of being poked with needles. Injections were tolerated slightly better than extractions -- but either one of them induced a great deal of stress and on occasion was the cause of me fainting in the middle of the procedure.

My wife discovered a strategy to improve the success of these encounters: keep me distracted during the process so I am less aware of the great injustice that is being inflicted upon my body. This works well, and I've trained myself to look away and focus my attention elsewhere during the procedure.

Her medical history is much more voluminous than mine and she has survived certainly several hundred of these procedures, most with only slight and brief pain. She does not cower in fear at the merest hint that a blood sample may be required.

Now back to the rituals and incantations. A very common one is some variation of "is this a good spot?". I sometimes reply with something like "I don't have this done often enough to have enough data to answer that question". Today I was asked "where is a good place?" and my reply was "I've never done this myself so I have no idea." And the rituals: sometimes they apply a rubber strap around my upper arm, sometimes it is "make a tight fist" and other times "relax your arm", today it was "stretch your arm out as straight as you can". Sometimes it gets physical, with the technician slapping or massaging my arm in an attempt to find the best place for their needle. The needle has ended up in the back of my hand, sometimes in the middle of my forearm, sometimes in the crook of my elbow, and possibly even in my upper arm.

My wife, with her greater experience, confidently extends her arm and points to the exact spot that works best. I just want to blurt out "I don't know! You're the professional, why are you asking me?" Hmmm... perhaps I should pay more attention to what they're doing and why -- maybe someday I'll have better responses, and better results.

πŸ“… c: 2024-04-19 09:55 ✏️ e:

🏷 tags: #medical #lessons #attention #avoidance


The Fiftieth December Twentieth

My wife and I sat in our easy chairs at the end of the day and both commented that "today was a very good day". We didn't win the lottery, or welcome a new great grandchild, or even find a lucky penny on the sidewalk. It was, in most respects, rather quotidian. Amanda was here, and Jamie spent the afternoon with us. We prepared cookie trays to give to friends and families. That's really about all that happened that day that's worth mentioning now (two days later).

After agreeing that it was a good day I commented that I have seen about seventy December 20th's come and go and I can't remember anything at all about any of them. Neither of us could call up any memories associated with any of our previous fifth-day-before-Christmas days.

So, I went digging through the archives in my computer to see what was recorded for dates that included "12-20". The oldest record I found on my initial pass through the most accessible material was a few photos that we took (without flash) on December 20, 2002 at a children's Christmas pageant that we attended at our friends' church.

 Photo of pageant
Photo of pageant

Six years later there are three snapshots we took while visiting our daughter and her family in Arkansas, and last year I took a couple of pictures of a batch of oatcakes that I baked on December 20. That's all the photographic memory aids I could find.

It was really easy to find records of purchases we've made on December 20 over the past decade or more: 2012 - $13.49 for a prescription and $2.15 at a fast-food burger place; 2013 - three grocery stores and lunch at another burger place; 2015 - car parts, a dollar store, a membership warehouse store, and a convenience store; 2019 - a grocery store, and my wife got her hair cut; 2021 - two different big-box retailers fifty miles apart, and parking at the airport where we picked up our grandson coming to visit; and 2022 - a gift for our grandson from a local specialty retailer. We live such exciting lives!

Digging deeper I found over two thousand e-mail messages containing "20 Dec" going back to the late 1990s, most from mailing-lists that I've participated in. I did notice that on that date in 2010 I read an article online that was particularly appropriate for one of our grandchildren so I forwarded a link to "Reading, Writing, β€˜Rithmetic and Relationships" to my daughter.

We remember the days our family members were born or died. Great joy or great trauma stand out in our memories, great days don't. Still, it was a very good day, and now we may remember that for even longer.

πŸ“… c: 2023-12-22 12:16 ✏️ e:

🏷 tags: #Christmas #memory #family


Just Don't Buy It!

I've been casually monitoring the COP28 talks and I am more and more becoming convinced that they are primarily for show. Fossil fuel exporting nations won't accept (for good reason, from their perspective) any language in the agreements that includes the phrase "phase out" in relation to fossil fuels. Most other nations insist that such language is crucial to reaching an agreement.

The international agreements are probably important, but let's not lose sight of a crucial fact here. In all these economic transactions there is a producer/seller and a consumer/buyer. Even if the fossil fuel producers won't sign an agreement at some international meeting, the rest of us can certainly just stop buying what they're selling.

Don't let the instransigence of a minority and the showmanship of high-level gabfests distract you. Insist that your own local, regional, and national govermnents take appropriate actions to phase out the use of fossil fuels.

Big oil is too powerful? Stop buying gas from them.

πŸ“… c: 2023-12-12 12:26 ✏️ e:

🏷 tags: #COP28 #StopBuyingGas #DrivingIsSociallyUnacceptable #WalkingWorks #BikesAreNice #RideTheBus



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