I sit in the tiny room with the curtain down the middle and the countertop covered with color-coded vials, where you give blood so they can check your cholesterol and your kidneys and your liver. The pleasant nurse with the mustache is tapping at the vulnerable underside of my elbow, looking for the best vein. I’ve just come from a different little room where I was given a tetanus shot, and I’m feeling like a badass for being brave and getting poked, even though, to tell the truth, I actually hardly felt the needle go in. Another needle’s about to go in, and I’m not great with needles, but I’m pretending I’m not anxious about this one since the tetanus was so easy.
Last week in the hospital, Noni had had so many different IVs that her arms were bruised all up and down. Masses of dark purple and bright red just below her paper-thin skin. When she got her wish and was sent home to die in peace, one of the things I was glad for was that she’d never get poked and prodded again. That for a little while, her body belonged completely to her again.
The pleasant nurse with the mustache hikes the tourniquet around my arm tight. “Happy day,” she says to me, “whatever this day is.”