At the time, I was just three years old. My mom, the doctor, and me. The doctor approached me with the flu shot in her hand, and I squirmed in my seat. She got the shot ready, and gently took my arm. I squeezed my eyes shut and waited... I yanked my arm away just as the needle entered my arm. I had not gotten the shot, but I felt a small pain, like a pinch. My mom nudged me back towards the doctor for me to get my flu shot. This time, I didn’t run away, and the needle entered my arm and came out without any protest.
I squeezed my eyes shut. That wasn’t going to happen this time, I promised myself. Even though that had been eight years ago, that memory haunted me, and even though I could get a shot without getting freaked out, the idea of small pains from needles still made me flinch, so a blood test was exactly what I didn’t need.
“I have to get a blood test?” I asked my mom.
“Yes, they are going to do some blood work, and you can be tested for Coronavirus antibodies.” I groaned. I hadn’t gotten a blood test for as long as I could remember, but I knew that I had had one when I was a baby. My stomach turned and I tasted bile forming in my mouth. Was I going to throw up? I gulped. I closed my eyes and counted to three. Better.
I trudged over to the couch and plunked down. My mom sat next to me and put her arm around my shoulders. Her medium length brown hair tickled my neck. She stroked my hair. Her serene presence always seemed to relax me when I needed it most. I sighed. I was glad to have her around. I should feel fortunate, I thought. I was lucky to be getting a COVID-19 test.
“Well,” I said, mustering courage. “No time to worry about this now.” I masked my worry with a smile and marched out of the room.
The following day, Jamie tried and tried to assure me that it would be nothing.
“It barely hurts, besides, blood is cool!” my brother exclaimed! I sighed. My brother loves the way his blood looks, and he has had many blood tests because of his allergies and asthma. This was no different for him I thought. He smiled. I frowned.
That morning, my parents had gone to get their tests. My mom tried to tell me there was nothing to worry about.
“You don’t have to look, and once the needle is in, it doesn’t hurt,” she assured me. “All you have to do is hydrate, before.”
“What?” I asked, confused.
“I wasn’t hydrated enough, so when they took the blood test, they had to switch arms because no blood was coming out of the first arm.” I groaned. That didn’t help at all! I imagined the nurse sticking the needle in all over my arm, trying to find a satisfactory vein. Millions of tiny pricks of pain all over my arm. I shuddered.
We walked to the doctor’s for our checkups during the afternoon, so the hot summer sun was high in the sky. My mask rubbed up against my face and tickled my nose. The sun’s rays burned on my back.
We had to wait our turn when we got to the doctor’s office, and the hard plastic chairs that we sat on were cool against my bare legs.
When it finally came time for me to take my blood test, I walked, timidly to a room with two chairs. A counter with various medical supplies and tools took up half of the room. I looked around and sat down in one of the chairs. My mom sat next to me. She gripped my hand and whispered in my ear.
“It will be ok. Nothing awful will happen.” I felt goosebumps forming on my arms. Was the air conditioning on too much? A large amount of saliva collected in my mouth. I swallowed. I glanced around the room again. Everything was a shade of white - The counter, the shelfs, the chairs, the floor, the wall. I frowned with distaste. I heard the footsteps of nurses and doctors in the hall. Then, the nurse entered the room.
A surge of panic rushed through my body. I tried to keep the panic down, but the best I could manage was following her directions without any protest. The nurse tied a band on my arm and located a favorable vein in the bend of my arm. She inserted the needle in my arm, and my blood flowed out. Despite my mom’s advice about not looking at my own blood, I stared, mesmerized by the steady stream. The nurse finally took the needle out after what seemed to be forever, and she fastened a piece of gauze to the injection site.
“Do you feel light headed?” she asked. I shook my head. I felt my arm gently. I recoiled my hand. My mom touched my hand.
“It wasn’t so dreadful, was it.” My mom stated. I rolled my eyes. I guess she was right about it not hurting.The doctor entered the room with the q tip and the container for my COVID19 test. He talked to my mom for a little bit before giving me the COVID19 test. I watched him with beady eyes, one eye on the q tip in his hand.
“This will be a little uncomfortable,” he said. I nodded and sat up straighter. This wasn’t going to hurt I thought. I gripped the edge of the seat and got ready. He gently put the q tip up my nose and counted to three for both nostrils. The inside of my nose tingled, and my eyes watered, even though the q tip hadn’t gone up my nose that far.
“See,” my mom said. “That wasn’t so rough.” I nodded my head in agreement.
I walked by myself to the waiting room while Jamie had his appointment. My arm felt a little sore and uncomfortable, but that was all.
As we walked home, I felt silly for being so scared of the blood test. It wasn’t going to hurt me, and, just like my brother and mom had told me, it hadn’t hurt. Besides, I knew that getting these tests would make my family a lot more comfortable with the pandemic, and the COVID-19 test would help New York State keep track of the Coronavirus cases in the state. I had assured myself this was for the greater good, but overcoming my own personal fear made me realize that I had also done this for myself.
I looked beside me. My mom and Jamie were talking and laughing. My mom noticed me looking at them, but not saying anything. “Are you ok?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said with a bright smile. And I meant it.