Lela is a big fan of literature, and especially short stories.
The Medical Technologist
The Patient Meets His Fate
The vampire draws some blood
I've come to draw some blood, Mr. P | Source
"Good morning, Mr. Page, I need to draw your blood," Carla said as she opened the door to his room."Oh no, it's the vampire again! Whatever do you do with all that blood?" His smile was warm and genuine. Carla made eye contact. It was something she rarely did. Eye contact would reassure the patient. It would also cause her to think of him as something more than just a way to make a living. She walked over to the bedside and began to prepare the needle and tubes that would withdraw the blood. Mr. Page stuck his arm out for her. He was not afraid. Blood had been drawn many times from this man."I guess I've left some of my blood all over the world. Some in places where the atmosphere was not so pleasant as this, like that Turkish bar back in 56'. I was in the Merchant Marines. I guess you won't hurt me as bad as that guy did, huh?" he said. "No, I certainly hope not!" There was something familiar in his eyes. She smiled at him. "Which arm do you want?" he asked her."Oh, either one will do, Mr. Page you don't have to be so formal, even if you are young enough to be my daughter. Call me Henry. What's your name? Carla Lansing," she said. She felt dangerously close to liking this patient. She mustn't get involved. That was Carla's first rule of Medical Technology." Carla Lansing. That almost sounds like a movie star's name," he said. I think there might have been someone famous named Lansing somewhere," she said with a smile. She was almost done with the venipuncture. She noticed the tattoos on his right arm. One, right below the vein on his forearm, was a sailor's anchor. The other one above her needle was a heart inscribed with MARY." Was Mary your girlfriend?" she asked."She was one of them, I guess. I suppose I liked her the best. Met her down in San Diego a long time ago. We sure had some good times then." "Well, I'd better be going. We have to run all of these tests before the doctors start coming around." She showed him the stack of orders yet to be done. I understand. If you get time, come back up and visit. I'll tell you all about Rio de Janeiro!" he said, grinning. Carla walked quickly back down to the lab. "What nerve, him asking me to come back up and visit. I don't know him from Adam. And I'm not going to get to know him either!" she thought. Thinking about Henry bothered her all day.
Thoughts on Vampires
As she worked in hematology, running the Coulter Counter with its mindless repetition, Her mind kept wandering. Push the buttons and the machine sucks up the blood and spits out the results, mindless. She was startled to look down at the tube of blood, she noticed Henry's name on it. Once again, his diagnosis leapt out at her. She read the data on the screen, Henry Page, age 58, room 256, Number 246743, DX: Stage 4 lung cancer.
She thought about what her own life would look like reduced to the confines of a hospital request. Carla Lansing, age 25, birthdate 10/5/58. Really not much. But then what was her life? She was single, working at a job she didn't love. She was good at it and if the truth were known, she would say she enjoyed the lab work.
It was just getting involved with sick people all the time that bothered her. She remembered Deborah, a thirteen-year-old girl that had been so determined to kill herself that she had swallowed over 300 pills. Deborah had been one of her first patients. She died without regaining consciousness. Carla frowned at the memory. Such a loss.
After finishing with the Coulter, she took the blood smears over to be stained. She took her first break of the day. "What's for breakfast, Steve?" she asked another tech. "Oh, let's have eggs Benedict, fresh o.j. and country ham. How about we have room service deliver?" he joked."
"Carla laughed. What they would end up with was runny powdered eggs, burnt bacon and cold toast."
Hospital food was the world's worst.
They walked together to the cafeteria. It was crowded. Some doctors had arrived, they noticed. "Guess we'll have to make this quick. If I know Dr. Upton, he'll be wanting that report on Henry right after he eats."
"Who is Henry?"
"He is a nice man I met on rounds this morning, she answered"
"A budding romance, perhaps?"
"No, nothing like that. He's old enough to be my father. He's just a nice guy, that's all".
They stayed another fifteen minutes.
Carla Begins to Think Like a Vampire
Back at work, Carla sat down at the microscope and began to do the cell counts on the blood smears. She checked the names on the slides against the orders. It was automatic. She read the slide on Mr. Page before she noticed the name. He had a decreased white blood count that would indicate cancer and chemotherapy. At the time, most of the patients on his floor were chemo patients.
"Darn, I hate these low counts," she said to Steve."
"They take forever to do."
Then she noticed the name, "Oh no, it's him!"
"Your friend on the floor?"
"Yes, it looks like he may have cancer."
"What a rotten way to go."
"Yeah, really rotten. He looked pretty healthy, though."
"Maybe he's just getting started with the treatments." Steve offered. "Or, he's coming in for a second round after remission." Carla thought about all the horrors of chemotherapy. Chemicals strong enough to wipe out cancer cells often wipe out healthy cells as well. They make the patient sick to their stomachs. They make their hair fall out. Likewise, they make the patients swell with fluids. They make people unrecognizable. But different people tolerate chemicals differently.
"Maybe Henry won't get very sick." she thought".
Finally, the day was over. She went home to her solitary apartment. Most of the time, she could separate her work from her home life. She could just kick off her shoes, watch television and forget the hospital. Today, however, she remembered Henry.
The Vampire Arrises
© 2022 Lela