An Op-Ed by Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Juarez, while awaiting his bi-annual HIV blood draw.
Listen, HN3 Jones. I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job, but I can see your hands are shaking a bit as you’re preparing that needle and supplies to draw my blood. How about you take a deep breath or two and just relax for a minute. I know that you spent months training to do this and it will be fine.
Oh, not months? Phlebotomy is just a two-day course? You just checked in from the schoolhouse too, eh? I see.
All folks deserve a chance to learn their job through hands-on work, and I wish you all the best in your career, I do. However, the last time I came in, a fellow HN3 of yours stabbed the needle through my vein and into my bone.
The experience left me vomiting in pain on the floor.
The time before that, I was trying to donate blood for the clinic’s drive for our deployed warriors. I’m O-Negative, which you are in desperate need of, so despite my misgivings based on past experience, I came in right away. A fellow HN3 of yours spent 15 minutes poking the needle into my arm in different places and wiggling it around trying to get the blood to flow. Not only did she fail to get more than five drops of blood, but she left my arm so bruised, the next morning my CO asked if my boyfriend was abusing me.
Back in April, after four months of calling to make an appointment, only to be told it was Shipmate Day or Admiral So-and-so’s birthday picnic or that the clinic was closed for training, I finally was able to get an appointment for some blood work. The only slot available was two days before my PFT, unfortunately, because the technician messed up both arms so badly that I could only manage three agonizing, barely valid pull-ups, instead of my usual 25.
So, based on that history, I would like to respectfully ask that maybe your most senior HN1, or perhaps a vascular surgeon, could come draw my blood.
Oh, they aren’t available? I think I will actually just take my chances with HIV then.