Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I had to get some blood work done today. My fear level of blood tests is somewhere in between having my eyes stabbed with forks and my arms sawed off. While I have absolutely no fear of the dentist (one dentist told me I was his first patient to actually go to sleep during a root canal), I had some bad experiences with blood tests and IVs as a child that have left me with a sheer terror of anything having to do with needles in my arms. Even though I always eat beforehand, I bring my own "fainting kit" of juice boxes and cookies for the inevitable pass out.

I woke up today and my stomach sank as I realized not ONLY would I be getting blood tests done...but I would be going ALONE and having to deal with the whole process in Frrrrrrrench.

Pack extra juice box.

I was recommended to go a CEF lab in the 14th arrondissement. I walked in, took a number and was immediately called to one of the secretariat desks.

ME: (Silent. Deer eyes.)
ME: (Cricket sounds. Big deer eyes.)

SNAP OUT OF IT! You have been here almost a YEAR. Just LISTEN to what she is SAYING. Listen CAREFULLY instead of just flipping OUT all the time. My GOD, what is WRONG with you!????!?!!!!

ME: Uh....peut etre un peu plus lentement? (maybe a little slower?)

I have to tell you, as she proceeded to raise her volume level to 11 and slowed it down to a mere crawl, I could actually understand her and we got through all the paperwork and information without much of a problem. I now know that yelling at a foreigner really slowly DOES actually make it easier to understand. I used to find this offensive in NY when I'd hear someone yelling at a stranger but I'm 100% DOWN with it now. I wish all of France would yell at me really slowly. With hand gestures.


She gave me a gold colored token and about 65 pieces of paper so I wandered down the hall she had pointed at wondering where to go and what this token was for. Is it for the toilet? Is there a prize? A technician spotted me coming and guided me into one of the saw my arms off/torture rooms. I told her my French was bad and that I have fear. She was very nice, I looked away as she took the needles out, breathed deep breathes and tried to picture the ocean. Sometimes I am able to go to my special place where no one can touch me but today was not one of those days as when I imagined the ocean, I just saw Coney Island with needles all over the beach. OK, forget that.....moving on...California, California, used to live there....picture the beach, the biiiiig beautiful beach....briiiight blue waves....wait what is that in the water? Oh look, it's a school of needlefish jumping into floating arms in the blood red stained waves where sharks have just torn the arms off all the swimmers and everyone is screaming....

OK STOOOOOOP IT!!! And then I feel the old familiar....arms and legs go numb, heart racing, profuse sweating, stars in eyes, ringing in ears...NONONONONONO... you will NOT pass out in a foreign country...NO WAY....pull it TOGETHER NOOOOOOOOOOW.....(trails off)


Pass out.

I wake up and the technician is asking me if I am OK. "Uh...Je ne sens pas tres bien..." She tells me she is going to get me a café which cracks me up as I reach for my fainting emergency juice box kit. Is coffee the French answer to all ailments? And more importantly, does it work? I drink both juice and coffee as she tells me to sit quiet for two minutes. I feel better after five minutes or so, pack my bags and put on my coat to leave. She comes back in and asks me where I am going.
"I'm leaving."
"No no, you have to do the second series of blood tests still."


I'm only HALFWAY done? I hear the waves crashing on Needle Beach already as I mumble "uh...ok" and sink back down into the torture chair.

A second technician comes in, this time a guy with Converse sneakers and punk rock hair. I tell him of my previous pass out (actually all I managed was "I fell down when she takes the blood"), we chat a bit (all French), he finds out I am musician from NY and he starts talking to me about every punk band he knows from there. He's never been to NY and wants to go badly, he learned English from listening to lots of American music. As we sit discussing the genius of Sonic Youth, I don't even notice the needle is already out of my arm and I am finished with series number two. Whoa. I thank him profusely, he says he will myspace me and suggests the next time I just talk about music when I get blood tests.

I'm asking for THAT guy next time.

:) Peace out.


Kelly said...

OK. This post is so funny I had snot coming out of my nose and made my husband listen to me read the entire thing aloud. The broken literal French translations, your inner monologue and neuroses, the insane situations you find yourself in. The only problem was we never found out what the hell the token was for. I hope it was a prize.

KFD said...

Haha, it was actually a token for the coffee machine to get a free coffee between blood tests. I passed out before I used mine but I kept it for the next time. :)

Joe Kissell said...

Oh, thanks so much for this! I had a really bad French day today, and this gave me a much-needed laugh. I've also had to negotiate medical tests in French, and I couldn't feel more sympathetic!

Antonia said...

Haha, great post! I actually had a bit of medical scare earlier this year and the French do indeed love to take your blood, and then give you coffee. I have had to have a bone marrow biopsy too, and it was more coffee. Hope you're alright.

Peggy said...

Brillant! I also pass out when having my blood drawn. I have been trying for years not to but inevitably I go down. Your version with a French twist made it even more hilarious. I also liked the JDFKSDVKDJFBVKDFV JDSV JHV JFDSVBJDVHD? dialogue which never fails to appear over and over again in my world too.

amelie said...

That's impressive... that guy should be given a prize.

And I adore the fact that you said you have fear. I often say that I have fear in English. Or that I have hunger. My friends make fun of me a lot.

Kimberly said...

Dana, I'm walking around right now with a freaking tube coming out of my arm so I can get IV iron for anemia. So glad I don't have to deal with speaking a foreign language on top of everything. You always make me laugh. Thanks for that.

Tomate Farcie said...

No one wearing Converse sneakers can be all that bad, even with a needle in their hands, in a foreign country. Peace out

Michelle said...

It seems coffee is the answer to everything there.

I tagged you for a silly thing in my blog, btw.

jessica said...

you are too funny. it reminds me of my seizure when i got my nose pierced, except it was in english and i still looked like a fool. i do have to say, you seem to always triumph in these interactions my friend!