Nursing Me

By: Kelly Oxford

“Okay, are you ready?”

“No,” I whisper. “Never.”

“On the count of three, do not move. Breathe out, hard. One. Two. Three.”

On the count of three, my nurse slides the needle into my forearm. Stepping on an electrical plug hurts more than this, I tell myself, but it is still gross. A sharp object piercing into my body, directly into a vein? No thank you, I’ll never be ready. No, never.

“Damn, It blew.” I feel the needle exit my flesh. 

“Hold on, I need to grab gauze.”

I look down at my inner forearm and see a lump forming quickly under my skin. A thin line of blood trickles and drops onto the jute rug below. The nurse turns back around and pushes the gauze hard onto the lump in my arm. 

“Sorry. Your veins are tricky. We call people like you a hard stick.”

He tries again. And again. And again. I’m numb mentally at this point. I’m thinking about eating onion rings while standing waist-deep in some tropical waters. 

I hear him whisper, “She has no blood.” Then a prayer is said on the seventh try, “Please God, let us see blood.”

I think, Amen, but I left my body minutes ago and I remain in the ocean with an onion ring. Not beer-battered.

“There, it’s in. It flushed. It’s in. Thank you, God.” I smile at the nurse, sweating over his N95 mask. “Always use this vein, right here, it’s your only good one.”

All I can hear is the clicking sounds of my cats walking around. The nurse and I sit in silence as the drip goes in. “You know, I was Elizabeth Taylor’s nurse.”

My soul returns to my body. The onion ring vanishes. This feels like the gift of the magi. He smiles and I admire his kind eyes and good dental work. Such generosity of information, likely a token for all of the missed IV lines. But I’m thrilled. “Really?”

“Yes, for a long time.”

“Can you tell me anything about her?”

“She drank Burnett’s peach vodka martinis all day.”


I make a mental note to buy Burnett’s peach vodka. Then I look at the arm with the green lump of blood under it. 

The nurse unhooks my line and packs up his things. “Have you ever had a peach martini?” he asks as I walk him to the door. 

I shake my head, “I have not. Would a few of those make my veins a better stick?” I joke, and his perfect veneers vanish, and his kind eyes look at me seriously, “No, never.”