Thursday, November 02, 2006

Not For The Squeamish

by Kristine Coblitz

When I was a freshman in college, I accompanied my mom and some family friends to a local restaurant where we had dinner and paid $20 for a private session with a fortune teller. I went with an open mind and curiosity about what this woman would tell me. I admit I was also looking for some answers about where my life was heading since I’d just signed up for ten years of college loan payments.

A few of the things this woman touched upon were accurate, and some future predictions actually came true. She was dead wrong about one thing, however, and that was when she told me that I would end up being a nurse.

When I told my mom about her prediction after my session, she laughed and told me I should ask for my $20 back.

I admire anyone who can handle the medical profession. I’m not one of those people, especially because I have a tendency to pass out at the sight of blood. Sounds weird for someone who writes crime fiction and loves scary movies, huh?

The way I figure it, I can deal with blood on the page or on the television screen, but when it’s gushing out of my own or anyone else’s body, it’s a different story. I’m on the floor in a matter of seconds.

When I was younger, I fainted all the time. Sharp pain and sickness did it. So did using tweezers to get out a splinter. One morning while singing in the choir in church during grade school, I passed out and my best friend, who was standing next to me, thought I had died. When I opened my eyes to a nun standing over me and organ music in the background, I thought I had died, too. Another episode happened in my twenties while on vacation with my soon-to-be husband at the time. I’d gotten sun poisoning at the beach and passed out the next morning. When I came out of it, he was packing my suitcase and ready to ship me home. (He still married me, though.)

Thankfully, I’m not nearly as sensitive now as an adult, but don’t get me near a needle or anywhere near a hospital. Just last week I had blood taken at my doctor’s office and passed out in the waiting room.

I guess there are some things you never outgrow.

So for the benefit of not just myself but also for everyone else, I didn’t enroll in nursing school. Instead, I became a crime fiction writer where I inflict the pain and blood on fictional characters.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I do have extra padding on my chair for when the murder scenes get a bit too bloody.


Gina said...

Yikes, Kristine! When I started college a million years ago, it was assumed that all female students were studying to be nurses or teachers. Faced with blood & guts or a roomful of obnoxious children, I steadfastly resolved to become neither. I don't usually faint when I see blood, though. I'm more inclined to vomit. [Not the best behavior for the OR . . .]

Joyce said...

Blood doesn't bother me. I'm not real fond of vomit, but I got over that after having two kids and cleaning up after them. I hate to be nauseated, though. I'd rather go through 12 hours of labor than be sick to my stomach.

Our juvenile detective is squeamish about needles. When we get our annual flu shots at work, we all stand around and watch when it's his turn. He turns a shade somewhere between school paste and pea soup. It's funny that a guy who would face down someone pointing a gun at him would be afraid of a tiny needle!

Nancy said...

My husband donated blood for years. He was up to something like 10 gallons when finally one nurse couldn't find a vein and botched the whole procedure. He passed out in the middle of a school cafeteria, packed with people who'd come to donate to the Red Cross. And now he can't stand needles. He passes out every time he must get blood drawn for his chlorestrol tests!

Annette said...

I actually did consider becoming a nurse for a while. That is, until my mom had hip replacement surgery in the dark ages of 1976 when it was experimental and I was a teen ager. She was in a body cast all that summer and I was on bed pan duty. It was the bed pans, not the blood that scared me away from nursing.

Instead I became an EMT and ran with the local ambulance service for five years. For those of you who are squeemish about blood, I'll refrain from relating THOSE stories.

Kristine said...

I'm also not fond of vomit, but I can handle it better than a needle coming toward me.

It's amazing how many people faint at the sight of needles or blood.

Annette, I can just imagine what you saw while working as an EMT.

Cathy said...

So long ago now, those days as a student nurse and RN in critical care, twenty years' worth. I remember that those things that made me squeamish in the beginning--bedpans, various noxious body fluids--I soon got used to. We became hardened to it all. I'm glad the fortune teller was wrong in her prediction, Kristine, for nursing can be a pretty thankless career.

I barely slept at all the night before I gave my first enema. I was that rattled, and all you had to do was put the tube in the hole.

I hope no one passes out any more.

debralee said...

Kristine, my grandmother used to read tea leaves. She just did it for family and more for a good laugh when we'd get together. But it always amazed me at the things she got right.

Are you sure that fortune teller was totally wrong? Have you considered a nurse protagonist in your writing?

Tory said...

I think I'm the opposite of you, Kristine. It didn't phase me hanging out on the intensive care unit recruiting people for interviews. But get me in front of a creepy movie, Yikes! I didn't sleep for a week after seeing, "Silence of the Lambs."

I used to give blood until I got a nurse who launched into recounting his post-traumatic symptoms while inserting the needle. I didn't faint, just came to the decision I'd given my gallon for my lifetime and it was someone else's turn.

Kristine said...

Interesting thoughts, everyone.

I always wondered that maybe I was meant to write about a nurse protatonist, but then there would be the research... No trauma nurses, that's for sure.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, Kristine, you're not dead yet (despite the scene in the church). Never say never; the world works in weird ways.