I love tradition. I am devoted to ritual. From big holiday and birthday celebrations to ushering in the seasons with tree-tapping, open-toed shoes or apple picking, I embrace it all. Mini weekly rites like Martini Mondays, Sunday Family Snuggle Time and Saturday morning coffees on the balcony are all part of the solemn sacraments that help guide us through life and cultivate the identities of our relationships. They bind us together. They mark our days. They make us pay attention. There is no occasion too big or too small for which a glass of pink champagne cannot be justified. Of course, not every day can be a bar mitzvah but hear me out because I am about to give you a whole new reason to eat sugar.
Each month for the next five years or so, I am required to subject my teeny tiny veins to a blood draw. Every. Single. Month. This is because I had some pretty serious MS treatments with some potentially long term side effects. How serious? I had to sign a contract promising that no matter where in the world I may be, I will do this. Every month. For five years. A bossy nurse calls every 28 days to issue me a stern reminder. It is the only solid five year plan I have ever had.
Now, I don’t mind the pain of the needle. In fact my eyes roll fairly far back in my head when people freak out over a basic blood test. Once you have to deal with real shit you tend to toughen up (I’m looking at you, F). What I don’t like about these tests is the trek through the lab crammed with approximately 482 sickly people, most of whom seem bent on exposing my still depleted immune system to their strep throats, whooping coughs, and tuberculosis. I am convinced there is always at least one person in that hot, crowded room being tested for plague. Bubonic or Pneumonic, it doesn’t really matter. I hold my breath, say a prayer and throw all of my clothes in bleach as soon as I get home. The other anxiety about this monthly obligation is the stabby suggestion that I have taken some risky chances for the possibility of improved health. I have made a hot deal with the devil and getting tested for the potential consequences reminds me that something along the way could go really wrong. I used to subscribe to the ‘only one disease at a time’ philosophy, but doctors assure me that’s not a thing. At one of my recent trips to the clinic, was a brave little guy who needed quite a number of prickly tests himself. His mother came armed with presents and treats to get him through it. She promised him the biggest reward of all when it was over. She didn’t tell him not to cry. She didn’t need to reassure him he wouldn’t contract bird flu simply by walking in the door. She held his hand while he squealed, told him he was brave and all of his suffering and distress seemed to vanish the instant he was presented with his final reward, a beautiful cupcake covered in a rainbow of sprinkles.
Could this kind of negotiation and trickery work for me?
While the answer to my entirely rational fear of contagion is of course to continue to coat myself in hand sanitizer, restrict my exposure to WebMD for the fortnight before my appointment and avoid making any eye contact once at the clinic, there still exists a need for comfort in the face of this enduring and unpleasant routine. Inspired by the little boy with measles or malaria or whatever it was he had, I decided to turn this experience into a decidedly more delicious one.
‘Is there anything they can’t do?’ (Homer Simpson)
Conveniently located right next door to my blood clinic is a super fancy, hipster, upscale donut joint. Here’s the new routine. The Banker drops me off at the clinic and while I am being poked he picks up a couple of lattes and some designer deep fried pastries. Carrot cake with cream cheese icing for me, and red velvet for him because we are in this together. The whole time I am in the clinic, I am thinking about my delicious reward. An indulgence made sweeter given my mostly whole, organic foods regular régime. I barely even notice that the person in the waiting room next to me for sure has a fever. Now I look forward to blood draw day or as it shall henceforth be know, Blood Donut Day. These are called coping strategies, people. If you like this post please follow Tripping on Air on Facebook.