“Oh dear!” I struck a pose, hand on hips. “I hope it’s not going to go on being a bad vein day!”
As I touched my carefully coiffed hair to accentuate the point of the joke, I realised that my camp humour didn’t always go down well with nervous patients. However, this fellow seemed agreeable enough as he raised a smile.
“All day long, these people have had these terrible veins and I can’t get the needle in for love nor money,” I explained away like the mouthy chatterer I am. “But,” I added in triumph, “I’m glad to say, Martin, that you’ve got wonderful veins! You’ve bucked the trend.”
“So, Jonathan, it’s not a bad vein day after all?”
“Definitely not, definitely not, the needle’s slipped in like velvet, thanks to your gorgeous veins!”
It was a typical day for me, a procession of mostly older people who were scared of what my CT scan of their heart might reveal. I try and be extra friendly, telling them my name and using theirs, and do my best to jolly things along but sometimes an older man or woman might look askance at my pink hair and earring, feeling that a radiographer should be a more conventional soul. But, on the whole, nobody normally really cares how flamboyantly I behave. And because I always aim to be friendly, cheerful and kind, most people respond with warmth and humour.
In sharp contrast, my assistant Maria, who was on the patient’s other side, was behaving like a fully-fledged cow. Twice I’d had to tick her off for being snappy, truculent and totally unprofessional and it was getting embarrassing.
Of course in a way it was all my fault. You see, despite peoples assumptions about me, I’m actually a bit of a Casanova with women, and as a rule I have a lot of luck with them. I had ended a torrid affair with Maria just last night, and she was absolutely furious with me, striding about silently, glaring at me every time we had to talk about work. Why hadn’t she realised that our relationship wasn’t working, as I had? I remembered that someone had told me she had been violent to a previous boyfriend, I believe there was even a court case, but I hadn’t thought about it much.
The scans went fine and old Martin left, and I felt rather sorry for him as Maria viciously wrenched the needle from his arm, scowling as he flinched in pain. He waddled away with just a cheery wave to me.
It was as we were clearing up to go home that all hell broke loose.
“You bloody bastard, Jack!” Maria yelled at me. “You think you can just chuck me because you feel like it? That you can treat me like shit?”
Then she produced a huge kitchen knife and came closer.
“Look, please, Maria, let’s talk about this,” I warned her, backing away until I was against the wall.
We were alone in the big radiology suite, a long way from the main hospital. No one would hear my calls. She was getting closer. And her face spelt danger.
“There’s nothing to talk about, Jonathan,” she went on, eyes narrowed to murderous slits. “If I can’t have you, no one can!”
Before I knew what was happening, she had stabbed me in the chest.
It was surreal. She just stood there and pulled out the knife as I slid down the wall to the floor. I was aware that I was rapidly losing a massive amount of blood.
She knelt down and lifted up the knife to strike again.
Then she fell sideways, and I saw corpulent elderly Martin standing there with the heavy oxygen bottle he’d hit her with. Panting heavily after his exertion, he stamped on her hand, then kicked the knife away when her fingers released it. Then as she made to reach for it, he kicked her in the face, so that she fell backwards and stayed still.
“I thought I might have dropped my wallet in here,” my rescuer said, as he pulled out his mobile and called for help.
Once he’d done that, he lost no time in finding a big bandage and sitting down beside me and pressing it against the wound.
Then I saw his face go into shock. “Oh God, I can’t breathe! One of my attacks!” he gasped out.
“GTN!” I stuttered, and he nodded, and managed to totter to his feet and find the spray that I’d been using today, and squirted it under his tongue. After a while he was able to breathe a bit better, but he didn’t look good at all.
But, being a decent bloke, he still forced himself to stagger back to me and pressed the pad against my chest again, doing his best to staunch the blood flow.
After what seemed like hours, but was actually more like a minute, we heard people running towards us and we both felt a surge of relief.
A few moments later and sanity was beginning to prevail. I knew that now we were both in professional hands, things were going to be okay. . .
“You know, Jonathan, you were wrong,” Martin muttered to me as the doctor was slipping a line into my wrist, and a nurse was taking his blood pressure, and listening to his chest.
“What was I wrong about, Martin?” I muttered.
“It turned out to be a bad vein day after all!”
(photo courtesy of Alexas Fotos from Pixabay)