A Drunk Sailor

job drunkOK…I saw this meme on Facebook today and to say I could relate would be an understatement. Let me explain…of course.

I was attending Navy Laboratory School in Oakland, CA back in 1975. The half of the course was mostly classroom work, so the second half of the curriculum was time to start doing the “practical” part of the course. The practical parts included doing the actual lab work and specimen collections. Part of the specimen collection included drawing blood from people…you know, sticking this big ole needle into their arm. I DID NOT LIKE THAT. I DON’T LIKE NEEDLES IN MY ARM (or my butt), and I DIDN’T LIKE STICKING PEOPLE!

But, drawing blood from patients IS PART OF THE JOB…and some point I was gonna have to do it, or drop out of the class. I was dreading the day I would have to do it. I already had small hint of what it would be like because we were also supposed to “prick” each others finger. I made a joke out of it though and brought a mini-bottle of whiskey and put it on my desk. I told the instructor that if we had to do that…I was taking a shot. The class got a kick out of it, but I was serious. Luckily, the instructor gave us a pass on the finger prick.

However when we went to the lab to do our internship, one of the things we had to get checked off on was phlebotomy, or drawing the blood of 10 patients. I stalled and stalled…I just didn’t want to stick anyone for fear of hurting them. I hated the idea. Well, several days went by and I still hadn’t drawn a single persons blood and the instructor was pressuring me very heavily. I was literally thinking about quitting school and for sure they would have sent me to a ship, or with field medical school to be dispatched with a Marine division. I had to make a decision and make it quick.

On the morning of the 4th day I still didn’t know what I was going to do. At lunch some of the guys in class suggested we head to Pizza Hut for lunch. Once we got there we ordered a pitcher of beer (after all…pizza and beer go together) and glasses for us all. Back then it was not unusual to have a “liquid lunch” as long as you didn’t go back to work drunk. I had a couple of beers (no more than 2) and we went back to work. Evidently, two beers is my “BUZZ” limit…because I no longer had any fear of hurting someone if I drew their blood and sure enough, the first guy sits in the chair, and I bust out my needle and tubes and drew his blood. Actually, I’m not so sure how good a job I did, but I did stick the needle in his arm. I did this for the next several patients and slowly got over my intense fear of hurting patients. Honestly, I am positive that I wasn’t successful every time I tried to draw blood, but each time it got a little easier and I eventually got the allotted number of sticks required for the class.

So when I saw this meme…it brought back a vivid memory and possibly the turning point of a 41 year career in Laboratory Medicine and Testing.

Now let me emphatically state, drinking alcohol and working DO NOT GO TOGETHER. It was a different time and I was young and foolish!!! (shhhhh, but it worked for me). LOL

DON’T DRINK and DRAW!!

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