I'm human, it's natural to feel threatened and react. Yet, my hope is always that I never change my own nature to someone I am not...and maybe just maybe kindness wins.
Most times we fail to discover what it is that makes someone unkind to us.
These momentary nasty moments make us write that stranger off. Feel contempt.
About a month ago, I had an encounter at the blood lab that literally almost set my blood to boiling. Working with my incredible endocrinologist, I have been struggling with my thyroid levels for over a year trying to get a handle on them. Over the last two months we have been moving to blood tests every two weeks to monitor my sometimes precarious situation.
|This is pretty much me every time.|
The picture above pretty much illustrates how I used to face every single blood draw I ever had.Over the years, anxiety has been a constant for me during these 'simple' tests until I started finding comfort in one person and one lab.
There is only one blood lab I will go to- it's Wilmot's outpatient blood lab.
With damaged veins from years of treatment, it's the only place I trust. It's the only place where I don't have to endure painful and frustrating attempts to be drawn. There has been one girl at the lab who always gets it right. Over the last 2 years she's gotten me every time- one attempt, over in no time, no pain.
If I am not able to reach the blood lab on my lunch hour I race to get there before it closes at 5pm. One such time six weeks ago I was running down the hall looking at the Wilmot hall clock. Friday. 4:52PM. Almost quitting time.
I knew my favorite phlebotomist would be packing up her things but if I made it in time she'd squeeze me in. I ran faster. Breathless, I swung open the door only to find a new face in the white lab coat. I started to feel my heart race as I signed in.
She was just shutting down her computer when I signed in. She huffed out loud and begrudgingly checked my ID. Under her breath she murmured about getting out on time on a Friday.
I apologized but began to explain I couldn't find time in the week before and this was my only window. "No, that's fine" she said unconvincingly, but as she watched me tap my left hand her eyes began to widen in fear.
"Oh dear, you're a hard stick too, right?" She reached into the cabinet to hand me a plastic hot pack.
I put it on my hand feeling the humiliation rise inside of me.
I guess I'm pretty much every phlebotomist's worst nightmare at the 5 o'clock whistle.
I felt tears forming. Already anxious and fearful about this new person drawing the needle...now I felt like I should turn tail and run out.
For some reason, I didn't. I needed these results and here I was.
Deep breath. She drew me, and to my surprise it was quick, painless and she used the same talent as I'd known with Jeanie.
I was tempted to go out of there in the huff she had greeted me with.
I decided to do something different.
"Thank you for taking me. I know it's hard on a Friday," I said with my head turned away from her- averting my eyes for fear of the glances of annoyance she had greeted me with.
"Sure," she said back in a perfunctory tone.
But one more thing. As I headed out, I turned back and looked at her and tried to smile at her - hopefully it was somewhat convincing."Thank you for drawing me without pain. It's never easy for me with a lot other blood techs...and you did it well."
I closed the door before I had a return comment. The whole ten minutes had been a lot to take in.
It's not always easy to be kind.
Sometimes cruel and impatient encounters by strangers or even those you know, can leave you easily led into dishing out the same. But I never want anyone to change how I am. It doesn't always turn out that way. But every once in a while I can persevere in keeping my calm.
Never have I been more proud of doing this than yesterday.
This time I was early to the lab...4:30PM to be exact.
Sure enough there was the same woman who had huffed and puffed before.
As she was drawing me this time, I looked at my last name on the tube. It was my married name...even though I had given her my maiden name (sure that insurance records had still not been corrected).
In astonishment, I talked with her about the whole process being a maze for me - making sure my married name was corrected. I made a natural assumption- asking her about if she ever had any of these difficulties with married name changing...
Her face fell. The steel facade immediately fell away.
"I haven't been as lucky..."
I could feel in every fiber of my being where she was.
I had been there.
"Well, you know I just got married this summer...and I'm no spring chicken."
Suddenly, with only the two of us in this blood lab she began to tell me about Match.com and the challenges of facing her 40th birthday alone.
"I don't need a man in my life..but I just always thought it would happen," she said
"Been there, girl..." I said.
I almost gulped as I realized I was addressing her comfortably, like a friend.
"How did it happen for you?"
"I changed my way of thinking..."
She leaned in and her eyes widened.
As I proceeded to tell her about how I'd almost given up after cancer on finding a life mate...because so many guys who looked for 'that perfect girl' that I didn't fit their definition of their 'safe bet'.
I told her I had previously followed the same old approach...picked the safe paths in life...walked the roads I'd always taken - in dating, in routines...in shutting out opportunities that were outside of my comfort zone.
I told her I started believing in what might be...if I just tried something different. I was different...and that is okay.
I told her if I just believed in possibility a little more...who knows? Nothing to lose, right?
You never know if you don't try, right?
Her eyes began to sparkle.
I told her about my husband and how we both took a chance on something that others had warned us was 'challenging'- long distance, different careers.
We closed the rule book- and we tried it out together.
"That kind of gives me hope," she said.
As I left the blood lab yesterday the woman I had almost wrote off was smiling.
And with the sincerest smile she thanked me. No joke, she told me it was her last day.
She had been unhappy for a while and she was being transferred.
"I'm sorry I won't get to draw you again," she said.
"Me too. I hope we cross paths again."
Miracles happen every day, friends. They happen when we work hard enough to get out of our gut reactions and think about a stranger who crosses our path.
Never forget. Be kind - every one you meet is truly walking a life we can't know on first glance. Sometimes the face we present to the world has been placed their because of hurt and disappointment.
Sometimes it takes just one moment, one stranger to change your day...
BE KIND. PASS IT ON.