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Facing the needle

By The Assam Tribune
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MY SPACE - Dr. Kasturi Kalita

[email protected]

I am not brave when it comes to handling needles. But fate has somehow wrapped me up with procedures that deal with needles. Every day, in the Transfusion department, I get blood donors in unique and contrasting frames of mind. Some are euphoric about donating blood, and some are so reluctant that counselling them takes almost an hour. Again, there are some who dictate us on how to adjust the amount of blood drawn, according to their whims. I remember a middle-aged blood donor who was donating for a paediatric patient. He demanded that we push 250 ml of his blood back into him because the baby required only 100 ml. Over the years, I have mastered the art of dealing with blood donors. Blood donation tales are amusing. But, ask yourselves, will you donate blood for any random patient? Last year, in the midst of COVID-19, I have seen most of my doctors donating voluntarily. The only feedback I got from them was about the needle, and that’s when I decided that, I, too, shall experience the prick.

“None of the beneficiaries left the vaccine booth without clicking the mandatory selfie. I, too, followed suit. I concentrated so much on getting the perfect selfie that I did not even feel the jab.”

To my disappointment, my desire for blood donation had to be put on hold temporarily. A prick of another sort was lined up for me. I had to undergo a CT angiography scan, which required an intravenous cannula. I will always remember the contented look on the ER doctor’s face when I gave out a loud interjectory “ouch!”, as the cannula pierced one of the dorsal veins of my hand. “Now you know how we feel when we donate blood for you,” she said, with a sarcastic smile. The cannula process was indeed painful and my high-pitched squeal somehow gave me a little relief, but it also got me tagged “skittish” by my consultant, who was there to witness my outburst.

Two months later, there was a sudden crisis of a particular blood group in my blood stock. I knew that a pint of my blood could help ease the situation. So, I decided to donate. The wide bore needle looked formidable, but the pain was much less compared to the satisfaction my heart experienced. This time, I let out a louder “ouch”. I was pleasantly surprised to see the ER doctor, who had previously ridiculed me, waiting for her turn to donate. We, females, love to annoy each other, but when confronted by any difficult situation, we strike back together. That day, few more doctors selflessly donated blood for their patients.

Some days later, the news circulated that all healthcare workers would be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. We geared up for the much awaited vaccine. Each department submitted their staff details. Day one of the COVID-19 vaccination started with the nursing staff getting their shots. Later, doctors were called up for the vaccination programme. And none of the beneficiaries left the vaccine booth without clicking the mandatory selfie. I, too, followed suit. I concentrated so much on getting the perfect selfie that I did not even feel the jab. The COVID-19 vaccine has been introduced only after regulatory bodies have cleared its safety and efficacy, and I have full faith in it. Post-vaccination, I did not have any side-effects, except for the usual pain on the injection site.

After having experienced different types of needle pricks, there was one more task that had to be ticked off my bucket list. So, I booked an appointment with one of Guwahati's most well-known tattoo artistes, who followed a strict infection control protocol. My apprehension was soon eliminated by a pleasant personality who introduced himself as the tattooist. After a thorough discussion, we finished the mandatory paperwork. He made me check a sealed bugpin needle which would be used for me. Throughout the process, I only felt a random pricking sensation on my left wrist. At times, it felt like bee-stings, and as the needle moved closer to the ulnar head, I felt a painful vibration. This time, I kept myself poised, and was determined not to let out a single sound. Thirty minutes later, I saw beautiful, tiny birds flying out of an infinity symbol on my hand.

Driving back home, contented, I was thinking how lucky I was. I was taught to believe in myself and I have always been given the freedom to do what is best for me.

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