I took the proffered vial from Mitch’s hand. As I grabbed it I felt the cold clamminess of his skin. Just looking at Mitch made the hair on the neck of my neck stand up and sent a tingle down my back. It made me shiver in my wet clothes. As an ICU nurse I gave some intramuscular injections but not a ton. The ones I did give were usually on comatose people who didn’t provide much feedback as to my skill level or competence.
“Well come oooon in Mitch. Step right up. You have come to the right place, cuz I’m an expert.” I waved him into the office with an extravagant flourish of my hands. Then I grabbed the plastic chair and placed it in the center of the room. I hadn’t lied. I was an expert…just maybe not at giving IM injections but let’s not split hairs! Besides, the false bravado helped to bolster my confidence and, honestly, what good would it do for me to divulge the truth?
Mitch hesitated at the doorway and looked at Chelsea.
“Did you want some privacy Mitch?” I asked. “Chelsea will only be a few more minutes. We can wait until she is done.”
“No no,” Mitch said as he looked pleadingly at Chelsea, “I was going to ask if you wouldn’t mind staying!”
“Sure Mitch,” Chelsea happily volunteered, “I’m almost done here anyways.”
“Thanks Chelsea.” Both Mitch and I responded in unison. Seems we were both glad of the help.
Now the funny thing here was that, to look at Mitch, you would never think that he knew what fear was. He was a muscular twenty year old. With his short clipped hair he resembled a marine. He was an essential part of the ‘tripping’ and maintenance crew and would often be found seemingly effortlessly hauling canoes with one massive hand, strapping boats down with rippling muscled arms and tossing heaping shovels full of mulch around the trails. The Dear hut campers enjoyed hanging off his biceps as he did curls. This dude looked tough but apparently looks were deceiving, as a 22 gauge, 1 inch needle to the Deltoid could reduce him to a shivering gelatinous mass. Huh. Whoda thunk it?
“Let me get the supplies ready.” I said as I gave Chelsea a dry paper towel and a q-tip with antibiotic ointment applied to it. She sat up, removed the saline soak and patted her navel piercing dry.
I found the appropriate sized needle in the first drawer and an alcohol swab. I drew up the hepatitis vaccine into the needle, tapped out the air bubbles and recapped the needle. Chelsea had finished applying the ointment, jumped down off the examination table and tossed the q-tip in the garbage can. She stood by Mitch’s side with her hands on her hips, ready to help. I turned around to find Mitch, hands clasped together in his lap, shoulders pulled forward, trembling with eyes darting back and forth between Chelsea and myself. He looked like a trapped animal!
I put the needle down on the counter and stepped towards Mitch. I gently pulled up the short sleeve of his t-shirt on his left side.
“So which side would you prefer…” I stopped midsentence as I looked at Mitch’s deltoid.
Mitch looked up at me, held my gaze and then gave a small smile and then trembled again.
“I’d prefer if you used my other side please Nurse Anne.”
I nodded as I looked at his extremely colorful and detailed tattoo….