The Needling Issue Doesn’t Have To Be

, , , , | Healthy | January 16, 2018

Due to a chronic condition, I needed to have a series of blood tests done, some of which required larger gauge needles than normal. I headed to the hospital closest to my apartment in Tokyo, waited to see the specialist, and got my notes to take to the blood draw lab reception.

The intake nurses were a bit flustered to be treating me, but my Japanese was good enough that I got through the first steps just fine. Then, I headed into the blood test room and the nurse there started telling me that the tests would hurt, the needles are pretty big, etc., and that in Japan, they don’t use skin-numbing cream. I assured her that I’d be fine, but she didn’t believe me and stomped out of the room to find a nurse that spoke English, despite the fact that we had been conversing in Japanese just fine.

I took off my cardigan, and my heavily-tattooed arms were now visible, right when the nurse came back, dragging a young doctor behind her. He looked at me and said to the nurse, “I think she’s okay with needles,” then burst out laughing as the nurse just gawked at me. Turns out I was the first foreign patient she’d ever taken blood from and she was terrified I’d flip out or faint because of the needles.

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