Visiting Dracula by Daniella Djan

Taking blood for a lupie is a nightmare. 

You’ve got the elastic around your arm and the nurse slapping your wrist as she says “No veins!” or “Wake up!”, or in my case “She’s so dark you can’t see anything!”

Taking blood for a lupie is about playing the poking game. We are human pincushions. Some nurses are sympathetic, others are far from it. 

“This child is inconveniencing me!” One nurse said of me whilst struggling to locate my vein.

I’ve sometimes come out of the hospital or clinic with ‘war wounds’ all over my arms, on my groin and yes, they’ve even considered my neck and feet. 

The veins of us lupies are said to love playing hide and seek. 

“Oh, jammer (sorry),” the nurse says, as the needle digs into my skin. 

“Ag nee, ek kan nie (“Oh no, I cannot). Sister Zoleka!”

Sister Zoleka waddles into the room. 

“Difficult veins. I’ve poked her three times already. Nothing.”

“Hmmm”, says Sister Zoleka, casual and unmoved. She sits next to me and out come the butterfly needle, the elastic, the eight tubes, that swab which is always an indication that she’s going in. 

“I’m going in blind,” she admits, which is code to say: “I don’t have a clue where I’m going, but I’m going.”

And she did in vain, another three times. Then she squinted her eyes towards me. She was looking at my neck. Oh God no, I thought. They should rather put me under. 

They slap my wrists and chant: “Pompa pompa pompa!” (Pump, pump, pump!)

And then there is the “hallelujah!” when they finally get the vein. 

“You’re lucky you’re the only patient here.” They say. 

“Yes, I make it a point to come at 7:00am to avoid the mob of moaners who have to wait until I’m done. 

I get a phone call 43 minutes later, however, when I’m already home: 

“Oh my dear, I’m so sorry but your blood clotted. We’ll have to do more bloods. Can you come again today?”

I clenched my fist, “Okay.”

And I sit there with the mob of moaners breathing fire my way, elastic in place, swab applied, butterfly needle excited to start the dig. I close my eyes and pinch my thigh with my other hand (it’s what I do). 

“Eish, I’m sorry, baba,” she says. I wince as the needle engages, hoping for the next “hallelujah!” on the seventh poke.