pushing a pea

February 19, 2023

The call comes from the clinical side to where I sit, a stack of bills next to my computer. A simple summons: “Blood work.” 

“Coming,” I say as I’m rising from the chair. I put down the papers and gather my supplies. Looking at the order I gulp. This is no routine draw, but a five year old with elaborate tests being run. 

I can’t do this.

Lord, help me do this.

Tucking her into her daddy’s arms, and asking him to hold a phone for her to watch, I feel for the vein. It feels good. Looking up to see that she is still distracted, I slide the needle in. Nothing.


Pushing a pea around on a plate, my memory reminds me as I think fast to all I have learned . I envision the vein rolling and gently pull back, angling back up. There. I feel the slight puncture, and the flow begins. I let out the breath I was holding. 

Lord, let it keep flowing.

As I’m popping in the second tube, the doctor walks in the door.

“Can you add a purple top?,” she says. “I decided to add a test.”

“Sure,” I say

I hope so! I think

And then, a few minutes later, it is done. I’m wrapping the little arm in a pink bandage, and sending her out with a smile and a “See you next time!” I’m still sweating, but breathing easily once more. I am spent, and I am filled with gratitude for this moment in time.

Never, in my wildest imaginings-even when I was preparing to launch into this new medical career-could I have envisioned myself here: not only doing venipuncture but, bizarrely, loving it. Of course, it is not the act itself that makes me feel alive; I mean, really, sticking needles into arms??? But the focus that this work requires, and the taking-every-ounce-out-of-me, and the joy of easing the fear when I manage to do the job well…it leaves me with a deep sense that this is what I am meant to do. Not in some ultimate calling sort of way, but simply that, here, in this season of my life, I have stumbled into a place that I couldn’t have created for myself, but that I see is very, very good.

Hold onto this awareness, I tell myself.

On the days when it is not going smoothly, when I’m not feeling up to the task, when I feel like I’ve messed up…remember this truth:

This is my place. 

This is my life. 

This is good


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