Four-thirty a.m. came around early this morning. I knew I had to get up early so, of course, I was awake at 3:10 a.m. I slept in fits and starts until my radio alarm clock sounded the alarm, “BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!” I rolled out of bed, wash, shaved, did my morning exercises (to get my blood flowing), and ate my breakfast. By this time 5:25 a.m. had arrived and Bill was ready to drive me to liquor store at Rts. 1 and 5, where the American Legion Post 28 van would pick me up. Out of the house into the dark cold air, I climbed into Bill’s ancient Jeep. Ten minutes later we were at the pick up point. Another veteran was waiting there in his car. About 20 minutes later the van arrives. Only the driver and a World War II submarine veteran who was riding shotgun were in the van. Usually the van is full. But, this morning three vets cancelled and one was a no show. The other vet and I climbed in behind the driver and the submarine vet. Right away I made a mistake. I was behind the driver and he had his seat all the way back. I have long legs. The ride to Wilmington is a good hour away. My long legs would be cramped. They were. Plus, I didn’t have an arm rest. My ride to the V A Medical Center in Wilmington was very uncomfortable. I tried to take nap on the way up, to make up for lost sleep time. All I accomplished was more fitful sleep. Arriving at the VA building in Wilmington, it was now daylight. The air was still cold. I made my way up to Room 2115 for my 9 a.m. appointment for my CAT-RAD scan. I checked in at the desk. The receptionist told me to take a seat. First I had to drink five full glasses of water. One hour prior to the CAT-RAD scan I was given instructions to drink all this water. I knew this would be a problem. I just don’t drink that much water. That is why I have kidney stones, which is why I was getting a CAT-RAD scan today. I brought my own plastic glass with me. I went out in the hallway and positioned my glass under the water fountain. One glass I gulped down. Already I had enough. I drank another glass of water. I’m bloated now. Three more glasses to go. I turned the fountain on again and filled my glass. Gulp! Now I’m getting nauseous. I walked up and down the hall, sloshing all the way. The time was only 7:45 a.m. so I had a while to go. I waited about 15 minutes then took another gulp of water. Oh my God. I’m about to float away. I only had one more to go. I steeled myself and filled my plastic glass up again and chug a lugged it down. Now I’m sick. I wobbled into the waiting room. As I passed the receptionist, she told me I had to go downstairs to get my “labs.” That’s VA talk for a blood test. Lightheaded, I headed for the elevator, got on, and got off the first floor. Checking in with that receptionist, I scanned my VA identification card. The VA is very organized. All a vet has to do is scan their card and their name comes up on the monitor and appointment information. So much better than private medical practice where it seems as if the front desk is run by bored clerical staff. My appointments at the VA are ALWAYS on time. There is none of the practice of making appointments for all patients at 10 a.m. in the morning or 2 p.m. in the afternoon. “Tipton?” My name was called. Rising, I follow the pleasant young lady around the corner and take a seat in a barber type chair and roll up my right sleeve. We exchanged pleasantries. She checks my arm for a vein. Pleased, she said “You have nice veins.” Thank you. She swabs my vein and takes the needle out, aiming for my vein. I look away. I can’t stand the sight of my own blood. If I see it, I’ll be on the floor. It’s happened before. I don’t want a repeat. “There! That’s done.” It was painless. I complimented her on her skill in not hurting me. Rolling down my sleeve, I left. Back to Room 2115 and the waiting room. Nine o’clock rolled around. The technician came out and called my name. I go into a room off to the side. He tells me to take off my shirt and lie down on a bed type contraption protruding out of the CAT Scan tube. I get on the bed (I’ll call it a “bed” for lack of a better word.) He puts a sheet over me and asks me to pull my pants down around my knees. He goes for my right arm again. I’m going to get an IV. Oh uh. He gets this BIG needle out and compliments me on my vein. “Nice veins” he says. Then he punctures it. OUCH! Damn. That hurt. He says “You have tough skin.” Funny, I thought I was thin skinned. Oh well. He tries again. WOW! THAT HURT! He says this time “Your vein rolled.” What’s that? My vein rolled? I've been rolled before but I don't recall ever having my vein rolled. Then he punctures me again. It is really hurting now. What is this guy, a sadist? I’m beginning to feel like a pin cushion. I noticed that he didn’t swab my skin with an anesthetic. What’s this? Was he bored? He didn’t seem too happy. Finally he got the IV in my vein. It was about time. And or course, it hurt the whole time it was in. Then we went through taking the CAT-RAD scan. In the tube, hold my breath, exit the tube, let my breath out. Three times I did this. Now it was time to take out the IV tube. Oh boy. More hurt. I probably sound like a baby don’t I? I think I have a pretty high pain threshold. But, I don’t know. I was punctured quite a few times this morning. I wouldn’t be good under torture. I would probably be the first to spill the beans then some. Finally, it was over. I pulled my pants up, took the sheet off, and left. I thanked the technician but on reflection, I wonder why. I’m not sure if he was all that good at administering needles. I expected my arm to be bruised. Looking at it now all I see is four puncture marks. It looks like I had a run in with Dracula and I put up my arm to ward him off and he missed and got my arm instead. Well, it’s all done now. The ride back was uneventful. About an hour after I returned home, I heard a knock at my door. It was the UPS man. He arrived with my new Dell computer. I’m working tomorrow at the Inn (still no guests) so I will have to wait until Friday to assemble all the parts. Damn, that needle hurt.