I nestled my wears among the sheets at the foot of the bed. One sterile tray with an offensively yellow sharps bin fixed at one end and all the necessary paperwork, wipes, bottles, needles, gauze and tape spilling over the opposing edge. I pressed down on the pump of the alcohol gel bottle that was clipped over the edge of this bed. As my hands rubbed around the familiar sterilising motions, I recited from the script, “Good morning, my name is … and I am a Year 4 Medical Student. Your doctor has asked me to take blood from you, are you happy for me to do that?”

It’s dark in this corner of the ward. The curtains are drawn so nobody can see us in our choreographed struggle. They unfurl their arm from the shadows. My freshly sanitised fingers tie the tourniquet and together we look down. Two trickling streams of blood give way under the pressure of my thumb. I leave the tourniquet longer, hoping to see them swell. Wipe clean, bring the bottles closer, make sure the cotton and tape are only an arms length away. There is still nothing to see, but I unsheathe the smallest of the needles with its thin white stem and symmetrical blue thumbtacks. The blue and white butterfly lands smoothly, flush to the skin and blushes red.


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