Angry, Sad or Happy – Your Decision Will Determine Its Consequences

I was re-reading one of my previous post when this incident comes to mind, reminding me on the importance of focusing on my circle of influence.

This post brings me back a couple of months ago when I had prolonged fever and doctors suspected that it might have been dengue.

I went to a nearby polyclinic and was required to undergo a blood test. After the first blood test, the doctor told me to return about 3 days later for another blood test.

As it was my first blood test at that polyclinic, I learned the whole ‘blood-testing’ process ‘on-the-ground’. For my second blood test, I kind of expecting the same routine but boy was I in for a surprise.

It started normal, where I had to take queue numbers and waited for my numbers to be called. There were about 6 counters in that blood testing lab with nurses in each counter and each counter as a number display.

There was one particular counter that had a nurse but a blank number display. Since I had nothing else to do, I thought I’d have some fun with my imagination a bit..

Maybe the number display wasn’t working?

or maybe it wasn’t turned on?

or maybe the nurse didn’t know how to operate it?

it took a while for the nurse to realize that her number display wasn’t working.

I thought to myself,”Good luck to anyone who ‘lands’ in that counter.”

I looked at those waiting with me and calculated that the next unfortunate patient should not be me. I mean,  there were 5 other counters operating and they looked like they were finishing with their current patient. With just one other patient ahead of me, I thought that there was no way I could end up in her counter.

Apparently, I spoke too soon. That one guy ahead of me was called up to one of the 5 counters and that one ‘special’ counter called my number. Urgh…

I walked up to her counter and placed my arm on the arm rest. My confidence in her eroded when I saw how she was struggling to find my vein.

“Nurse, I was here a few days ago for blood test and maybe you would have be able to find my vein in the other arm,” I told her.

“No need, don’t worry,”she replied as she was getting ready to ‘stab’ my arm with a needle.

I watched the needle entered my arm slowly and guess what, there were no blood! SHE MISSED MY VEIN!

Instead of pulling out that needle for another try, I watched her turning the needle in different direction trying to find the vein, while the needle was still under my skin.

“Let me know if there’s any pain”, she said, trying hard to reassure me. I think my dropped jaw and wide eyes might have given her a clue.

I actually watched her rotate that needle to a full 360 degrees before she finally stopped, smiled at me and pasted a circular plaster over it. She decided to try my other arm, as I’ve suggested.

The first 'stab' wound
The first ‘stab’ wound

She apologized and laughed as she pasted the second plaster after a successful blood-drawing attempt on the other arm.

'Stab' wound number 2
‘Stab’ wound number 2

I walked out of that testing lab with both arms totally straight, due to the plasters, and that invited glances from worried patients.

I used to get angry over these things. But this time, for some reason, I was calm and even caught myself laughing over it. I thought these things only happen in comedy flicks.

Why did I react differently? Why didn’t I just flare up and get angry over this?

Was it old age? Maybe.

Looking back, I learned that it was just plain old decision making.

I remembered reading about Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. For those who haven’t heard about it, I gave a super short description of it in this post.

That nurse might be new, or it might not have been one of her better days and I have no control over that. Since I have zero control over what she did, she will be within my circle of concern, not circle of influence.

What I can control is how I react over what she did. My own actions are within my circle of influence.

The moment I choose to be reactive to what she did, the outcome might be totally outside my control. Stephen Covey nicely puts it as ‘if we pick up one end of the stick, we will be picking up the other end too’.

Every action has a consequence. We have control over our actions but not its consequences.

PS – If you happen to be managing polyclinics, this is NOT a complaint. In fact, I had a great time. 🙂




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