Early in the shift it was discovered that this man needed a new IV. Another medic I worked with mentioned that to me, so I went to his room to start the IV. I had scarcely placed the tourniquet on his arm when a Registered Nurse (an officer) and a Medical Technician (an enlisted person who outranked me) from the SCU (Special Care Unit) entered the room. They asked what I was doing and I informed them that I was starting an IV. Apparently the other medic on the Medical Surgical Unit I had talked to, thought she couldn't get the IV, and had called the SCU to try. They asked why we had called them. I informed them that "I" hadn't called them. They made several other rude comments, insinuating that my IV skills couldn't possibly match theirs and that I shouldn't bother calling them back and wasting their time. Then they left.
How unprofessional for coworkers to have a disagreement and for them to treat me that way in front of this patient. After they left the patient asked me my name. He then informed me, "Holverson, you are going to start this IV. I don't care how many times you have to stick me. Those women had no right to treat you like that." I started the IV. I don't remember how many sticks it took for sure. I do remember that each time this man was admitted to the hospital after this he specifically asked if I was available to start his IV, so it probably only took one stick.
I always enjoyed listening to retiree stories about their military careers and casually asked this man what he did in the military. When he informed me that he was a retired Tuskegee Airman, I initially didn't believe him. He looked way too young. I of course checked his age in his medical record. He was indeed old enough to have served during World War II. When I found time, I returned to his room to hear more about his experience. He proudly shared stories with me. He talked about how unfairly they were treated by being segregated. He told me how they hadn't been allowed to actually go to war. He told me how President Roosevelt's wife came to visit. He said she demanded a ride in a plane with one of the Tuskegee Airmen. She asked their commanders why they hadn't been allowed to go to war, given they had been properly trained. He told me that Mrs. Roosevelt was instrumental in getting them into the war, allowing them to demonstrate their abilities.
He told me about more challenges he had after the war. In the military most pilots are officers or warrant officers. The black fighter pilots weren't given that opportunity following the war. He was made an enlisted man, even though he had demonstrated the same skills as his superior officers. He had endured mistreatment and I came to understand that was the reason he stood up for me. For that man, principle was very important, more important than how many needle sticks it took to start his IV.