Confession No. 63 — When a patient deserves no patience

Ferris Bueller I’m not.

I’m incapable of fluttering eyelashes pathetically at my caregivers. Neither am I able to feign sympathy for those people who stop everything to nurse me back to health. Hell, I’m not even good at showing gratitude in such situations.

My name is Adam J. Holland and I might just be the world’s worst patient.

As far back as I can remember — and I’m thinking about an incident that happened at age 3 during which the ER nurse threatened to give me a shot in the knee if I didn’t drop my pants — my refusal to cooperate has been documented in the charts of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, x-ray technicians, orderlies … even janitorial staff and parking attendants.

My own godmother, a doctor herself, remembers chasing me around her office — syringe in hand — until she finally had me cornered. I was about 14 and didn’t realize how fortunate I was. She and others who witnessed this brief episode of absurdity laugh about it today. Not me.

And I wasn’t laughing about it 10 years later when the phlebotomist couldn’t find a vein.

“I’ve found it, but it keeps rolling off my needle,” the lady in scrubs said to my then-fiancé, a nurse.

“I hate it when that happens,” the love of my life responded.

“Look ladies,” I barked, “I’m getting clammy over here and I’m about to pull that damn needle out of my arm and call off the wedding! Quit talking about my vein rolling around!”

But it was too late. The cold sweat had begun to bead on my forehead. The contents of my stomach were creeping upward. At that point, I couldn’t have cared less whether I had the syphilis test (required for a marriage license in New Jersey).

“Pull it out!” I ordered.

“I almost have it,” the phlebotomist responded.

“No, you don’t! Pull out the damn needle!”

She did and I bolted from the small exam room to the parking lot. From there, I took off my shirt, laid on the hood of the car and insisted that someone go get me a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

“I was this close to calling off the wedding,” I said to Catherine after a subsequent successful attempt to draw a few drops of blood.

“Oh, Adam,” she laughed. “It was a few drops of blood. Were you really in pain?”

Truth is, those needles have never brought about any more pain than a little pinch sensation. Still, after begrudgingly giving a few drops of the red stuff in a hospital lab, I was handed an apple-flavored Laffy Taffy as the nurse applied a small bandage to the back of my hand. It was emblazoned with a smiling cartoon character and the words ‘I didn’t cry!’

I was in my mid-30s at the time.

Yes. I’m that bad. But my lack of medically related cooperation extends well beyond needles.

I once faked feeling fine when I thought the doctor and his attractive young assistant were considering bending me over a table and inserting the latest technology. I also once tried to trick the CT scan by not drinking the dye. On both occasions, the medical professionals thought they were dealing with a rational 34-year-old.

I have been telling the optometrist for years that the little burst of air in my eye (glaucoma test) incites uncontrollable vomiting. I’m also a pronounced self-diagnoser. Trust me, doctors don’t like this. And neither does my nurse wife.

Truth is, my wife, the other nurses and the doctors are the only people who feel worse than me when I’m feeling under the weather.

I hope you like what you’ve read here. Please consider telling 50 of your closest friends about me, and joining me on Facebook. I promise that I’m a much better Facebooker than I am a patient. Just click the ‘like’ button.

Non-Texans might look at the recipe and photo below and think ‘That doesn’t look like a taco!’ Welcome to the wonderful world of gooey rich Tex-Mex cuisine, where tacos can be crispy, folded or rolled and topped with hot chili con queso. Yes, this is the real deal, with no processed cheese product — only rich, buttery melted cheese. It’s similar to what you’d find in those wonderful hole-in-the-wall Tex-Mex dives.

Tex-Mex Cheese Tacos

The rich chili con queso served over Tex-Mex Cheese Tacos is the real deal. Nothing processed. No ‘cheese food product.’

The Tacos
1 lb. – Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 lb. Monterrey Jack or Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 TB –  Chile powder
1 tsp – Oregano
1 tsp – Garlic powder
15 – Corn tortillas (or 30, if you prefer some extra thickness)

Corn oil for a quick fry. (optional)

Combine the cheeses and spices. Soften the corn tortillas by either frying for about 5 seconds per side in hot oil; or by microwaving* for about 5 seconds (2-3 at a time).

Place about 1/3 cup of cheese mixture into softened corn tortilla and roll tightly. Place in a lightly oiled baking dish or pan. Repeat until you’ve rolled all of your tacos.

*If you’ve softened the tortillas using the microwave method, spray the top surface of the rolled tacos lightly with oil or non-stick spray. Cover baking dish tightly with foil.

Preheat oven to 400F.

The Queso
2 TB – Butter
2 TB – All-purpose flour
1 cup – Milk or Half & Half

1 lb –  Shredded melting cheese (Queso Asadero, Manchego, Mozzarella or Provolone)
3 TB –  Chile powder
3 tsp – Oregano
3 tsp – Garlic powder
3/4 cup – sour cream
1 – 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (drained, liquid reserved)

1/2 cup – Fresh cilantro, chopped
3 – green onions, chopped

While oven is preheating, melt butter over medium heat in a 2 qt. saucepan. Add flour and stir constantly for about 15 seconds. Add milk or Half & Half and stir until combined. Add fire roasted tomatoes and spices. Stir constantly until mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.

[Your oven should be preheated by now. Place pan of rolled tacos on center rack and bake until warmed through — about 10 minutes.]

Meanwhile, add cilantro and green onions to sauce. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat. Add sour cream and 1 lb. of melting cheese. Stir until combined. If queso seems too thick, add reserved juice from tomatoes.

Ladle queso over warmed rolled tacos and pretend like you’re eating in a Tex-Mex dive. This goes perfectly with Mexican rice and refried beans. Don’t forget the chips and salsa!

Makes about 15 cheese tacos. Enough for a family of five, with a few for leftovers.


  1. Oh man, I’m totally not judging you for the needle thing because I’m not a big fan either. I’m very squeamish, and that stuff gives me the heeby jeebies! Even at 6 in the morning, your Tex Mex Tacos are makin’ me drool. I’m thinking a vegetarian version is in order!

    • Thank you, Colleen. Hmmm.. If you develop it, I’ll feature it. 😉 It would be my first time featuring a recipe created for vegetarians, but I’m totally down. Are you game?

  2. Thank God I didn’t read this last night. I just got over the irrational fear of needles, and my grandmother gave me a flu shot last night. Not too bad. In fact, the needle puncture wasn’t the painful part — it was the damn solution going in my arm! I growled at her, but it was over before I could even comment on the experience.

    As for the recipes, you make me drool like The Smart Cookie Cook above me. Mexican is the way to a man’s heart, I’ll casually link my girlfriend 🙂


  3. That’s alright. I got into Mom’s deodorant when I was 2 (in my eyes) and the ER staff had to strap me down. Apparently it made such an impression on Mom that when I had to visit the ER when I was 10, she me if they needed the straps. I, of course, remember none of the initial incident. You’re killing me with the tacos and queso…it looks deadly, in a completely heavenly way.

  4. While I don’t have a fear of needles, I still don’t like looking at the nurse pulling out my blood. It’s scary! On one occasion it took the nurse several attempts to find the right vein and I ended up with a horrible bruise mark that lasted weeks.

    … hmm. On second thought, I don’t think that helps, does it? Uhm.

  5. Hey now! I can relate…the last time a woman in scrubs ‘went fishing’ in my arm I shouted (and I do mean loudly) You ARE HURTING ME…she paused only to return to fishing….at which point I said…ummm, yelled, take it out NOW. Another (more skilled) phlebotomist approached and explained the young woman was new. Proceeded to tap my vein lickety split and pain free.

    Not a Fb’er so I’ll just like you here Adam 🙂 Well done on the queso, looks delish. The cheese food product industry is getting whackier than ever. This summer I found a product in a grocery store near the hamburger buns, on a shelf above….no refrigeration, claiming boldly to ‘make it a cheezy burger tonight’ natch the ingredient list contained exactly ZERO milk products….ewww.

  6. Oh my goodness gracious!!!! I am having flashbacks! I was about 10 years old. I had scraped my wrist on a new piece of playground equipment at the park by my house. I didn’t clean it off..that stings! I hid it from my mother. It got infected. Very infected. By time my mother saw it, I had the black streaks of blood poisoning creeping up my arm. That resulted in several shots. And a screaming hissy fit. My mother, the doctor and two nurses to hold me down. It was devastating.

    And the cheese tacos look fantastic!!!

  7. Oh, man, I need those tacos NOW. I don’t suppose you can make up some extras & ship ’em to me? 🙂

    I hear ya on needles–I get really squeamish in clinics and hospitals, and can’t look whenever they’re drawing blood. The last time I had to go to the ER (had a fight with a norovirus & the norovirus won thanks to dehydration), my blood pressure had dropped low enough that when they finally found one of my veins for the IV, I ended up with a bruise that stretched from my middle forearm to above my elbow. Good times.

  8. I’m SO glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t do doctors!! Oh, this post had me cracking up, I can totally relate! In general they have to call someone in to hold me down. I once threatened to kick a doctor in the face as he went in to stitch up a gash on my foot – it’s not my fault, he was coming at me with a needle, it would have been an automatic reflex! (I don’t know why they don’t believe me when I ask to be sedated from the get-go…)

  9. That looks awesome! I love Mexican and so does my girlfriend, I have to try this asap!

  10. juanitascocina says:

    I can give shots. Just sayin’.

  11. Any dish that is oozing with melted cheese gets a thumbs up from me! Your tacos look wonderful!

  12. Adam, sweet Adam… if you only knew how similar we are…. One day when you want to feel queasy, ask me about my anemia and the time it took 4 ER staff members to hold me down so they could get a blood draw from “Fido” (aptly named because my veins roll over and play dead on command)

    Incidentally, I voted for your chili because you rock my world <3

  13. Can’t wait to try this recipe out! It looks great!

  14. Very funny — Your wife must love you very much to still marry you after that blood test for the license 🙂

  15. Would it be unhealthy to consume all that single-handedly? I mean, I’m not saying I will, but… you know. If someone was to eat it. All. By themselves. Would that be… you know… greedy?

  16. Hahahahahahahahahahhaha!!!!! I love your story!

  17. Funny!

  18. I once asked a nurse to give me the damned needle so I could poke myself because I could see the vein clear as day, yet she kept missing it. I appreciate the contrast of the initial rant (and a very fine rant it was) and the versatile Chili Mix. The first story depicts a situation where we are vulnerable and feel we do not control the situation, whereas the Chili Mix segment is just the opposite, a situation where you are in control of infinite possibilities. My conclusion: Avoid doctors and eat lots of Chili Mix. Spicy food is good for your health after. 🙂

  19. OK, big guy, you got my taco vote…dang, anything you do makes angels dance on my tastebuds!! xo Ally

  20. Oh goodness! You’re always so funny. Also, I don’t know if you participate in such things but I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. 🙂 check it out —

  21. Talk about some cheesy tacos! These look SOOOO good!

  22. I cant deal with needles. At all. I bring a stuffed animal with me to hug and sob into. I’m 31. And I have so much anxiety going to the doctor, in fear of needles. three years ago I hurt my back pretty bad. After laying in bed for a week and no improvement, and it so bad getting to the toilet was nearly impossible, I finally went to the doctor. They said “we need to make sure it’s not your kidneys”. and i about lost it and told her i am in enough pain, i cant deal with needles. She then says “i just need to press around them.” Oh. After 3 months of dealing with that nonsense at least 2 days a week, I’m a bit better about going to the doctor. But the anxiety of stabbing (it’s not getting poked with a needle, its a stab) is still pretty bad.

  23. What I love about you…is that you accept (and even celebrate!) your craziness!!

    I accept mine, too! Amen!

    I find embracing our craziness and the craziness of others we love…quite refreshing and liberating…then I don’t need to take myself too seriously either!

    Keep up the very funny confession-craziness!!


  1. […] at The Unorthodox Epicure Adam is sure to do something a little zany with Dad’s Chili (and be proud of it too). His recipe […]

  2. […] and humorous rant about medical encounters of the aggravating kind in a two-part article titled Confession No. 63 — When a patient deserves no patience,where medical concerns give way to musings about a fantastic Chili […]

  3. […] and humorous rant about medical encounters of the aggravating kind in a two-part article titled Confession No. 63 — When a patient deserves no patience,where medical concerns give way to musings about a fantastic Chili […]

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