‘You Can Be an Angel’ newcomers’ needle nightmares

Paige Chua, Joshua Tan, Bonnie Loo and Edwin Goh gear up to play nurses for the very first time

Joshua Tan, Edwin Goh, Bonnie Loo and Paige Chua
Joshua Tan, Edwin Goh, Bonnie Loo and Paige Chua
02 Jun 2018

Joshua Tan, Edwin Goh, Bonnie Loo and Paige Chua

Photos: Tammi Tan

About two weeks after witnessing the bloodshed (okay, so we’re probably being a little over-dramatic about a mere prick) between Zoe Tay, Pierre Png, Desmond Tan and Carrie Wong at their training session for You Can Be an Angel 3, we were back in the same room at Jurong Community Hospital last Friday (June 1) to watch another batch of artistes get some hands-on medical experience.

This time, those involved are all newcomers to the nurse drama: Paige Chua, Joshua Tan (this is also the Ah Boys to Men star’s Channel 8 debut, by the way), Bonnie Loo and Edwin Goh were schooled in the same procedures as the foursome before them, including wound dressing, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and of course, everyone’s favourite, taking blood and giving injections.

However, when the trainer asked if the group would like to try testing each other’s blood sugar levels (which would involve some friendly finger-piercing), she was met with blank – and dare we say horrified? – stares. A totally different reaction from Pierre, who had exclaimed enthusiastically, “We can do that!?”

(Continued on next slide: Who has a fear of needles?)

Bonnie can't even bear to look
Bonnie can't even bear to look
02 Jun 2018

Bonnie can't even bear to look

As it turns out, the two ladies have a crippling fear of needles. It’s so bad for Bonnie that she claimed that she’s only had jabs “one or two times” in her entire 23 (almost 24) years of life. Still, she’s taking on the role like a trooper, even declaring it as an opportunity to challenge herself and pick up some rare skills.

For the boys, on the other hand, that intimidating little spike is no big deal to them. In fact, Joshua had just given blood the previous day with absolutely no qualms (he told us he even stared at the entire process - gulp), and Edwin gamely volunteered his digit for the trainer to puncture for the blood glucose test demonstration.

Well, hopefully, acting in Angel will give Bonnie and Paige a chance to overcome their phobias, just like it did for Zoe. Things already seemed to be looking up for Bonnie when the training session ended.

“Now that I’ve tried [taking blood], it’s actually not as scary as I thought,” she mused. “Once you know what’s going on, you’ll be calmer – but I’m still afraid of full-body check-ups! (laughs)”

Click on for more photos from the training session as well as our interviews with the stars!

Joshua Tan
Joshua Tan
02 Jun 2018

Joshua Tan

Joshua is completely prepared to have his performance in Angel (at least, just the medical procedures) scrutinised and possibly roasted by his friends and former army men who are real nurses. “I’m sure they will sit in front of the TV, take a video of me and be like, ‘Eh, teach you so many times already still so wrong!’ (laughs) They will definitely do this to me!” he chuckled.

Jokes aside, the 27-year-old shared that he intends to hang out with these folks more to find out more about what it’s like to be an actual nurse. “We chill out once in a while but I’ve never really ‘interviewed’ them or asked them in-depth questions about their job,” he said. “I’ll make an effort to sit them down and ask them for tips about their daily work life.”

He’s also started observing nurses (don’t worry, it’s not as creepy as it sounds) during his medical check-ups, such as the one he had the day before. “She’s so casual and calm, and the way she does things is so relaxed, so I was studying her and learning how I can also act as naturally as possible.”

It’s not like Joshua is a stranger to the procedures, having served as a combat medic specialist during his National Service (NS) days six years ago. Back then, he and his army mates practised intravenous (IV) therapy on each other every week, which probably explains why he has become immune to the fear of needles.

Of course, these sessions were far from pain-free. Joshua said that if someone was not careful, the cannula (the small tube through which fluids are administered straight into the bloodstream) could miss the vein and cause an excruciating case of haematoma (swelling of clotted blood), creating a lump the size of a 50-cent coin.

“Most of the us had quite a few of those,” he winced. Our arms feel like mush just imagining it. Shudder.

Paige Chua
Paige Chua
02 Jun 2018

Paige Chua

Did you know that Paige is a certified first aider? The 36-year-old actress enrolled in a first aid course last year, where she learned basic procedures like CPR, wound-dressing, and the best recovery position for someone that has fainted.

Several factors contributed to her decision to take on the training: personal curiosity, filming the terrorist attack scene in When Duty Calls (“I hope it never happens in real life, but if it does, that knowledge would be useful”), and a real-life health scare practically right on her doorstep.

“My neighbour collapsed along my corridor and was having fits. I called 995, but after that, I didn’t know what to do to alleviate her pain and was quite helpless,” she recalled. “Thankfully the ambulance came in five minutes and she’s fine now, but I immediately signed up for the course.”

Dealing with needles, however, was not included in her classes, so she got her first close encounter at the Angel training session. “I hate needles so I don’t look when I get my blood drawn,” she said. “But today, since it was done on an injection training arm, I could watch and have a better understanding of the procedure.”

Paige chalks her phobia up to a pain tolerance that is “not super high”, especially when it comes to “sharp, precise and delicate objects”. “I don’t mind hard massaging like tui na but somehow, I don’t really like needles,” she said.

Even going for multiple acupuncture sessions has done nothing to ease her apprehension. “I used to do acupuncture (for my feminine health and when I injured my knee) and I really hated it! No matter how many times I’ve gone through it, I can never get used to the pain,” she said. “But if I have to do it again then no choice lor, because they honestly really help.”

Bonnie Loo
Bonnie Loo
02 Jun 2018

Bonnie Loo

Bonnie has vivid memories of getting four teeth pulled in preparation for braces when she was in her teens. The singer even dubbed it “the bravest thing” she’d ever done in her life.

So how did she survive those numbing shots? “My parents had to go with me,” she grinned sheepishly. “I need someone there to comfort and soothe me, just like a kid.”

Not exactly the most ideal trait for someone who used to have ambitions of becoming a nurse. “I’ve always felt that nurses are very patient and kind people and thought of trying such a challenging job, but because of [my fear of needles] I didn’t dare to pursue that career path,” she explained.

At least she’ll get a taste of it with Angel – including the tougher technical parts. She visibly struggled a bit during the CPR training, and admitted as much to us later. “The whole body language and counting is hard to master,” she said. “I need to go home and practise!”

Also on her to-do list to gear up for her first nurse role is to go online and watch videos of real-life “Angels”. “I want to familiarise myself with all the procedures so I won’t be confused by what’s going on,” she said. “Some things may look simple, but when you try it, it’s actually quite hard, so I have a lot of homework to do.”

Jiayou!

Edwin Goh
Edwin Goh
02 Jun 2018

Edwin Goh

Edwin is totally cool with needles as long as they are “a reasonable, normal, thin needle”. “There are some very thick ones where you can actually see the hollow part and that’s quite scary,” he said. “I’ve never gotten a jab with that but I once saw someone holding it and it was not fun.”

Also not fun: having someone not be able to find your vein while drawing blood – with the needle already piercing your skin. “My veins are quite prominent, but there was once, I think [the nurse] missed my vein and there was a bit of a stirring motion [with the needle], and that made me quite traumatised,” he recalled. “I hope that never happens again!”

Drawing blood happens to be a task frequently performed by the 23-year-old’s character in Angel, but instead of worrying about having to “dig” inside a person’s flesh with a needle (since it’s unlikely they will perform injections on a real human limb anyway), Edwin is more concerned about memorising the very stringent steps, which he revealed was the most challenging part about the day’s exercise.

One major takeaway from the day’s lessons, according to Edwin, is feeling much safer – or at least less icky – about some medical procedures if he has to go through them again in the future. For instance, when he sees his blood gushing into a syringe tube, he knows it’s the vacuum that sucks the blood out. “I used to think it was me bleeding a lot!” he chortled.

Well, now he knows and so do we – but you certainly won’t find us counting down to our next encounter with a needle.

The actors listen intently to the trainer
The actors listen intently to the trainer
02 Jun 2018

The actors listen intently to the trainer

Edwin's the one getting blood drawn, but Bonnie's the one freaking out
Edwin's the one getting blood drawn, but Bonnie's the one freaking out
02 Jun 2018

Edwin's the one getting blood drawn, but Bonnie's the one freaking out

Bonnie could be on her way to conquering her fear of needles
Bonnie could be on her way to conquering her fear of needles
02 Jun 2018

Bonnie could be on her way to conquering her fear of needles

Bonnie practises injecting insulin
Bonnie practises injecting insulin
02 Jun 2018

Bonnie practises injecting insulin

Edwin tries drawing "blood" from the training arm
Edwin tries drawing "blood" from the training arm
02 Jun 2018

Edwin tries drawing "blood" from the training arm

The trainer teaches the actors how to properly sanitise their hands
The trainer teaches the actors how to properly sanitise their hands
02 Jun 2018

The trainer teaches the actors how to properly sanitise their hands

The actors observe how blood is drawn
The actors observe how blood is drawn
02 Jun 2018

The actors observe how blood is drawn

Joshua tries to mimic the trainer's movements while drawing blood
Joshua tries to mimic the trainer's movements while drawing blood
02 Jun 2018

Joshua tries to mimic the trainer's movements while drawing blood

Edwin and Bonnie get a crash course in CPR
Edwin and Bonnie get a crash course in CPR
02 Jun 2018

Edwin and Bonnie get a crash course in CPR

Bonnie practises CPR on a dummy
Bonnie practises CPR on a dummy
02 Jun 2018

Bonnie practises CPR on a dummy

Paige asks a question during the training session
Paige asks a question during the training session
02 Jun 2018

Paige asks a question during the training session

Joshua and Paige learn how to test a patient's Range of Motion (ROM)
Joshua and Paige learn how to test a patient's Range of Motion (ROM)
02 Jun 2018

Joshua and Paige learn how to test a patient's Range of Motion (ROM)

The trainer demonstrates how to bandage a wound
The trainer demonstrates how to bandage a wound
02 Jun 2018

The trainer demonstrates how to bandage a wound

You Can Be an Angel 3 premieres on October 29, 9pm on Channel 8.

Related:
‘You Can Be an Angel 3’ stars get blood on their hands
Joshua Tan sought tips from Pierre Png ahead of Ch8 debut

Watch past episodes of You Can Be an Angel Too and You Can Be an Angel S2 on Toggle.

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