Friday, September 01, 2006


So I don't have anything in particular to post at present, but I am blessed by a moment of idleness at work, so feel it incumbent upon me to put something new on the site so that those who may check with any regularity will not feel entirely neglected. All 9 of you.

Let's see - went to the doctor for a full physical this week, had some blood work done... Ah! a topic presents itself:

I had a particularly sadistic pediatrician as a child. I'm sure he was no worse than other pediatricians of his era, but me and my sisters were all traumatized by what seemed excessive Needling, and one of my few childhood memories is of seeing my sister Amy pass out while having her finger pricked, as she was being held by the nurses. Followed by a memory of having a shot in my thigh for an ear infection, and screaming and trying to push away the nurse's hands.

After this childhood immunizations were done with, my mom felt that we had been tortured enough, and we didn't set foot in that office for years. In our teens, we were "taken in" by one of the kindest, most excellent pediatricians in Nashville (Dr. Lentz) but the damage had been done, and our phobia of needles was fully grown. From that point on, the doctors office was to be avoided at all costs unless I was fairly certain the issue at hand didn't require a Needle.

I should mention at this point that this fear didn't extend to Dentistry; we had a wonderful dentist as children and even now, I'm often so relaxed in the dentist chair that I can doze off briefly.

ANYway, I managed to get the dreaded tetanus shot for college, but had avoided all other Needling until I applied for Grad Schools in my mid-twenties, when a blood test was required for one of my applications. No no no no no. No. [wail] Don't wanna! [/wail] But it must be done. And by this time of my life, I had figured out that avoidance of fears only bred more fears and trouble for the future, so I made arrangements at the school infirmary.

This was a good thing, I discovered. It didn't feel like a doctor's office, and the nurse who was drawing blood was an acquaintance from campus, so I didn't feel so intimidated - it felt more ordinary. And I had decided that I needed to be distracted from the process as much as possible, so I asked her if I could sing while she did it, which tickled her. So I belted out "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess, which suitably distracted my mind from the task at hand. And I discovered that having blood taken wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as a shot.

But what was even better was the absolute EUPHORIA I felt once it was over; I had DONE the dreaded thing! I've never been one for setting goals or overcoming obstacles, and I am quite content to let most impasses stay impassive. But wow! The feeling of accomplishment over that one little Needle was phenomenal. I floated around for over 24 hours. Each year since then, it has become less and less of an ordeal to be feared, and more of a "oh darn" situation... I still don't like it and would avoid it whenever possible, but if it is required, I don't fall into a depression or sleeplessness for a week beforehand anymore.

I did have one setback a few years back - now that I didn't dread the process so much, I felt like I could finally give blood without panicking, so I signed up at the Red Cross and went over during lunch one day. It... did not go well. All was fine until they'd disconnected me and I was having a little can of juice. I asked them if I could have some more grapefruit juice, and they looked at me oddly and said, "We don't have any grapefruit juice, we only have orange juice." Odd, I thought, and then dreamed of jam, Entertainment Weekly, bees and whatnot, at which point three figures in white stood over me saying "Susan? Susan!"

I came to with a sickening rush, and realized I had passed out. My feet were propped up, and I felt cold and sick. They gave me all the usual stuff - more juice, cookies - but I could not get up without feeling dizzy. They finally asked me if they could shift me over to a place by the wall, as they needed my station. Techs who had gone on a coffee and smoke break returned and said "what, you're STILL here?"

Finally, we decided to put me in a wheelchair and roll me out to my friend's car (thank GOD I had asked him to come along at the last minute!) where I laid down in the back seat, and he drove me home after running by Wendy's for a supersized meal for me. I was weak and wobbly for the next 36 hours. I've never given blood again since.

Have I ever mentioned my terror of passing out...? No?

1 comment:

Mike Howell said...

After last year's bout of illness, I was sure any needle nervousness I had was gone. I had been poked and repoked so many times that week that I just didn't see how I could passibly care anymore. This past Monday, as part of a life insurance purchase, a phlebotomist came to my house for a blood draw. I was actually nervous that I might be nervous about it. As it turns out, I wasn't in any way nrevous at the moment of truth. After a lumbar puncture a week of repeated IV's, no needle is all that bad anymore it turns out.