I remember the day when my counselor was like, "Hey! You have a phobia of needles."'
Growing up, my parents spent lots of time (and money, I suspect, as well) taking me to see a counselor. I was a dysfunctional child to the extreme and they realized that they couldn't help get me to where I needed to be on their own.
She worked with me and my family through all sorts of coping mechanisms and tools that I still use to this day. She never put an emphasis on the diagnosis, she just did what she could to teach me how to understand my body and what was going on.
Phobia of the needles, though, we didn't work long on that one - mainly just diagnosed it.
My fear came from when they did blood work on me when I was probably around 9 years old. "I've never done this on a child before," the nurse said as she started to dig around for my veins. The experience was horrifying for me and I've spent over a decade convincing myself that needles aren't so bad.
I don't faint around needles - I just tend to cry a bunch and breath crazy and... we'll get there in a second.
Since then, my experiences haven't been so sweet.
I had hypothyroidism as a kid. It's not too rare in adults but in kids, it's quite uncommon. Blood tests were the norm, something I was never comfortable with. I used to stiffen up my limbs and run around Childrens' Hospital, in Seattle, pretending I was living with a developmental disability and trying to avoid getting stuck by a needle. My mom was horrified by the act.
For many years, I was given EMLA which was a magic cream that totally numbed the skin. With this, I couldn't feel a thing. Once the actual needle was in, I loved to watch my blood get sucked out.
In the past bit, I've gotten a tattoo, had a tetanus shot, and had my blood drawn - but I hadn't donated blood.
I've always meant to but usually there was something in the way such as I...
- weighed too little (in high school)
- had gotten a tattoo in the past year
- I would start crying when I entered the room
This time, though, I knew it could and would happen. I told myself it wouldn't be a big deal.
This month, I've been trying to work on conquering as many fears as I can conjure up.
I saw the signs in the Village that they were collecting blood that day, so I walked in and signed up. I didn't know they would ask so many questions about my life. The longest part of the entire procedure was when they needed to know which countries I had visited in the past year. First she had to hear them all, then check each country on a list, then enter them all into the computer (Russia, Norway, Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Iceland).
During the whole time there, I was asked my age at least eight times by five different people.
After more reading and more questions, it was time for the big moment... which wasn't so big.
I was handed a squishy star in a glove to squeeze and my veins were admired - nice and big and juicy, ready to be bled out.
It felt weird, but not bad.
Not horrible at all.
Kind of hilarious, actually -- I liked seeing my blood run into a bag. All of my blood in there! It's outrageous!
When it was time to stick the needle in, I was told to go to my happy place. I started to sing the first song that came to mind, "Two and two are four, four and four are eight, eight and eight are sixteen, sixteen and sixteen are thirty-two..."
Happy place indeed.
And, quite quickly, it was all over. The human wrapped my arm up in tape and I was almost set to go... when I sat up, I felt light headed so they had me stick around on the bed for a bit before sending me off to get my juice and cookie.
I'm glad it went well because I don't like be ruled or controlled by fear over things not worth fearing.
I'd like to think that I've conquered my irrational fear of needles. I think I have because getting a lot of blood drawn, for me, is sort of the Big King of All Needles-Things. I didn't feel panic-y yesterday. Not calm, but I felt ok.
The next day was odd, I was a bit light headed when I walked up tiny little hills, but all was ok and fine when I would put food and water in my body and rested a bit. Hope someone enjoys that blood...