Thursday, January 17, 2008

Two Phobias

I have two phobias. There are a lot of things that can make me anxious, but only these two have the power to induce physical symptoms despite my most stubborn willpower. These are: being poked with hypodermic needles and anything to do with uncontrolled bleeding.

Funny thing is, I have a high tolerance for things that would make other people squirm. I have no problems with mice, spiders, snakes, or any other of God's fine creatures. OK, yes, when I lived in the horrible basement apartment with giant cockroaches, I wasn't exactly thrilled to find one burrowing in my duvet. But I could control my disgust and deal with the situation.

I can also handle operations and freaky illnesses on TV (although sometimes I do watch from between my fingers). It takes a lot to seriously gross me out.

But give me a tetanus shot, and I'll go all faint. It doesn't matter that I can't even feel the needle . It doesn't matter how stoic my thoughts are. Even if I don't look, I get that woozy feeling and I know I'm in trouble.

If I'm asked to give a blood sample, it's the same thing times ten. I always ask to lie down for the procedure, because I'll end up horizontal anyway. It's easier to start out that way than to play brave and pass out in a chair.

I wish that positive self-talk could help. I can be so psyched for a situation, like, Come on, girl, it's just a little pinprick! Button up and get it over with! I'll be fine, fine, fine, oh wait, there's a needle... then I start to get this sick, tight feeling between my shoulderblades, my head starts to spin, and that's that.

The worst part of it is how it prevents me from helping other people. There's just no way I could give blood. And the one time I accompanied a friend for a minor surgical procedure was a complete embarrassment.

Before my friend even got called in from the waiting room, I overheard another patient telling her friend about a hemorrhaging problem. Uh oh. I knew I was in trouble. I got up to leave the room, and made it about half-way to the door before I collapsed into a helpless heap on the floor. A big, burly nurse with a buzz-cut told me curtly that I'd have to move because I was blocking the fire exit. I murmured pathetically "I... can't..." She went off and got a second tough-ass nurse. They each grabbed one of my elbows and hauled me, heels dragging, into a spare room, and threw a heating pad on me. Then they left me to stew in my humiliating uselessness.

When the procedure was finished, my friend was sitting up on her cot in the recovery area, chipper as a budgie, chatting away with her neighbours. She looked none the worse for wear. She thanked me for coming to support her, without any hint of irony. Yeah, right, I was so "there for her".

I have tried hypnotism, to no avail. And don't ask me why I'm fine with acupuncture. Those needles aren't hollow, so somehow that makes it OK. I just don't get it.

17 comments:

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I dislike needles, but have become used to them as I got older and every doctor I met seemed to want a little piece of me. Sounds like your phobia is a little more serious, but we all have our fears. Maybe if you have to get a shot or something they can give you a pill to calm you down first.

Mighty Mouse said...

Maybe it's genetic. I'm hopeless when it comes to needles and worse when they want to suck out my precious life's blood. I tell the nurse that I'm a big baby and look away (eyes closed just in case) and it still bugs me. I tried to donate blood once. but when I almost fainted they told me I was too much of a bother and please don't come back,thank you very much. Now, if it's your blood that's being taken, or you getting a needle, that's a whole other story. And I don't mind acupuncture either. One of life's little mysteries, I guess.

Keera Ann Fox said...

OK, doesn't this mean that you were a lab animal in a past life? Or abducted by aliens in a UFO when you were younger? Don't you have a day from when you were 20 that you don't remember a thing from? And that was not due to a really good party, I mean? There's a reason for everything! (I won't go into why one has a fear of spiders without ever being bitten by one or caught in one's web.)

Karen said...

Needles are a common phobia, I think. At least you can feel good that you will never be a heroine user. (Unless you snort that??? I thought you shoot that one. I am not really too smart when it comes to drugs - I guess that is a good thing though.) :)

jameil1922 said...

wow. i can't give blood because my vein constrict after 5 mins turning a 10-13 min. experience into 25 and painful. i don't know what i'm afraid of other than rape. i don't like mice/rats but i wouldn't say i'm afraid of them.

R.E.H. said...

That sounds like full blown phobia you got there. Did you faint simply because you overheard that conversation?

I've got a tremendous fear of hights... bordering on phobia, I guess. I try to overcome it by climbing some things - I have to do it at work - but every time my legs start to tremble as soon as I'm like 2ft. above the floor.

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: One time I had a procedure done involving a HUGE needle. They gave me Ativan, and I still had to bite my knuckles to keep from screaming. I was really proud of myself for surviving that ordeal!

Mighty Mouse: I never knew! Now at least while I'm fainting I can find comfort in a family connection. ;-)

Keera: I have actually considered past-life explanations for my phobias. Of course there can never be any proof either way, but it's an interesting hypothesis. And the UFO abduction scenario also did cross my mind at one point. I read a book of abduction stories and I almost fainted several times while reading them. But in the end I decided not to accept that as part of my reality. It's just too far out for me.

Karen: Yes, you have a good point there. Although I'd better pray that I never become diabetic!

Jameil: Constricting veins. Ick. Sounds awful.
I believe that you have no phobias. You come across as a fearless woman. :-)

R.E.H.: Wow, that's got to be tough. Do you find it restrictive? I used to do rock climbing. The highest climbs I were 60 feet, and I loved it!

Sparkling Red said...

R.E.H.: I missed answering your question. Yes, I did faint simply from overhearing a graphic conversation. Crazy, isn't it?

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

hahaahah just the way you started this blog made me laugh. I share the same phobias.

Jenski said...

I was having my hand stitched up once and I calmly informed the cute ER doctor that I was going pass out. He lowered my head and told me I was very brave. I was maybe 23 at the time. :) That's rough getting woozy at the thought of a needle though!

kate said...

You must have had a bad experience with hypodermics at some point that started the fear.

The only thing I really can't stand is driving in a car with a big black snake. Thankfully it has only happened once. Once was enough ...

I hope your week is going well!

Sparkling Red said...

Chelsea: Cool! It's good to know I'm not alone. :-)

Jenski: You're a toughie. I'd need to be tied down to endure stitches.

Kate: Well, there you go! What are the chances of that happening more than once in a lifetime? Probably very, very low. You got it over with, and now you can relax forever.

Kell said...

Wow, that's really bad. But you can do acupuncture? Hmm. Well, those are very thin, aren't they?

I don't have a problem with needles but it was by necessity. When my hubby was going through chemo for testicular cancer, I had to give him shots to up his white blood cell count. Then I got diagnosed with MS, so now I give myself a shot every week. I'm afraid to let anyone else give me that shot--it's a control thing.

Sparkling Red said...

Kell: I guess if you have to get used to it, you'll get used to it, but geez, what challenges you have been through! (And ongoing.) Not needing to have injections is a luxury of lucky good health. I'm grateful for it.

San said...

Yeah, it's weird how phobias choose their victims. I'm OK with needles and a little blood. But DO NOT bring a mouse within a 5-mile radius or I will be miserable. And you wouldn't want that, would you?

Sparkling Red said...

San: I have a friend who has a terrible time with mice - and found out that her new apartment houses many of them. She lives alone, so she has no one else to deal with the invaders. I am proud of her for handling the situation as bravely as she has. :-)

Sparkling Red said...

San: I have a friend who has a terrible time with mice - and found out that her new apartment houses many of them. She lives alone, so she has no one else to deal with the invaders. I am proud of her for handling the situation as bravely as she has. :-)