Wednesday, November 23, 2005

How I became a wimp

In case anybody was wondering how such a strong, sensible grown-up person like me got to be such a wimp when anybody waves a needle in my direction, here is the background story. I haven't always been like this. I was hypnotized into it.

In fact, although I've never liked injections (who does?) I got them regularly as a child because I was always having to get tetanus boosters every time I stood on a rusty nail or cut myself on a bit of old tin or whatever, which was often. I was not an indoor child. There were also the usual childhood vaccinations and so on. I remember grumbling about it, but no more than any normal child, and I certainly never fainted.

I didn't have anything to do with needles from when I was about twelve until I was twenty-one or -two, when I had some problem that required a blood test. I can't remember what the blood test was for but I was not looking forward to it. Then I pulled myself together and told myself I was an adult now and there was nothing to worry about. As a child I could make a fuss and get another lollipop, but as an adult there wasn't much point. It wasn't really a problem, was it? I asked myself, and the answer was no, it wasn't.

I turned up at the clinic for the test, and two middle-aged nurses took me into a little cubicle where I sat and stretched out my arm. They asked me if I was all right with the procedure, and I said I was fine. They stuck the needle into my arm and drew the blood. I sat there chatting with the nurse who was not drawing the blood, not looking at what was going on, and continued to feel fine about it all.

Then the nurse taking the blood told me she'd finished, and I turned and looked at her.

"That was quick," I said.

"It doesn't take long," she replied, then peered into my face, looking anxious. "You're looking very pale, dear. Are you sure you're all right with needles?"

She held up the needle (IDIOT) and I looked at it (IDIOT).

"Needles don't bother me AT ALL," I said.

I came round staring at the ceiling, feeling very, very surprised and a little sick. Eventually I sat up and sipped at the drink one of the nurses brought me. The idiot nurse was terribly concerned.

"If needles aren't the problem, maybe it's blood...?" she said worriedly, pointing to the vial of blood. I looked at where she was pointing. (IDIOT.)

"Oh no, no. Blood has never bothered me," I assured her, and everything went black.

When I came around this time I felt awful, and it took a bit longer to sit up. I was hideously embarrassed and confused, babbling about how needles and blood had never bothered me like this before, why was this happening? The idiot nurse decided to chip in with a new theory.

"That is odd, isn't it?" she said. "Well, if it's not needles and not blood, maybe ... do you suffer from claustrophobia?"

"Never," I said. "How silly." I looked around at the walls of the tiny cubicle, and they folded in on me horrifyingly.

This time, when I regained consciousness, I looked up at the idiot nurse's kindly, concerned face and held out a quavering hand like a stop sign.

"No more ideas, please," I said, weakly. "Just ... don't say anything."

I think she'd run out of ideas by then anyway.

Eventually I felt well enough to leave, although I was really, really cold. It was a cold day anyway, and fainting repeatedly had made me feel weak and chilled. I had never done anything like that before, and it was NOT NICE. The moment I stepped outside my teeth started chattering.

Right next door to the clinic there was a Salvation Army store, so I went in to see if they had any cheap warm clothes I could layer over what I was wearing. The elderly volunteer noticed my pallor and chattering teeth, and asked me if I was all right. I told her what had happened, still not quite believing it myself.

The old darling was aghast. She took me out the back, sat me down in front of a heater and wrapped a blanket around me. She was wonderful. I sat there for an hour or so as I warmed up, thanking her and apologizing for being so pathetic while she plied me with fruitcake and multiple cups of tea. She assured me that she enjoyed the company even of an idiot like me. She didn't get many customers, she said, and it made a nice change to have someone to gossip with. She wouldn't let me leave until I felt completely better and had some colour back in my face.

I wish she'd been the one taking my blood. She would have been MUCH more sensible about it. Instead of, "You're looking very pale, dear," she would have said, "Now, let's have a cup of tea and some fruit cake and a nice gossip," and I would have been JUST FINE.

The idiot nurse's foray into hypnosis was not entirely successful. The claustrophobia did not stick. Nor did the sight of blood bother me after that one time. She still has a lot to answer for, however. I have made a fool of myself repeatedly over needles ever since that incident.


Gordon said...


Sorry, shouldn't laugh I know ...

Tee hee.

sPiRit^dAnCer said...

haha. well. that certainly explains it.

Tara said...

Yeah, I was always the same as a child, and now as an adult I HATE needles and blood tests. My phobia of them came when I had to have 5 vials of blood drawn from my arm during pregnancy at 8.30am. I fainted and when I came round, the nurse tried asking why I hadn't warned her that I wasn't good with needles. I DID warn her, I guess she just wasn't listening.

BerlinBear said...

Great post, BA. And yet, that is truly weird. I guess one should not underestimate the power of hypnosis, especially in the hands of idiot nurses, huh?

The Village Idiot said...

i wonder if these idiots are relatives of mine.

Lippy said...

When I became a blood platelets donor, I successfully overcame my fear of large, scary needles. Unfortunately I wasn't quite as clever with understanding that you should take it easy after a donation. One is likely to faint. Hence I have become overly familiar with staring up at various ceilings... *sigh*

kenju said...

Thanks for the explanation. This reminds me of a nurse who met us at the hospital when I was about to have my first child. She talked incessantly about cats for 30 minutes, as we filled out forms, and I was ready to hit her in the head with my suitcase.

Pearl said...

The road to hell cobbled with helpful phrases...
Salvation Army people are generally stellar folk.

Pkchukiss said...

I on the other hand, have no trouble receiving shots. It is when I have to do the poking that gives me the nerves.