Vampire Bats

Seems like a more appropriate title for a post from last week, no?

Yesterday, I attempted to be a responsible, health-conscious adult.

Yesterday, I failed pretty spectacularly at it.

There was a free campus blood draw & test (the kind where they take your blood and then mail you an analysis of all of those things adults are supposed to know and monitor: cholesterol and glucose and triglycerides and so on), and I decided that I would go. (Not only because doing so would help along a program we have for reducing one’s insurance premiums, but because I’d never done so before, and I would like to know what’s going on with my hemoglobins.) Friends of mine were also going, and so it was going to be a group activity and, because I was expected there, I couldn’t chicken out. (Believe me, I thought about it.)

You see, I have an incredible aversion to needles. It’s not the pain level (it’s really a very tiny pinchy feeling), but it is the kind of pain and the concept of it. It’s invasive, and having teeth drilled doesn’t freak me out even a third as much. Also, it’s traumatic: I have small veins, and I have blood that doesn’t really want to come out of them. My one trip to the Red Cross Blood Drive left me with a collapsed vein and a full hyperventilation. How very embarrassing, on top of everything else.

I reasoned that yesterday would be different because they weren’t trying to fill a bag; it was just a wee test-tube. I was nervous, though, and just holding my arm underside-up is enough to give me palpitations. The elbow is there to bend and protect, like the knee, and I don’t even like to look at the insides of my elbows, let alone bare them for needles. It’s against every instinct I have.  But I survived the stab, and I felt the needle withdraw, and I was relieved. I hadn’t cried, I hadn’t hyperventilated, and it was over.  And then I was told (because I certainly wasn’t looking at the process) that she’d missed, and rather than stab me again, I was to be sent to Roanna, two tables down, who was an expert, and she’d get it in the other arm, no problem.

Roanna did, indeed, get the blood lickety-split, with no fishing or anything, but the damage was done, so to speak. While I didn’t hyperventilate (thank God) this time, I teared up, I shook, and I was thoroughly mortified (because there’s nothing like being sniffling and blotchy in front of people you’ve only just met).

Luckily, there was a good 2.5-hour cushion between that and my needing to teach, so I sat in my office and answered e-mails until I calmed down, and then I had coffee with one of the friends who went along and tried very valiantly to be comforting and cool about the whole thing. And I survived. But I’ll be wearing long sleeves and avoiding my own elbows for days.

Here’s the question for discussion, then: how does one get over fear of something if doing the thing consistently contributes to the fear?

2 thoughts on “Vampire Bats

  1. In response to the question, it is one I have asked myself a hundred times before and suspect I will never have a good answer to.

    You did better than I think I would have, though.


  2. Koonsfather a/k/a Flamingrabbit was once in the same boat. He had to lie down to have blood drawn, because he was prone to fainting during or afterward, and he had to be taken to the appointment, because he would be too woozy to drive himself home. This no longer happens. We aren't entirely sure why, but think the syndrome just burned itself out somewhere along the road to agedness. (He didn't have wimpy veins or reluctant blood on top of it, though.) Perhaps if you were to volunteer as a training aid to fledgling phlebotomists…well, no…sorry.


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