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?