Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I had to go get blood drawn today.

Routine checkup on the kidney function, etc.

I hate having my blood drawn.

I hate needles.

It’s weird. My arms have been poked and prodded tons of times.

Blood here.

An IV there.

Every time I get the same foreboding feeling.

I’ve never looked either.

I’m thankful for any type of noise too because I’m so afraid of being able to hear my blood hit the tube.

It’s not so much the fear of needles though.

Maybe it’s just the fear of blood.

I remember when I was a kid and I passed out when I sliced my finger open with an Exacto knife.

I passed right out.

I used to tell the nurses and phlebotomists about my fear of needles.

“Just don’t let me look,” I’d say.

“Don’t like needles, huh?”

Why do people ask questions when they already know the answer?

Awkward laugh.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Well, let’s see. Ahh….ducks. You like ducks?”

They always want to start talking about something with the hope that it will distract you.

I’m not making that up either.

A nurse actually started talking about ducks one time.

Their voices sound so funny too.

Like they’re struggling not to say the wrong thing.

Like they’re at a job interview.

Or a funeral.

The best times I ever got my blood drawn were during my hospital visits.

I was always on pain meds or some kind of sedative so I didn’t feel a thing.

One time a med student blew my vein completely though and that was awful.

The bruise it left was crazy.

My fear of needles started during childhood.

I used to cry every time I had to “get a shot” and would ask if needles would be on the doctor’s agenda for me.

I can remember my mom even lying to me about it one time.

It’s funny to be so afraid of something so small too.

I think about how a lot of our fears are of things that we’re way bigger than.

I’m talking about those little fears.




But things like death and being alone….

Well, those are way bigger than us.

In my teens and early twenties I started to develop a fear of getting stuck.

It didn’t matter in what situation.

I just never wanted to be there.

Maybe all the needles in my life have all been metaphors.

So, the phlebotomist today was told about my needle fear.

“Just don’t let me look,” I say.

“Aww, there’s nothing to it. I don’t know when you last got blood drawn but they have tools now so that you don’t even feel it.”

“I had it back in May. And I had an IV last week.”


“Sometimes I feel it, sometimes not. Depends on the person. I just don’t like looking at the blood.”

She says what they all say then.

“Well, you have good veins.”

I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment or not and I stopped saying “thank you” to that years ago.

I just turn my head because I know the inevitable is about to happen.

I feel the needle go in and then she laughs suddenly.

It’s one of those inopportune times.

I don’t want to look.

Maybe something is funny about my blood hitting the tube.

Maybe there’s a weird expression on my face.

Maybe a random funny line from a sitcom she watched last night just jumped into her head at that moment.

“I can always tell when they feel it,” she says.

“Oh yeah?” I ask.

“Yeah. The foot starts going.”

I look down to see my left foot swinging back and forth.

“Every time.”

I curse myself internally for letting the fear consume me and am relieved when she places the Band-Aid over my dot sized wound.

I don’t know how.

But I’ve survived it once again.

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