Kvetching, PSAs

How Do You Feel About Sacrificial Bloodletting?

I have White Coat Syndrome.

Doctors, hospitals, and anything containing the word “hemoglobin” terrify me.

This is the real Red Room of Pain.
The real Red Room of Pain.

It all started when I was 15, and had my blood drawn for the first time. They thought I might have mono. (If that’s The Kissing Disease, I was the exception. For some reason, boys didn’t seem to like my braces, glasses, and white tights combo.)

I was nervous, but insisted on going into the office alone. I was fine until the nurse said she needed to take an extra vial of blood, and handed me the one she’d just filled.

It was warm.

With my blood.

Like blood that should be inside of my body, with me blissfully unaware of its temperature.

I mean, seriously. This was seriously next to me during my last doctor's visit.
I mean, seriously. This was next to me during my last doctor’s visit.

A few minutes later, Babs (my mom) found me passed out on the bathroom floor. Since then, I haven’t been able to set foot inside a doctor’s office or hospital without some level of panic. If you were to take my blood pressure results during any of these visits in earnest, I should be dead.

Tell me this doesn’t look like a medieval torture wall.

Now that I’ve reached a point in life where retirement planning is starting to mean something, I’ve decided it’s time to face fears, if only so I can collect big in 29 years.

In the past month, I’ve gone to the dentist twice, the doctor’s once, and I even voluntarily had a small amount of blood drawn for a workplace annual health assessment. And I only cried a tiny little moderate amount!

Where dreams go to die.
Where fears go to die.

On Sunday, I’ve decided to up the ante: I’m donating blood. And I’m making Babs hold the warm vial of blood my hand this time.

Have you ever gotten over a phobia?

P.S. – Things I learned from writing this post: Bloodletting is one word. THAT IS NOT OKAY.


54 thoughts on “How Do You Feel About Sacrificial Bloodletting?”

  1. It sounds like a word someone bloodthirsty would use in a completely different context. But it’s okay to be afraid. I’m afraid of fish myself. At least with someone drawing blood from you – you could explain the terrifying part. Explain this silly phobia. XD

    1. Ooh. This is fascinating. Are you afraid of just live (or dead) fish? Can you go to seafood restaurants? What are your thoughts on sushi? I don’t think anyone likes seeing those lobsters in a tank at the supermarket…

      P.S. – I’m also terrified of scorpions. And public speaking. Maybe I should turn this into a series…

  2. I have no problem with “blood stuff”, as we medical pro’s like to call it, but I’m not a big fan of watching the process of having it sucked out of my arm. Having an MRI, on the other hand, is a special kind of hell. My imagination runs wild as I lay helpless in the deathtube waiting for the 45 minutes to pass (According to the spell-check software here in comments, deathtube is NOT one word).

    1. I’m waiting for the day when someone tells me getting an MRI isn’t completely saneletting (I’m gonna see if I can run with this whole adding ‘letting’ to words…LIKE IT’S OKAY WHEN WE ALL KNOW IT ISN’T OKAY TO “LET” ANYONE’S BLOOD).

      Lexy3587 (below) might have some advice on escapism tactics. Maybe pretend you’re in a rocket ship (oh, so THAT’S not one word, spell check?!), or an alien space pod…

  3. I know that I’m pretty much repeating what everyone else has said but “Eh” I can be un original. But I also have a fear of blood being near, in front or on me. And if this tragic scene occurs I’ll be out cold just like that (If you get my drift). Thanks for telling us your experience and fear, makes me feel well….. 99.1% less gruesome out by blood! 🙂

  4. When I was 16, I was in a car accident and rushed to the hospital. In order to get an IV in me, a nurse poked and prodded my arm trying to find a vein, which was apparently very difficult for her. So instead of getting someone more experienced to do it (which eventually happened), she dug into my arm with the needle, searching around for the vein. Dug. Into. My. Arm. With. A. NEEDLE. Yeah, I was pretty PTSD afraid of needles after that.

    Then I had three babies and had to get over it pretty quickly, because they take your blood about once a week during pregnancy and while you’re in labor, you’re pretty much a human pin cushion.

    1. Wait, did you make it out of the accident okay?! (I HAD TO. But seriously. I’m glad you survived fully intact.)

      That is terrifying. My sister has invisible veins, too. I find it ironic that I’m super veiny and just try to make them invisible to anyone with a needle.

      If I had a dime for every reason I shouldn’t have children… then I could probably afford one. (And the irony continues!)

  5. I was terrified of rats. then, shortly after I got married and we put our house on the market our house became infested with them due to a new highway going in nearby, chasing them all through the dog door, into our basement. We called an exterminator just before my husband had to leave town to start his new job. He left me with the rats. (And the dog who was terrified of them and ran the other way when he saw them)

    I had to clean up the dead ones. Phobia gone. Disgust with rats, however, continues.

    So glad I shared this over breakfast. Yum.

    1. That sneaky little rat! “Business trip” I’m sure! 😉

      This is reminding me of a few mice I had to take care of growing up. Babs has a phobia of dead animals. All dead animals. I think I’m more spooked by the live ones who can sneak up on you. And bite.

      1. Actually, the realtor had locked me out of my house. I had to crawl in through the dog door, knowing that there were live rats that came and went that way. It was terrifying. But once I had done it, I was no longer scared of rats. I was not as fond of my husband, either!

  6. I’m firmly in the ‘if I don’t see it, it isn’t happening’ camp of being bloodlet. And dental surgery. I spend a lot of time really focusing on being elsewhere and shushing the doctor/nurse/dentist who is trying to check that my intense glare at the wall isn’t a sign that I’m dying or in pain (not if you leave me on the beach! Shush!). My dad is in the ‘don’t go to the hospital at all’ camp, which is how 10 year old me ended up spending 3 days with a broken arm and no cast, because he was sure ‘you’ll be fine’.

    Good luck with your donating! Way to grab the bull by the sack of blood!

    1. “Bloodlet” – ha! I will toast to your escapism any day, Lexy, with my cocktail of Xanax and Long Island Iced Teas.

      By the way, are you wearing snow shoes in your gravatar photo? If so, any advice?? I was actually on the LL Bean site when you commented, trying to decide on my first pair!

      1. I am wearing cross-country skis, though I do actually have snowshoes. I bought them on discount at the end of last season, so I only got out in them once. One thing I noticed at the store was that a lot of the brands had a ‘men’s’ and a ‘women’s’ version that were identical, except for colour and about $10 extra on the women’s. Who knew pink was such a more expensive paint colour? The bigger the shoe, the harder it is to walk, but the more you stay on the surface of the snow. So you should try a few pairs on and walk around the store, to see just how cowboy-legged you’re willing to walk. My only other suggestion is to make sure the shoe is easy to adjust the straps on, because you’ll inevitably need to do so with mitts on and snow all up in the straps. I hope you get lots of snow for snow-shoeing!

        1. This is fantastic advice – thank you! I never would have thought about the straps + gloves. I realized right away I’d definitely need to go with man shoes since I am pretty much man-sized (5’9″, size 11 feet)! Maybe I’ll add some chipmunk stickers.

              1. I ended up getting the ‘men’s’ version of a shoe that came in male and female. I liked the colours more on it, and the -$10 bill was also nice 😛 I haven’t had any problem walking in them, but the industry clearly thinks we are the delicate half of the species, which we clearly are not ! 😀

  7. What a great blog! I used to fear giving blood, seeing my kids have blood drawn, looking at it. I fainted when my daughter had blood drawn once. I got over it about 6 years ago because I wanted to donate to the blood drive at the Eagles training camp. They gave away a lot of Eagles gear so I did it. I didn’t look til the very end, A huge bag- of my blood. I looked slowly, and decided it looked cool. I was proud of myself and I still have all the Eagles gear. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Claudia! You are woman after my own heart! I wanted to donate blood tomorrow at a place near my office because they said they were giving away local restaurant gift certificates, but I thought asking my boss to come hold my hand probably wasn’t wise. I think I get a cookie and orange juice on Sunday, though. Would they frown upon my bringing champagne?

  8. My husband had the same phobia. He’s much better. It’s almost as though he didn’t have a choice. He had some serious health issues and after his usual panic attack, a doctor told him, “Look, you aren’t getting younger. You’re getting older. Body parts will continue to malfunction. Don’t you want us to fix them?” And he decided that he did.

    1. Yes! I want to be one of those people who has a health issue and thinks, “Let’s go to the happy place where they make it all better!” instead of, “Ehhh, that mole isn’t really changing color…”

  9. If it makes you feel the slightest bit better, I am absolutely terrified of raw cotton. I can’t handle the texture, the sound it makes when you touch it or how it just sits there. Taunting you. And I live smack in the middle of two cotton fields. DISGUSTING! I also cannot handle any sort of cotton batting in blankets or pillows. When it starts coming out, it goes in the trash and I buy a new one. Gah!

    1. So cotton is definitely NOT the fabric of your life. Got it.

      (I HAD TO.)

      I think this one has got to be unique to someone with blatant exposure to raw cotton, as in your case. Girls from the Jersey suburbs think cotton comes from the Target fairy and is just plain magical.

      Would you ever move because of it?

      1. Hahaha definitely NOT the fabric for me!!! I can tell everyone first hand that is DOES NOT grow from the target trees! Instead it spawns from the depths of hell! Like the south! And as long as the cotton stays on its side of the driveway, I am okay! Now if it mutates and starts trying to take over my home…… Bye Felicia!

    1. When I embarked on this little ‘conquer your phobia’ crusade, I chose a dentist’s office called The Apprehensive Patient, but in reality they do nothing to cater to the apprehensive patient. (They were really nice, though.) They want me to get a wisdom tooth pulled. I’m thinking about doing it just so I can videotape myself on pain meds (anything for the blog).

  10. I have six doctors, and they all have their ways of putting me over the edge. Four I have to see every six weeks The other two twice a year. Blood draw needed for everyone.I feel your pain. (Literally)

  11. Brave sentiment, but please make sure the donation service is willing to take someone who’s prone to passing out. The last thing some poor nurse needs is a sick/unconscious person taking up the chair where the regular donors should be (I was told by the Red Cross that I shouldn’t donate because of hemophobia. It’s a real inconvenience to them).

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Steph! Were you already there and they sent you home? I was planning on letting them know about my fear as soon I got there, and am not expecting to pass out (I didn’t the last two times I’ve had a small amount of blood drawn). I’m seriously bringing Babs as insurance, too, but I certainly don’t want to be a burden!

      1. I let them know and they kind of brushed it off and went for it anyway. …when I woke up a very pissed nurse told me not to come back if I knew that was going to happen every time. 😓 It might be a better idea to call ahead of time to let them know, and ask whether they have someone on hand willing to deal with it (of course tell them you’ll have someone with you for support). Good luck!

        1. I’m so glad you shared that with me and I’m sorry you had that experience – crummy all around! I definitely wouldn’t have anticipated that outcome, but it’s ENTIRELY possible for Sunday. Fantastic suggestion!

  12. Like Dave (1pt perspective) we medical professionals can handle about any body fluid or substance…it’s in our blood (I had to!!!). Ahem. However, here in this land I lovingly call The Swamp there is no shortage of creepy crawlers, slitherers and jumping critters. I had a tree frog – you know the kind that have the sticky feet – jump and land in my freaking hair. The scream was epic and I may have peed a little in my pants. I couldn’t get the little bastard out because he had twisted his knobby sticky toes into my hair. Every morning when I go out to feed my dog there is a gauntlet of the little f’ers lined up on the garage walls just waiting for me. I stare them down and dash for the garage door. The next one that lands on me will die.

    Thank you for donating blood, there is always a need. I started donating blood as a young woman when my mother was seriously ill and needed transfusions and until I became anemic, I have donated 8 gallons over the years. I hope it will go smoothly. After….you can get drunk really fast due to the reduced blood volume in your body. Not that I have ever done that…

    1. Listen to Katie, because she’s funny AND smart. We used to sell our plasma in college, then take the money and go for happy hour at the local bar – two-for-one on White Russians. Boy, do those hit you when you’re down a pint.

  13. Good for you, Jules!

    I used to give blood for years. I had a VIP Faithful Donor card from the Red Cross because I could be counted on to come every 8 weeks. I indulgently sneered at the sweet young things semi-passed out on their cots and raced the other long-timers to see who could fill a bag first. I would finish strong and jump up to enjoy my complementary warm lemonade and the cake homemade by the old lady canteen volunteers.

    Then one day I started to feel sick during the process. I, for once, was the one on the cot with the feet elevated. Same thing happened the next couple of times and then it was a self-fulfilling thing – I was so worried I would get sick and pass out that I almost did every time. I haven’t given blood in about 10 years now. 😦

    1. Yes – that’s exactly what happens after anyone’s first fainting/panic attack spell! And the whole thing is so traumatic, you start avoiding whatever originally triggered it, because it turns into a never-ending cycle. Which explains why I missed a year of middle school. And all of high school. Oops.

      Want to try again with Babs holding your hand?

  14. My 5-year-old dream job was nursing. Yup. I wanted to “help people.” But I had this little problem. I couldn’t stand the sight of a needle in flesh (mine or another person’s), so I had to close my eyes–not good practice for a nurse. I’m better now, but it’s too late for me to go to nursing school (I’m nearly ready for a nursing home!). And I still have this paralyzing worm phobia…

  15. I don’t like doctors, don’t like needles, and prefer not to see blood. I’ve never had a normal BP reading at a doctors office, but it’s fine if I take it at home or when I’m out. You’d think at my age I would be beyond this but this will never get better. Heights and doctor’s…I can do without both.

  16. Girl, I have a blood disorder that calls for 6 vials at one time and they charge me a $75 copay to donate blood (seriously though my blood is awesome for anyone but me). I’m seriously the only woman dreading menopause because it’s going to cost me money.

  17. When I was little – like 4th grade-ish, I went with my mom when she donated blood. I watched the needle go in my mom’s arm and blood come out through the tubing……and I passed out. Right there. *boom*

  18. What’s terrifying is that nurse handing you the vial of blood!!! I would have passed out too. That’s a little much.

    I have passed out from a blood draw, but I think that had to do with it being the morning and fasting for the blood draw and just not having high enough blood pressure to keep my body going during the process. I do feel sorry for the tiny Russian nurse I passed out on though! I have no idea how she got me to the floor without taking her out as well.

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