Recent Entries
You Are Not a Tree
Summer Vacation: Tips for Traveling with CHD
How Do You Start Your Morning?
Balancing Parenting & Congenital Heart Disease
The First Five Years
My Journey to a Grateful Life
Now What?
Medical Home Sweet Home
Still Cliché’?
To My Village: Thank You


The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

Don’t Panic—It’s Just Blood

Oct 10

Posted by: ACHA
10/10/2011 12:11 PM  RssIcon

By Clare Almand

My freshmen year of college, I was required to take a course on public speaking. We had to present one persuasive speech at the end of the semester and I chose to speak about giving blood, which is very near and dear to my heart—pun intended. During the middle of my speech, which I thought was going well, a tall and lanky student slid out of his chair and hit the floor.

I know that when people usually faint, it’s involuntary, but it’s one of those things that I’ve always wondered about. Why blood and needles? Is it just healthy people who feel this way because they rarely have their blood drawn? Is constant exposure to hospitals the reason why those things don’t bother me? And because I don’t get queasy at the sight or talk of blood or when someone breaks out a needle, what exactly would make me faint?

I used to think it was pretty lame to have a phobia of needles. One birthday in high school, I asked my friends to give blood instead of getting me presents. Giving blood is something that I desperately wish I could do, but because I’m on blood thinners, I can’t. I don’t think anyone actually did it, but one friend in particular said she couldn’t because she was so afraid of needles that she would start shaking. My immediate reaction was that that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Clearly she’s too healthy and lives a much too sheltered life (I, of course, live a similarly sheltered life, except for every couple years I have my chest cut open). I thought maybe if she just went ahead and got her blood drawn, she wouldn’t have such an issue with it.

Then I realized that everyone has that something that makes their blood pressure skyrocket. For me, it’s driving in places that I’m unfamiliar with and parking in general. And I’m exposed to driving and parking every day and it still causes me anxiety to have to park in a garage where I don’t have an assigned space.

Heart surgery? I won’t even break a sweat. But ask me to drive to a different part of town and I have to use Mapquest and GPS and bring a friend. And yes, everyone makes fun of me for it.

So these days, I try to be less judgmental, because I don’t really know what’s going on with anyone else but myself. Maybe my constant exposure to hospitals is the reason why blood doesn’t bother me, but maybe not. Maybe I’m just one of those people who can handle needles and cannot handle driving.

The other day I was thinking about calling that friend with a proposition: “I’ll drive you to the hospital, if you’ll donate blood.” If she says yes, it would be a triumph for both us. We’ll celebrate with sedatives.

Clare Almand was born with Shone’s syndrome and has undergone a repair for coarctation of the aorta, multiple atrial septal defect and ventricular septal defect repairs, aortic valve replacement and an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator implantation. She has a B.A. in Media Arts and Design with a minor in Creative Writing from James Madison University. Clare pushes paper during the day and writes screenplays in her spare time. Click here to visit her blog.

Tags: Clare Almand
Location: Blogs Parent Separator ACHA Blog

6 comment(s) so far...


Re: Don’t Panic—It’s Just Blood

Clare, at first I thought this post was going to be about receiving blood. But in a way it really is. I can't give blood either due to the same reasons, but if I could I would definitely give blood. When I was younger, because of my religious beliefs, I didn't accept blood, even during two of my ectopic pregnancy operations. But as I grew into my own belief system, I feel, for me, it would be kind of hypocritical not to accept someone's life saving gift of blood. In fact, there was one time I really needed to have blood and I didn't hesitate then. I was thankful that someone kindly gave their blood for me and that it was available. I appreciate your post here and hope that I don't offend anyone if I have.

By Stephie on   10/10/2011 1:15 PM

Re: Don’t Panic—It’s Just Blood

I totally relate to this post.... I can deal with needles and shots but absolutely can't give them to myself, even after taking a class to learn when I needed daily shots during my pregnancy and when I was going through surrogacy. I also love the idea of asking people to donate blood in honor of your birtday -- I have a big birthday coming up and maybe I'll think of some type of "charitable" request too. BTW - I also HATE parking! Driving is not prblem, but everytime I have done damage to my car it's been getting into or out of a parking space.

By Alissa on   10/10/2011 3:14 PM

Re: Don’t Panic—It’s Just Blood

The Red Cross brings their blood bank to work twice a year and every time they come I say "I'm too busy" or "I don't want to get tired", or "I'll do it next time, maybe if I'm not too busy or I'm not tired already". What a wimp. God forbid I'd look silly lying on that gurney in front of all those judgmental phlebotomists!
Thank goodness for GPS's, self awareness and a pretty writer with the guts to blog about it! Thanks!

By Gene Flood on   10/10/2011 8:53 PM

Re: Don’t Panic—It’s Just Blood

Great post. I hope all is well. Love your pic. Zena

By Zena Thomas on   10/10/2011 9:42 PM

Re: Don’t Panic—It’s Just Blood

Clare - a wonderful post written by an amazing young woman. Just an FYI, my mother was an RN who worked for the Bloodmobile back in the day. Those who pass out at the sight of blood (or hearing descriptions of such) may have leftover primeval instincts, now known as "vasovagal syncope" or "blood-injury phobia." Apparently our primitive ancestors who confronted others coming at them with blood-letting weapons, would faint. Falling to the ground, the enemy would run by, thinking they were already dead! So it is likely an underlying primitive reflex. Some animals do this, too. One can overcome by exposure to the dreaded object of fear, a common treatment for phobia!

By Sharon Davis on   10/16/2011 1:24 PM

Re: Don’t Panic—It’s Just Blood

Awesome post! I really appreciated your honesty AND humor...keep those blogs coming! My panic --- daily exchanges with my beloved NJ drivers zigging and zagging to get a whole car length ahead of me. And then, to make it even more "super fun", slamming their brakes on while they attempt to drive 60 in the slow lane!
Can't make this stuff up (:

By Darby on   10/21/2011 12:19 PM

Your name:
Gravatar Preview
Your email:
(Optional) Email used only to show Gravatar.
Your website:
Security Code
Enter the code shown above in the box below
Add Comment   Cancel