By Clare Almand
10 Oct

Don’t Panic—It’s Just Blood

Monday, October 10, 2011

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.


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