I've been afraid of needles for as long as I can remember. I hate getting shots (although I did get a tetanus shot this week too, but that's another story), still get queasy giving Ross his insulin twice a day, and the thought of acupuncture is enough to send me over the edge. Blood tests are often more than I can handle because it's difficult to hit a vein, so I end up with bruises all over both arms and I bleed slowly.
Giving blood has been out of the question for two decades. I last gave blood on April 8, 1992 in college and I was terrified. (No, I didn't know the exact date, LifeSource did today). The phlebotomist couldn't find the vein and when she finally hit it, I bled at a pace slower than molasses. I started hyperventilating and a friend arrived just in time to distract me and keep me company while the
vampire phlebotomist sucked a pint of blood out of me. Since then, I've come close to giving blood a few times, but always chickened out.
Last week this friend of mine suggested an evening out donating blood followed by dinner. His rationale? He knew giving blood was on my Bucket List, he wanted to help me get over my fear of needles, and he thought we'd have fun doing something to make the world better. Plus, he was going to buy dinner. How could I say no with that kind of logic?
So I pre-gamed all day by eating well (breakfast, small snack, lunch, small snack) and drinking lots of water and arrived at LifeSource in Lake Bluff at the appointed hour without fainting. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I left home this morning without my iPod or a book for distraction, and decided that at 40, I was too old to clutch my trusty teddy bear, so I left it at home too. Yes, I was going to be brave.
Brave quickly turned into a pool of raw nerves and difficulty breathing. After checking my vital signs and answering a series of health questions, I was told I qualified to give blood and to have a seat in the reclining chair. About 10 minutes later, the nice nurse found my vein and I swear put the needle through my entire arm. She kept telling me to breath because I guess I wasn't. I kept squeezing the ball because I don't particularly like to share and so my blood wasn't flowing.
Maybe fifteen minutes later, I had given away all the blood in my body, the needle was removed, I was left with a bruise that looks something like the State of Florida on my arm, and the phlebotomist was asking if she could schedule my next appointment in 8 weeks.
I survived and even have a cool shark bandaid on my arm covering the nasty bruise. Did it hurt? Yes, but not as badly as I thought it would. I think it was more the idea of the needle that hurt more than the actual needle. Am I glad I did it? I am. The blood I donated tonight could help to save up to three lives. That's awesome. Am I over my fear of needles? No. In fact, not even close. Will I do it again any time soon? I'm honestly not sure. Maybe. It will depend if my friend will take me with him again.