04 September 2010

Enetophobia

Needles. Oh how I despise them. Such pointy, skinny, little nasties.

I was seven years old. My mother was going to have a baby. She took us three girls to the hospital to see where the baby would be born. She showed us the wing where all the mom’s-to-be go. She showed us the nursery where the new babies were wrapped in the blankets of pink or blue. We looked through the window into the room with all of the premature babies. They were so tiny, lying there in their little beds. A nurse approached the baby closest to where I had my forehead pressed against the glass. Then, she did the unimaginable—pulled out a syringe and (right there in front of me!) she stuck the baby's foot and drew blood. At the first sight of red, I felt my head begin to spin, my arms begin to shake and spots floated in front of my eyeballs. The next thing I knew, I was lying on a gurney with people surrounding me. I felt like I had been asleep for hours. My family informed me that I had completely passed out, fallen straight backwards and hit the tile floor.

I was seventeen years old. The blood bank parked a trailer in the high school parking lot. Juniors and seniors were encouraged to be selfless, head out during their lunch break and donate some of their precious blood. All of my friends were excited—no one had ever done this before and they felt like they were helping a good cause (which, of course, they were). Several of my friends were jealous of my type O blood. “Oh!” they exclaimed, “You can bless so many more people since anyone with a positive blood type can use your blood!” Peer pressure. And I really did want to help too. So I geared myself up and entered the trailer, prepared to not think about what I was doing and save someone’s life. The nurse led me into a small room of the trailer to ask me questions about my health and to prick my finger to make sure I wasn’t anemic. She informed me that she only needed a drop of blood to test my iron levels. Feeling a little queasy (I think I’ll blame it on the small space and heat) I held out my finger. One prick, that’s it. And I woke up, sprawled on the floor out in the main part of the trailer with my friends (bags of their life giving blood attached to their arms) looking down on me. Needless to say, they would NOT let me give blood, even though I tried to convince them that I surely wouldn’t black out twice.

I was twenty-one years old. The First Presidency of my church had called me to serve as a missionary in Santiago, Chile. Even though I had already accepted my assignment, I almost didn’t go on a mission. Do you KNOW how many shots you have to get?! Especially when you are headed to South America. I took my mom with me to the health district, to the doctor, to the airport—everywhere I needed to go to get stuck. They looked at me funny. So what? I needed the support. I asked to lay down every time. Did you know that you can’t pass out when you are laying down? The elementary kids there to get their school shots looked at me funny. I’m sure they were thinking “She’s a grown-up! Why is she so white and shaky?” I didn’t pass out. But I would have if I had been sitting up.

I was twenty-three, coming home from my mission. They said that I needed to get a TB test done when I got back to the States. HA! No way was I going to voluntarily get pricked. Then I found out that BYU freaking Idaho wouldn’t let me register for my classes until I proved that I didn’t have TB. Apparently this is standard procedure for all missionaries returning from foreign missions. Damn. My mom went with me again. They made her sit in the waiting room. All they had to do was put 0.1mL of Tuberculin right under my skin. That’s it. There was only a chair in the room; I had no place to lie down. I was convinced I could handle this. I was an adult who had visited a plethora of countries by herself, almost graduated from college and gosh dangit I could handle this. It was only supposed to take two minutes. When I emerged from the room (pale and shaking—and with a juice box) fifteen minutes later, my mom said, “So, you passed out, huh?” ::sigh:: So much for handling it.

Last week I was booking it through Walmart. The greyhound passengers would be arriving any moment at the depot and I had been told that they were out of paper towels there. On the clock and in a rush, I wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on around me—just enough to steer the cart around the shuffling Grandmas and children screaming on their mothers’ legs. In the aisle in front of me, someone had set up a table all draped in white paper and there were several people clustered around. Without registering what they were doing, I started to swerve my paper towel loaded cart out of the way. The next thing I knew, I realized that a man in white gloves has just jabbed a needle into the arm of a teenage girl. There they were, in the middle of a crowded Walmart isle, giving flu shots. Who honestly does that to unsuspecting shoppers?! They ought to warn people or something. I felt the tale-tell symptoms begin to sweep over me; I started to perspire, breath shallowly, and feel dizzy. So I did the only thing I could think of. I sat down. Right there. In the isle. Busy shoppers be damned. They all looked at me funny. The screaming kids stopped yelling. I wasn’t the one who got the shot. What was my problem? And I couldn’t even think of anything to say.

I think that until flu season is over, I will be avoiding Walmart. I hate needles.
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