Wednesday, 1 May 2013

rationalising the irrational.

last week, I tried to have a blood test. this did not go well. me + needles does not, usually, go well.

I could, at this point, tell the story that explains why me + needles = bad idea. it is a good story. it explains everything very neatly. it also has the advantage of being true.

I'm not going to tell that story. instead, here are some things nurses have said to me when they want to be helpful (and the reason they're not)

"don't worry, I've worked with Sue* for years, she's really gentle, it won't hurt at all" - pain is beside the point. I say this every time. there is no pain memory involved (the main sensory memory from the story mentioned above? the sight of my blood travelling along a clear plastic tube). I know it won't hurt nearly as much as, say, under arm waxing, even if "Sue" is a trainee undertaker. the problem is that There. Is. A. Needle. whatever you say, my natural reaction is to bend my elbow to protect the vulnerable target skin/hyperventilate/cry. no one ever believes that the pain is irrelevant.

*not her real name. or maybe it was. I honestly can't remember

"we can't do it if you won't stay still" - I know. that's exactly why I'm pulling away. I don't want this to be happening.

"if you'd let us do it straight away, it'd all be over and you wouldn't need to think about it" - yes. and if I grew wings I could get home from the hospital without waiting for the bus. I couldn't let you do it the first time any more than I can grow those bus defying wings, because it is terrifying.

"ok, we won't do it today. maybe you'll feel better next time" - yeah, cos that ones worked so many times over the past 18 years. I have to live with the consequences of this, why should you get off so easily?

"come on, be a big, brave girl" - no. I am at least a foot taller than you and made of badass. I gave blood and got a tattoo in spite of (and, in some sense, because of) this needle phobia. if I need to scream and cry and defend my vulnerable inner elbow skin, don't you dare suggest I'm not trying.

and two new ones from last week:

"if your friend & the other nurse hold you down, I could just do it" - NO. Nononononono. I actually suggested that idea once. in the office of the counsellor I was seeing for my needle phobia. she said it was a bad idea because it would add further needle trauma to my frazzled psyche. she also said they normally only force medical treatment if they feel the patient should be sectioned under the mental health act. not only are you suggesting assaulting me, but a small part of my brain is now worrying you want me sectioned. great.

"you have to get over it. I had to get over my fear of spiders" - um, no, you didn't. I bet you're still terrified of spiders. I bet you have to stare at the one on the bathroom ceiling while you pee. maybe you can trap them with a glass and a piece of paper and take them outside, or maybe you have to summon someone like me to remove it before you can relax. it doesn't mean you'd be able to do the most traumatic spider-based activity you can imagine (say, kissing a tarantula?) on demand, all of 30 seconds after someone threatened to assault you if you didn't.

and from non-medical professionals:

"but you've got a tattoo!" - yes. because, as I mentioned, I'm made of badass. that doesn't mean I could get one done again today. it's also a completely different needle experience to a blood test. if I was to score the fear factor of various needle based events, it would go something like this:

hand sewing/handling safety pins - 1
machine sewing - 1.5
tattoos - 5
body piercings - 7
injections - 10
blood donation - eleventy billion
blood test - slightly more than blood donations, because there are medical consequences if I fail.

sometimes, with the right nurse/friend combination I can take on the big scorers. most of the time, I can't. doing a 5-point activity on one day means I could do it on that day, with that very sympathetic tattoo artist. it doesn't mean I could do it again today, and it definitely doesn't make it ok that someone wants to stick sharp metal things into me. and that's ok. it's ok to be a badass wimp.

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