, Salem, MA


October 1, 2012

Column: In support of blood testing with a smile

Perhaps I wasn’t the best candidate to take my daughter for her first-time blood test that was part of her annual physical. She passed out cold in the chair. Later I escorted her out of the hospital, pale, sweaty and shaky (and that’s me I’m talking about).

My history concerning blood and needles is far from heroic. When I was in my twenties, close to my daughter’s age, I had a summer job working for the U.S. Department of Labor where I was given responsibility for the office blood drive. Recruiting others to give blood while I remained on the sidelines giving out the doughnuts and OJ seemed downright hypocritical; but never having given blood before — or even had a blood test

— I was severely blood phobic. Not wanting to risk fainting in front of my coworkers, I took the squirrelly way out: losing enough weight to put me under the weight requirement. This way I could honestly say I didn’t qualify.

Somehow I managed to avoid any close encounter with a needle until I was in my thirties and about to give birth to my daughter. At this point, there was no escaping an intravenous line at the hospital. I asked the obstetrician if he would consider inserting a hep lock in my arm prior to the big event so I could “practice.” He dismissed the idea as ridiculous. “When you’re in labor, an IV is the least of your worries!” he actually yelled at me as I blinked back tears.

He was right, but even three days of labor with an IV didn’t cure my squeamishness. Generally when I go for blood work I warn phlebotomists that I’m a big chicken so they’ll assign me the most experienced member of their team. With a pro drawing my blood, there’s no time for my ears to start ringing and the room to start spinning. I’m in and out without even feeling a pinch.

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