Needle in the Hay

People are always asking me, “Sarah, what’s your favorite word?”

I’m kidding, no one has ever asked me that.

I’ve never really thought about what my favorite word is; I know what my favorite two words are : open bar.

There are so many weird and interesting words out there (and that’s just in the English language) I don’t think if I could narrow it down to just one. But I know that one of my favorites is phlebotomy. What’s funny about the fact that I love that word, is that it represents something I absolutely despise in this life: getting my blood drawn.

I’ve always been afraid of needles in general. I recall being young and bringing my Walkman with me as something to distract me when I went to the doctor’s office to get a shot. My mom would try to make me laugh, telling me it would “be over soon.” But it was never over soon enough. The preparation of the shot seemed to drag on endlessly. My heart beating with desperate anticipation. Then the doctor telling me to hold still, the stinging prick of the needle breaking my skin, and the slow, smooth pressure as the liquid filled my body. Such agony. After all that came the wretched soreness of the wound. No, dear mother, it was never over quickly.

The first time I had my blood drawn I was nineteen, which is pretty late in the game for your first blood removal, I was told. I was inconsolable the day of the event. I was so terrified, in fact, that I had to go to the doctor’s office before they opened and they had to get the baby nurse to do it. Yeah, the one who gives shots to babies. Why? Because I was acting like a total baby.

A few years later I was living in Chicago and about to start college. One minor detail I was unaware of is that you are required to have all your immunizations before you start at said college. I,of course, figured I was all good because you get that done when you’re little. And I suffered through the shots once, so once is enough for me. Apparently I was missing one (no idea how I got away with THAT for so long, but that’s another thing altogether), so I had to find a new doctor in a new city.

When you become a new client at a doctor’s office, one thing you have to do is get a complete physical. And what comes with a complete physical? Say it with me now…getting a blood sample.

This caught me completely off guard. I was naive to think it wouldn’t happen, but I had been so focused on the damn immunization shot that I hadn’t entertained the possibility that while I was there they would try to stab me with a variety of other needles. I didn’t have the time to mentally prepare as I did before. A nurse came and took me over to the nurse’s station and sat me down in a chair. Was there anything I could do? I couldn’t stop her, could I? I opened my mouth but only a small whimper escaped. Our eyes locked and she smiled.

“Afraid of needles, huh?”

I nodded.”Really afraid. Like, pathologically afraid.”

She gave me a little stress ball to squeeze for when…you know what? I can’t go on. I can’t keep writing it because then I have to think about it and I’m actually getting nauseated right now. I’m sure most of you have had blood drawn; you know what happens.

When it was all over and I opened my eyes, she looked at me and said “You did much better than most grown men that come in here.” I laughed. Even if she was lying, it made me feel a lot better and much less like the baby I considered myself to be.

However, the first time I ever have to have an IV, well, that’ll be another story.

Till next time…thanks for reading.

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