Necessary Needles

When I look back I can see, everything in my life has prepared me for this point, from baby steps to this giant leap.

For example, I have always been terrified of needles. Shots, particularly. Any sharp hollow pointy thing that can invade my body. I would dissolve into a big, weepy, terrified mess. I was afraid it would hurt, or the needle would break off in my arm, or they would inject the wrong thing. It bordered on phobic even into adulthood.

This year, when I was trying to come up with creative ways to earn extra money for my trip to Ukraine, I heard an ad on the radio for donating plasma. I decided to check it out, went through all the steps, got all the information. And I didn’t think twice about it at first. Then it was sort of like having a conversation with God. It went something like:

“Sarah, how bad do you really want this?”

“Bad.”

“Enough to face needles?”

“…Apparently.”

I did keep a picture of Anzhelika on my phone, so that with the touch of a button, I could remind myself who I was doing this for. Every time I felt the faintest twinge of fear, I would look at her picture.

During the preliminary exam, the staff checked my veins. Then they basically told me, “Oh, thanks for trying, but your veins are crap. Go home.”

Blink, blink.

“I can go?”

“Yes, thanks for trying! Have a nice day!”

I grabbed my stuff and bolted. I was almost disappointed, but somewhat relieved at not having a huge needle shoved up my arm, my blood separated from its plasma, and put back in me.

I got in my car, sat for a minute, and thought, “Well, maybe, the point was that I was willing to do it, if that was what it took to get to Ukraine.” For me that’s pretty extreme.

And since then needles have not scared me at all.

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6 responses to “Necessary Needles

  1. Wow! That’s amazing. It can be so hard to maintain focus and rationale in the face of impulsive phobic responses to things…looking at that picture was a great idea. I too have long had a phobia about needles — not so much about injections or needles breaking, but specifically about having blood drawn — it’s such a vulnerable and frightening thing for me. Lately, though, things have been changing a lot for me, priorities rapidly shifting for the better (by the advice of a writer I admire, I try to evaluate things according to what I will remember well on my deathbed, supposing I will have a deathbed and will not pass suddenly), and I’ve had thoughts from time to time that I could probably handle it without fainting these days. I know it would scare me, but I think I could do it if there were a good reason to. One of the major steps that helped me in getting to where I am now was taking a course in CPR and first aid, and listening attentively, when before I would have fainted, as they discussed various types of bloody wounds and how to treat them. The thing that got me through was keeping my focus on the fact that this will enable me to help people — this isn’t about my fear or my dark little tunnels of morbid thought — this is about saving lives; someone may need me someday. I want to be the kind of person who can soothe her own hurts so that she can soothe others’. I think you are right — the point is not so much whether you do it, it’s whether you’re willing to do it for a good cause.

    • Evie, I agree, it makes a big difference when you consider that other people are depending on you. And I think it’s good advice, to evaluate life from the perspective of one’s deathbed. I like that idea! Thank you so much for commenting!

    • The thing that stands out to me from the post and the comment is that fear diminishes when the focus is on something bigger than myself. It shifts my perspective. Good for both of you!

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