Facing a fear is a big deal. Like wearing pleated pants or forcing yourself to re-watch that X-Files episode of “Home” one more time.
Facing a phobia? Now that’s some pants-shitting terror. As silly or as severe as that phobia may be, that fear’s in your brain, ingrained like a parasite.
It takes some people years to get over it, to work through their issues.
Take me for example. I’ve been avoiding getting my blood drawn for probably the last 30 years.
My phobia has always been a fear of needles. Needles in veins, specifically. I can watch all the slasher flicks in the world, watch entrails spill out of stomachs and necks get slit and gunshot wounds explode body parts into mutilated pulp, but show me a needle in a vein and I’m a quivering, queasy mess.
There’s no valid reason for it. I’ve never had my blood drawn, so my fear has no basis except mental. No nurse has scrambled my veins or horror stories fed to me about how awful it is. It’s just something that’s always been in my head. Would have me avoiding medical treatment if necessary.
Only now, pregnant, I couldn’t weasel out of a blood test for long.
Though I did try and succeed for a while. I was determined to beat the system with finger pokes brought to me by the amazing new lab testing Theranos (more on that soon). And that worked. Kinda. Until I had to go through with the venous blood draw for the required Syphilis test (Goddammit, Arizona, you’re embarrassing yourself).
I went in twice to my local Walgreens to do it and chickened out both times. My brain frantically trying to come up with soap opera scenarios on how I could get out of it:
- Having my sister impersonate me
- Making up a religion and claiming blood tests were a violation of my belief
- Finding some shady doctor to forge the tests
- Bribing the phlebotomist into doing a million finger pokes to fill the vial
But finally, time was up. I had to do it.
Accompanied by my best friend along and armed with my headphones, I sat in a chair and covered my eyes and blubbered and listened to Shakey Graves sexily croon and—
Hey, it was over. HOLY DICKS WHAT?
It was like the revelation to rock my world. All the horrific (and ridiculous) scenarios I had envisioned – me passing out, blood spurting everywhere as they removed the needle, the phlebotomist accidentally nicking the wrong vein and paralyzing me in the process—never came to pass.
And it didn’t hurt – it felt more like a bee sting. The reassuring phlebotomist, Jamie, was like your high school boyfriend, in and out in less than 20 seconds, and my best friend patiently talked me down from the ledge by being armed with books and tissues.
Because a best friend just knows when to bring books to a traumatic life event.
Thank you to Theranos for making a better, less painful way to draw blood. And thanks to the now-30-year old Elizabeth Holmes who launched Theranos at the age of 19. Hell, Ms. Holmes, you may be richer and smarter than I, but goddamn, you’re gonna change the world. You made my life easier and gave me such an amazing and positive experience that I’ve devoted an entire blog post to the subject.
If this sounds like the Oscar thank-you speech of bloodletting, that’s because it is. I’m proud of myself for conquering my phobia and grateful to those who helped me and this is my shout from the rooftops.
Now about my fear of clowns…