Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Weak in the Knees

Last week I went for my annual check up with the doctor. And by annual I mean my first time visiting the doctor for a complete health check since I went off my parents' insurance several years ago. (I know better. I have no excuse--procrastinating the inevitable is my bag, baby.)

In case you were wondering, I hated every last minute of it. The paperwork, the weigh in, the nurse's smug "Mmm kay" as she recorded the number following the weigh in, that awful hospital "gown" (or peep show with sleeves), the stirrups, the lecture about what I should and should not be doing.

But nothing, nothing at the doctor's office compares with the slow removal of MY blood through a thin steel device inserted directly through MY vein wall. Of all the things that happened to me here, this ritual was the most invasive, the most torturous.

Examine my va-j-j and conduct a breast exam while I stare uncomfortably at your fluorescent office lights, I can handle that. Ask for all of my top secret information including social security number and my weight (which, under normal circumstances, is revealed to flat out NO ONE), okay. But my blood!? You want my blood?!

Let me explain. Wait, no, I don't think I can explain it clearly. It is like this: I don't particularly like needles. Any needle with the sole function of entering my epidermis is not a good thing. But a needle carrying a vaccine into my upper arm might make me grit my teeth and little else. I can handle it with little more than a grimace. The real problem with needles arises when the sole function of that needle is to slice through a perfectly innocent vein and remove life-giving fluid from my body. For whatever reason, this tips me over the edge, typically the edge of consciousness. I sweat everywhere. The blood that was previously renewing my brain function suddenly goes AWOL and I turn a pale shade of colorless. My vision goes foggy, my breathing becomes labored, and I essentially lose muscle function and the ability to act sober. I lose conscientious control of my own body.

The pain isn't the issue. I can handle that little pinch of pain. And I'm not really opposed to freely giving my blood away because I know I will produce more. But, for whatever reason, this process of blood removal sends all functions of homeostasis into a chaotic disaster zone. And I cannot mentally stop it from happening. No matter the positive self pep talk, no matter my focus on anything but their blood snatching, I go weak in the knees every last time.

Perhaps it is that I have deeply buried veins in the crooks of my elbows (they usually go through my hand for the blood supply). Perhaps I should blame it on that destitute year of college when plasma donation kept me in an abundant supply of top ramen. Whatever the reason, I struggle physiologically with giving blood.

And the eight or so vials they removed last week are no exception to my trend. I wanted to go lie down, I wanted to stick my head between my knees. I wanted to get out of there and go to my car and forget the medical lab had ever happened upon my day. But I had to sit still. I had to stare at a wall until the ordeal was over. And by the time it was over, it was too late. I'd gone into my freaky blood loss zone, teetering between consciousness and a starry, starry night.

There is no point to this blog post, really. Other than to give you a good laugh at my weak-kneed expense. And, perhaps, this: the next time I go weak in the knees and swoon a bit, I'd prefer it be for a good reason. Say, six or so feet of tall, dark, single, normal(ish), LDS, and handsome. That's all I ask.


Jen said...

This post has made me uneasy and I don't even mind getting my blood drawn!

Libby said...

The blood thing doesn't bug me at all, because I used to draw blood at Popsy's office. My worst nightmare is the breast check. Mostly because my midwife was also my coworker and I had to work with her right after she felt me up. Now, after I've had a baby, I'm terrified because I've got the chest of a 95 year old woman.

Also-I just read your "...High School" post. I totally agree. Somehow I found the "It Boys" blog web and found myself critiquing every part of their lives, putting them down, mocking their kids names. Did it make me feel better, no. I don't know what the answer is. But I better figure it out by August 1st for our big reunion! Frightening.

Alice said...

Oh kid, I am sorry about your mishap at the doc. I am glad they had you lay down.

I usually do just fine with the blood thing, but I did get the sweats once and suddenly had tunnel vision. Watching someone get a numbing shot right in the middle of a gashed head... I had to sit down. That was my first year of college. I had no idea the kind of crap I would see now.

As for the weak in the knees prince charming business? Yes please.

Holly said...

I am so glad I'm not the only one that has that type of reaction! I also have what we'll call "needle intolerance." Give me a day or so to think about an upcoming test, and the unsuspecting nurse gets a full blown mental breakdown, followed-up by the starry starry night portion of the program. Hahaha