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Guess Who Has Two Thumbs and Faints at the Sight of Blood? This Girl!

I have a confession to make: I pass out at the sight of blood. A lot. And by a lot, I mean almost every time I have to get my blood drawn. Which also is a lot. But let me start from the beginning.

I wasn’t always so squeamish. I remember getting my blood drawn as a kid, and having it not be such a pleasant experience (the nurse couldn’t find my vein, she kept poking me, etc.) but I persevered and the nurse was so impressed that she awarded me with what seemed like a dozen colorful stickers (I’m sure it was only like three stickers more than usual, but they only give you one sticker and the nurse could tell I handled being poked multiple times with multiple butterfly needles remarkably well for a six year old). I can handle this. Wrong. So, very, very wrong.

It seemed like the older I got, the worse I got around blood. I guess it started with that one fateful trip to the same doctor’s office for another routine blood test. I wasn’t feeling that great to begin with and hadn’t drank a lot of water beforehand, so when it came time for me to sit in the blood draw chair (you know that uncomfortable chair with the little fold out arm table I’m talking about), I was shaky but thought, No big deal, my inner six year old thought. I’ve got this.

But you know what? No. No, I did not got this.

The lack of hydration and the fact that I was in a backroom with other people waiting their turn, made me extra nervous and as I started to feel nauseated and dizzy, a little boy (or perhaps a black eye child because of what happens next) who was waiting with his mom came up and helpfully said, “Are you okay? You look funny.” I’m assuming he meant my extreme paleness and excessive sweating as I promptly fainted after that.

From then on, I hated getting my blood drawn. I was no longer that confident six year old, but now that extremely anxious eleven year old that was terrified that I would pass out every time the butterfly needle hit my veins. (And now of creepy children who promptly herald my fainting into unconsciousness)

As I developed thyroid issues, I learned that with thyroid issues and monitoring my thyroid levels and medication levels, you have to get your blood drawn. A lot. And thanks to fasting before these blood draws, I was never hydrated enough and guess what that doesn’t help? My proneness to passing out.

If feels like I’ve passed out more times than I can count. Not every time I got my blood drawn, but close. I learned to close my eyes and not look at the needle or tube of blood, because that makes me pass out (but even an empty tube of blood connected to the tube that goes to the needle can make me pass out. I know, I know). I also learned I should ask to lay down if I could, just in case I felt woozy afterwards (you know, despite not looking at the needle or tube of blood). But even if I do lay down and feel okay afterwards, to not trust myself and to sit or lay down for a while, because you could get up, think you’re totally fine as you reassure the phlebotomist, and proceed to the bathroom where you’ll pass out, hit your head on the wall, leave a freaking DENT in said wall, then wake up to the phlebotomist smacking your face while shoving a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol under your nose, slapping your face, and shouting, “wake up, baby!” And yes, that scenario did in fact happen to me once. It’s not fun and it’s extremely embarrassing to be wheeled out of the bathroom in a wheelchair, where they give you orange juice, and then have a doctor check to make sure you don’t have a concussion (I didn’t).

I have no idea why I get so freaked out by getting my blood drawn. Or even just blood in general. I don’t mind if I see my blood (just not when I’m getting my blood drawn). A scratch or cut doesn’t affect me at all, but throw in a needle and boom! I’m probably slumped over and unconscious. But someone else’s blood- woof! I’m on the ground and utterly useless in an emergency. And speaking of needles, shots don’t bother me at all, and I feel like I have a pretty high pain tolerance (I am a girl, after all). So where does this all come from?

I could describe myself as having a blood phobia, which is where you’re afraid of getting your blood drawn, or shots, pretty much anything involving a needle and a medical procedure. Or I could identify as having white coat syndrome, which is where a person develops high blood pressure when in a medical or clinical setting and gets dizzy and faints (most likely due out of anxiety and fear). But neither of these two explanations seem to match my rare, weird case.

I couldn’t figure it out for a while, but after talking to one of my sisters, who feels the same way I do, did it finally click: getting my blood drawn feels wrong to me. I don’t like getting my blood drawn because blood should be in the inside of our bodies and not the outside. I think that triggers something inside of me that suggests that if my blood or someone else’s is on the outside, that means that something bad happened or something is wrong. It must be a weird evolutionary thing that flips inside of me. Maybe for the same reason just seeing a needle in my arm also makes me pass out. Perhaps as I’ve gotten older, the realization that something bad could happen, medically speaking, has made my fear get worse and therefore I’m not the brave six year old who was more excited about getting a bunch of stickers than worrying about the fact that they had just gotten stuck several times with tiny needles. Is this a valid or even a real feeling towards getting my blood drawn? Who knows, but it make sense to me.

Will this ever mean that I’ll ever get over this feeling whenever I get my blood drawn? Maybe, or maybe not. I can work on it, but until then I’ll do what I will always do, just in case, never, ever look at the needle going into my arm. Or the tube of blood (or the empty tube of blood connected to the tube that goes to the needle. You never know). Because I still feel super bad that my doctor’s office had to hide the dent in the bathroom wall with a decorative table before they could repair it and I never want to destroy someone else’s property with my unconscious head again (even though unintentionally).

Is it a bad time to say that I kind of want to try giving blood one day? Or am I talking crazy nonsense? You tell me!

Stay Weird!
4 comments on "Guess Who Has Two Thumbs and Faints at the Sight of Blood? This Girl!"
  1. I can relate to this a lot. Veins make me squeamish (I'm okay with blood but veins just do something to me.) However, I've given blood 3 times and once I threw up and the last time I passed out and seeing my blood fill up the tube about did me in both times but that was my own stupidity. They recommended I stop giving blood (I did everything right beforehand like getting enough sleep, eating, etc) but hopefully it will be a better experience for you. If anything, it just makes you feel good for doing it 😊

    Meagan |

    1. Hi Meagan! Interesting! Veins don't bother me too much, I guess it's more of the actual needle going INTO the vein that bothers me...? That was brave of you to donate blood! I'm sorry it was such an experience for you all three of those times though! :( I want to give blood, but I'm just afraid I might pass out or I'll just have to keep my eyes closed the whole time, just in case! That's exactly why I want to do it. I want to help, not by donating money, but actually donating! So we'll see if I'll try in the future ;)

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I'm glad I'm not alone in my queasiness around blood!

  2. You are not crazy! I have trouble with getting my blood drawn or even a shot as well. If i think about it, i get really anxious and normally start crying the morning when i go to get my blood drawn, i bring an eye mask and have the nurse tell me before she puts the needle in.

    1. I'm glad it's not just me! I'm so sorry it freaks you out so much! That's a smart idea about the eye mask! I usually just shut my eyes or stare at the wall until it's over. I wish I could get over this feeling of faintness about blood! I don't know why I have it.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! It means a lot to me!


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