A Not So Irrational Fear

My hands became cold and clammy the minute I stepped through the doors. The rest of my body soon followed suit, with the emergence of a thin sheen of cold sweat over my forehead, my arms, and my back.

“Are you all right?” my boyfriend asked, able to sense quite immediately that I had stiffened and become quite drawn tight into myself as we walked.

I managed a curt nod, and we continued to walk in silence. As soon as we reached the right office, spoke with the person at the desk, and took our seat to wait our turn, a fresh bout of perspiration broke out of my skin and I did my best to take long, deep breaths to calm myself down.

I might seem like a figure in some sort of creepy story or horror film scene from the situation described above, but it’s actually a lot simpler and much more boring than that. I was actually in a local medical and wellness center at the time, waiting to have my blood drawn and tested upon doctor’s orders.

Why all the tense descriptions and fearful body language?

I actually have a mild fear of being inside a hospital, being pierced anywhere on my body with a needle, and of generally anything that involves a hospital.

My friends are the first to laugh at any mention of this fear — particularly about being afraid of needles.

You see, I have tattoos. Three. So it doesn’t make sense that I would be afraid of needles when I’ve willingly sat down for hours, at three different occasions, while a guy drew a design on a body part using a machine with needles and ink.

“It’s different,” I tell them. “With tattoos, the needles stay outside of my body — they just go over my skin repeatedly. I can handle that pain.

“What I can’t stand is knowing that a needle is going to pierce through my skin, go through a vein, and stay in such a position even for just a few minutes.”

The hairs at the back of my neck are beginning to stand, just from thinking about needles again. You can imagine how I look when it’s time to get flu shots at the office.

During this particular trip to the medical center with my boyfriend, I was substantially nervous as the lab assistant stood next to me, flicking her fingers at the inside of my elbow trying to coax the vein out to a more visible position.

I had gained some weight, and when that happens, I find that the veins on my arm are not as easily seen as they used to be. You can imagine how terrified I was while the lab assistant tried to poke the needle into a vein she couldn’t see.

I wasn’t always afraid of needles, hospitals, or other related medical facilities. I do believe, however, that my fear stemmed from my mother’ death inside a hospital ICU.

She had been sick from the complications of her diabetes for years and eventually began deteriorating. She spent almost a week in the hospital, during which I lived and breathed life at the ICU, at hallway waiting areas, seeing other patients with tubes and needles being stuck all over their bodies, and smelling the disinfectants and other common hospital smells.

My mom eventually passed away in that ICU, and I’ve been afraid of having anything to do with hospitals since then.

I know having my blood sample taken is nothing compared to going through surgery or childbirth, but it is what it is. I just always hope that the doctors, technicians or lab assistants that attend to me are able to do their thing quickly so I can get out of the place quickly.