Thursday, December 22, 2016

My fear of needles and my blood donation experience.

I am not that comfortable with needles. I dislike the feeling of getting a flu shot or whenever they draw blood for testing. I am sure many people don't like to get poked by a needle, especially during a medical exam. Some don't like it because of some past bad experience, some due to pain, and some are just not comfortable with that feeling being poked with the needle. For me, it's not about the pain, because it doesn't hurt that much, many other injuries hurt way more than the pain which I feel because of needles, and normally the encounter with the needles is just a matter of a few seconds. I am also not scared of needles in general as I use them in the lab almost every day to transfer or add a variety of reagents in my chemical reactions. I just don't like that feeling, but it won't be wrong to say that I fear needles, this why going for a blood donation was a big challenge for me. I donated blood for the fist time in India when I was in the college, I don't recollect that I was worried or scared of needles that time, may be the presence of friends, a very young age or some other emotion took care of this fear. Since I came to the USA, I wanted to donate blood, but didn't get a chance to because Red Cross doesn't accept your blood at least for one year if you visit any country like India. For the last few years, I visit India almost every year, so I was not qualified to donate blood.

This year I was qualified as I didn't visit India. I went for donation and passed all their initial screening tests. Then the time came to go for actual donation. I was worried it was not going to be very easy for me to tolerate a needle into my arm for so long time. The needle was going to stay in my vein for at least 20-30 minutes if not more, and it was not a very comforting thought for me. The lab technician found the vein from which she wanted to draw the blood easily, but when she inserted the needle somehow she missed it and then she tried to search for it by moving the needle. It was a really uncomfortable feeling, it lasted for 1-2 minutes, but that process was the worst part of the entire blood donation. Eventually, they did find the vein and I could donate the blood successfully.

The nurse turned out to be a Trump supporter, she voted for Mr. Trump and initially she was hesitant to talk more about that. But when I told her that it was her right to choose the candidate, which she thought was suitable for the job and she should not be hesitant to talk about it just because she is living in a democrat state. We discussed quite a bit about the election and I told her my point of view about this presidential election. I clearly told her that I also liked some of Mr. Trump's proposed policy measures, and from the beginning, I thought that he was a dark horse of the presidential race. I even wrote a blog post about him a few months back. But for me that so called 'locker room' conversation was a deal breaker. She agreed with me that it was bad, but said that Hillary is also not that clean, she had her own mistakes which made her equally bad person. She also said that all these people have some skeletons in their closets. It was a fair counter argument, and she did say ultimately that she was OK with women being a President, but she was not OK with Hillary. Actually, many people have used this argument to justify their choice after this election and I fail to understand the real rationale behind it, but it is their right to choose the candidate which they like. This conversation was very helpful to me as it diverted my attention away from the pain of that inserted needle in my hand. We ended our conversation on a very positive note and I told her that I am looking forward towards presidency of her candidate, and I hope that Mr. Trump will honestly try to implement his policies for the benefit of citizens of this great country. She gave me thumbs up for this as well as for successfully completing my blood donation.

I felt a big sense of achievement after finishing the process of blood donation, that feeling was not just because I donated the blood, I know that many people donate regularly, but because I overcame my fear of needles and survived those 30-40 minutes without having a panic attack that too when no one who I know personally was around me. I did this by my own choice. I was not compelled to do this for any other reason other than my own desire to do it. The feeling of not allowing my personal fear or phobia to control my desire to do something good was great, and I think we all are capable of overcoming such fears or mental blocks. We all or most of us have some sort of fear or mental block, which forbids us from doing many things which we all can do for the benefit of society or people around us. If we try to take one small step at a time to overcome those fears, we all can conquer them. I understand that it is not going to be easy, but it is not impossible. 

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing.]

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