Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Face your fears and get paid doing it!

I participated in a medical/scientific study this week. Now, working at a research institution with lots of affiliated hospitals, this may not seem like such a big deal to you. And it’s true, there are all kinds of paid opportunities to have your skin exposed to UV light to test sunblock, have your nasal passages lavaged, or what-have-you. But I gave blood, and I earned $5 doing it.
I have a HUGE needle phobia. Not to the point where I pass out or throw up, but I get extremely agitated and nervous and anxious. I feel this way just thinking about needles in arms – my arm, your arm, anybody’s arm. The thought of my vascular system being invaded by something that hard and sharp gives me a severe case of the willies and I feel like I shouldn’t touch hard things – like I’ve just been made acutely aware of how fragile my skin truly is. It’s a very weird feeling.
But I bravely decided to try and face my fear. I was assured that I could go first (so I wouldn’t have to see needles in other people’s arms) and that I would only have to give 1 tube of blood (everyone else gave 2). On top of that, I got $5 cash money immediately afterward. Not to say that my phobia is worth a mere $5, but it was frosting on the cake. And my blood was going towards AIDS research.
Thankfully I had a very nice, understanding, and competent phlobotomist. She let me explain my fears and let me set the ground rules. I wanted to know when to expect the needle, but I didn’t want to watch any aspect of it, and preferred to chat about other topics until it was over. Now, I don’t know if it’s all in my head or not, but I swear I can feel the needle go into my skin and the whole time it’s in there it burns. I imagine that’s how vampires feel when exposed to holy water or a crucifix or daylight. I think my body knows that that just shouldn’t be there.
And that small little puncture wound pained me the rest of the day. It hurts a little bit today, yet. But there’s no bruise, and only a small, round pink mark to show for it.
Maybe I’ll do it again. If I want to overcome my fear, I think this is one of the best ways to do it. It’s in a non-threatening lab setting, all my work friends are there, and there’s no pressure. And according to my phlobotomist, I can fill one of those tubes up right quick!


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