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Trypanophobia

One of the annoying parts of adulthood is that when things are necessary that I really don’t want to do, such as for example getting my biennial mandatory blood workup, I don’t have the option to tantrum or otherwise express that fact to the people around me. There was a great freedom as a child to make it obvious when I was unhappy, to spread that unhappiness around and make sure everyone in my vicinity shared it. Such conduct can’t be considered anymore, for obvious reasons. Still, it was at least a release. These days, there’s nothing to do but bite the bullet with as much dignity and humor as I can muster, and that is not nearly so satisfying.

The fact is that I just don’t like needles. In itself, that isn’t so bad; it’s no great feat to go to the clinic, joke with the medics, stare at anything else until they’re done. It’s not like there’s any real pain involved. The real problem is afterward: pretty much as soon as they tell me I can go now, I’m in no shape to do so.

The symptoms are predictable: they happen reliably every time I have blood drawn. Nausea. Cold sweats. Paleness. Greying of vision coupled with graininess, as though my eyes have just cranked up into their Boost ISO ratings while slamming closed the pupils. When I was young, I passed out more than once after blood withdrawals, but I’m not allowed to anymore: military pilots aren’t allowed to faint. That would be an entry in my medical history that I really don’t want; it might threaten my ability to fly. So I don’t pass out anymore.

Instead, I sit for a minute until it seems prudent to stand, then retch into a toilet for a little while. Then I go sit down for another ten or fifteen minutes, waiting quietly to regain my equipoise. Only then can I go about my day.

This whole process is inconvenient and irrational and annoying, even more so for the fact that it’s automatic and unavoidable. I’d really like to be able to face blood drawings with the unconcern of a machine having an oil sample taken: through a convenient access port, with none of these autonomic responses incapacitating me regardless of my desires in the matter. Unfortunately, that skill continues to elude me.

At least it will be two years at least before I have to go through any of this again. And even despite this, today was a good day.

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