Monday, August 15, 2011

The 1, 2, 3 to getting blood work done with Needle Phobia, Trypanophobia or Aichmophobia

Here I am a few seconds after 9-10 vials of blood, which included six of the large ones were taken from my arm. As you can see, the room is starting to overheat me, along with the screaming I was doing.

Needle Phobia, Trypanophobia or Aicmorphobia is real and affects up to 10% of the population, read about the 4 different types and how it can affect you HERE. People die every year, from women trying to run if a C-section is mentioned, to people simply dying from syncope - the heart dropping so low it just stops. Hospitals, medics and clinics are finally getting aware that just because THEY work with needles all the time doesn't mean you are fine with a needle to test if you have diabetes. For more information on Trypanophobia and Needle Phobia, read about the start of the disease I have, about 180 vials of blood, 3 injections of radioactive materials, 5 hospital visits, 1 main line, several hand lines, and countless blood tests. A friend with needle phobia got cancer, had it treated, and recovered, all while an advocate made it clear that she have control of all the tests and needles. Without it, she definately would have avoided tests and perhaps some treatments, as who knows how many do.

As part of the protocol, I overwhelm my ears with sound, as studies with MRI’s of brains show that there is a limit of stimulus that can be accepted. This is why I have some club trance music with a strong beat going, loud enough to cut off all noise. So even if there is pain, and movement on my arm, it has to fight with the other info flooding in to register.

I tell them “Yes”, and Barbara (pseudonym) who is an expert on taking blood without problems (11 years experience) cleans my arm of EMLA, a topical anesthetic (meaning you rub it on the skin, cover it with plastic and after 40 minutes that area is numb and won’t feel pain).

For me, the rubber they tie on the arm is a trigger of panic, as it means to me: Here they come! So when I say “Yes!” the second time, Linda holds my arm, enlarging the vein.

Barbara will be using a micro butterfly (as for the butterfly), which is what they use on babies and children who have small veins. This means the needle is small and thus can hardly be felt, in fact it isn’t a ‘needle’ at all but a pointed piece of Teflon in most cases. The ‘Butterfly’ has a two inch tube attachment. This is important as in changing vials, she does it away from the arm and so I don’t have to feel the ‘needle’ twist inside of me every time she changes a vial. This way she places it in, then changes the vial while leaving the arm alone and me, on 15 milligrams of valium, screaming away.

I listen to the trance music and wait for my heart and breathing to relax. There is a handhold which I grip and then say the third “Yes!” I usually yell, ‘Yes, Yes, Yes!’ or ‘Go! Go! Go!’ and then scream or cry or whatever. Due to the phobia, the body is in a flight or fight situation. As long as I keep my arm still and have CONTROL (I tell them when to clean, I tell them when to hold the arm to enlarge the vein and I tell them when to start), I let the rest of the body do what it wants.

I am full of adrenaline, but I am lying down. I shout, I cry. When I had muscles and nerves in my hips I might have kicked my legs, but the arm stays still and all that “Flight or Fight” energy is released. Embarrassing maybe, but not for me anymore. I don’t laugh when someone is scared of spiders and leaps away, so why should they laugh at me screaming but getting the JOB of giving blood for about 40 straight seconds, done without incident.

Afterwards, Linda has brought our own bandages (Yes, I choose my own rewards and try to make everything negative into a positive in this experience) and I get Kutachan, a San-X kitty who is playing with a sock, and sparkles in the sun. You can see in the picture up top that the blood has drained away except for my head and neck and my arm. I am a little light headed but from helping me onto the bed to finishing labeling all the vials of blood is five minutes. A new record. The first time was 44 minutes, and my previous best time is 7.5 minutes.

For staff, find someone sympathetic, and ask when it is least busy. Often it is just after they open (if they open at 7:30, by 8:30 the people who have been waiting outside for them to open at 7:30 have been processed). Go when it is least busy and you can build a relationship with the person taking blood. This will help you the next time you need a blood test as well.

Job done, now I just have the second set tomorrow. Ug.


wendryn said...

Glad you got through the first round...

Neil said...

Oh, Beth, you are one brave woman. And I mean that with absolutely no sarcasm whatsoever.

I simply don't know what to say, except you rock.

And I'll send you more extra energy tomorrow.

Love and zen hugs,

Neil said...

Oh, meant to say that the bandaid rocks too!

More hugs,

imascatterbrain said...

THANK you for that stimulus-limit stuff, I had never heard of that. Now I just have to remember it at the right time....

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth,
I remember previous blogs where you told us about your needle phobia. It must be so difficult, first knowing the tests are coming, going to the lab, etc - everything beforehand must cause anxiety. Then the actual experience is very hard. You & Linda have done a good job in finding ways to cope, ways, as you say to have some control. I'm so glad that you have found some of the staff sympathetic.

Being sick & having so many blood tests is not pleasant for anyone. I've had the pincushion experience, being a "hard stick". Once when I was in the hospital, none of the nurses could get an IV in, so they called someone from ICU. The ICU nurse came in and proceeded to slap the sh*t out of my arm, trying to get a good vein to come up. I looked at him and said "I am conscience you realize". Slapping resumed less vigorously. I've been having my IVIG infusions for some years now and have had some nurses who stuck me 6-7 times to get the IV in, several times the line infiltrated. Now I have a really good nurse who knows my veins(he says they are tiny, "wiggly" and tend to zig-zag. I can't imagine having to deal with a serious phobia every time you have to give blood.

I do know the experience of adrenalin building up in your body. My Lupus flares affect me neurologically, especially if I'm also coming down with a virus or infection. This can mess up my neuro-transmitters causing intense feelings of anxiety & physical symptoms of anxiety. There is no phobia or trigger other than the disease. So you can imagine how upsetting this was before I understood what was happening. Even now, sometimes I'll mention to Dennis that I'm experiencing anxiety and he'll ask "what are you anxious about?" before he realizes it's because I'm sick.

Hope the next round of tests goes OK. And that you will be able to get some rest afterwards.


Baba Yaga said...

That was instructive. Thank you.

Your courage and bloody-minded determination are almost fantastic. I am in awe.

The kitty sticking plaster is quite cool, too.

GirlWithTheCane said...

I used to be very scared of needles when I was younger...I'd warn people, "Don't let me see it, or this won't happpen.", and I had to turn my head when they showed needles on hospital shows. But no one ever had trouble getting blood from me. Then I had brain surgery, and people were taking blood all the time, and the needles started to not bother me so much...until my veins decided that they'd had enough and...I don't know...receded into my arm and got all rolly, so that no one could stick them anymore. I went through another period of hating needles, but now I'm like, "Please don't stick me 4 times, just get the butterfly and take it from my hand. Yes, I know it'll hurt, but no more than multiple sticks in my arm..."

I hope that today went okay.

Raccoon said...

I'm out of it for just one day, and you've got three posts up? I received your latest post today, with a raccoon no less!

Yesterday I had an unwanted reminder of how bad an agency can be. May I say that I'm glad it only happens with me once in a great while?

Your wood land journey had some nasty looking root systems. Glad you were able to make it back OK, even without Indy. And that you've made it through another butterfly session.

Linda McClung said...

I am so proud of you for going through with the bloodwork.

Anonymous said...

Hi awesome person. I used to be terrified of needles -- some tech messed me up as a child.

Now with HIV, it's 8 vials every 2 months. So if you are afraid of needles, HIV is definitely not for you. They never bother me anymore. They used to at the start of the HIV treatments.

What kills me is when I had a heart attack and they stuck me TWELVE times in twelve hours. You only get 3 sticks with me -- one in each arm and one in my left hand before I go bonkers. I told them to put a PIC line in me (it's an IV in your upper arm and "sewn" with 2 stitches -- no more needles is worth the creepy pain.)

Also when I had a tooth extracted, they put my hand in what looked like a tennis racket holder, and then they sprayed this very very cold spray on my hand and then they started the IV. I did not feel a thing.

You are incredibly awesome. You sent me a post card once. It just happened to arrive in the middle of several abandonments because I was sick and depressed and some gay men will dump you the second you are not fun anymore.

I am going to rent WIT if possible. I don't know how to die. I am a Christian, am saved, all that. But I am still scared of dying, of being dead.

I don't believe in reincarnation but I told my therapist, "I am over this body and these frailties and these sins and failures and I shall not manifest as a human again."