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.
16 hours ago