Blood and Needles


I'm not hemophobic, but how I feel overall at any given time can make the sight of blood bother me anywhere from “not at all” to “a lot.”  I've had some really bad, bleeding cuts whereby the most upsetting thought I had was, “That will take a while to heal, and every time I wash my hands the bandages will get soaked.”  I've butchered animals for food, and my reaction has usually been less, “Ew, blood!” and more, “How sad it is to kill an animal.”  (There's nothing like raising and killing your own food to make you truly appreciate it.)

I really don't like needles.  The steadiest doctor's hands still wiggle a bit while the plunger is being pressed, and after the stinging stab I'm always left with a tender spot that feels like I got slugged.  I've learned to just look the other way when getting jabbed, which must be what I did the first time I gave blood . . .

I gave blood a of couple of times when I was a teenager, and they were positive experiences.  I did not watch the needles being inserted.

Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints try to perform some sort of general public service once or twice a week, and when I was serving as one in Köln, Germany, my missionary colleague and I didn't have a service project lined up.  When I saw that the German Red Cross was looking for blood donors, I talked Elder Koch into going with me to give blood.  He was nervous at first, but afterward he was quite proud of how good his vein was for giving blood.

In contrast to Elder Koch's nervousness, I went into the donation center with confidence, so much so that I decided that this time I was going to watch the needle going into my arm.  Bad idea.  I had no idea the needle for drawing blood would be so freakin' big!  I was expecting a needle the size of a standard injection syringe, which, now that I think about it, would be too slow since they didn't want to take my blood at the rate of an IV drip, but I never realized how big it was because the tape used to secure an inserted needle also did a good job of obscuring its size.

Watching the needle go in made me a bit anxious, but I managed to stay calm through the whole bleeding part.  Afterward, the nurses returned me and Elder Koch to the lobby, gave us some snacks to help us recover, then left us alone.  I was feeling lightheaded, and told Elder Koch as much, then proceed to lay down on the thinly carpeted floor, thinking that would help the blood circulate.

I hadn't yet been on the floor an entire minute when a nurse walked back in and found me relaxing.  Elder Koch's back was to me, so it looked as if I'd collapsed and he hadn't notice.  The nurse urgently called the other two nurses in and they all fussed over me in alarm.  I tried to reassure them that I was fine and that I'd simiply laid down, but they raised my feet above my head then had me sip soda while slowly lowering my feet.  The lightheadedness passed, and I had no other issues.

I've given blood a few more times since, but I learned my lesson to not to watch the giant needles going in.  The giant needles.

About ten years ago I went to the doctor for an examination, and a blood sample was needed.  The sample was taken via a regular syringe, but with a fat tube which I could see filling up with crimson.  Other than the discomfort of being jabbed, I don't recall being particularly bothered, but while the blood was being drawn, I passed out.  The doctor had started asking me questions, like date of birth, and I just put my head back and closed my eyes.  I was unconscious for only the briefest moment before the doctor woke me, but it felt like a chill went up into my brain, and then I awoke feeling incredibly refreshed.  I would dare say it was the most refreshing rest I've ever had.  It's also the only time I've ever passed out (not counting the time I knocked myself out, but that's a different story).