A Pound of Flesh (April 3, 2010)


Eddie and I have done the responsible thing and taken out life insurance policies. I know, how grown up. I am all for security and planning. In fact that’s my MO in most situations. The problem is that life insurance companies won’t just take your word for it that you’re in good health. They require a quantifiable risk assessment.

So this morning at 8AM, bright and early this fine Saturday, Eddie and I had to allow a hurried little Asian man into our home for a battery of tests. I didn’t mind the urine sample, height and weight check – especially not the weight check as I officially weigh 7 pounds less than I did my senior year of high school – and BP screening. However, near the end, we came to Boop’s dreaded phobia – giving a blood sample.

I realize this is nuts. I am 31 years old and have had blood drawn numerous times. I have been prodded, poked and injected without so much as the slightest negative consequence. But these types of things are called phobias for a reason – they are irrational. My head knows the bloodletting will be brief and can’t possibly be worse than the anxiety in my own head, but my racing heart and sweaty palms are having none of it.

I made Eddie go first. Ok, the tech seemed to know what he was doing. And then it was my turn. As I could have predicted, Eddie’s attempts to calm me down and make me forget involved a good deal of loud, senseless jibber jabber. I get what he’s trying to do and it’s sweet, but the white noise only makes me more anxious. My particular brand of neuroticism requires absolute silence.

I started to sweat and my cheeks flushed. But I didn’t cry. Oh yes, I almost always do that. At the 2007 ADA Health Fair and Screening, you could identify me in the crowded room by the sound of my blubbering. Not sobbing is a small victory for me today.

I can never determine what it is I hate the most, but I verily believe it’s the heat that rushes to the spot where the needle prick occurs. There is something so unnatural about having anything protrude from the inside of your elbow. I will spare you the stories of the psychic collapse that occurs when I need an IV. The thought that runs through my mind is basically an endless loop of, “There is something hot sticking out of my arm. Take it out! Take it out!” I never settle into it. Clearly, I am every health professional’s worst nightmare.

Not only am I weird, but when placed in this position, I throw around a heap of attitude too. When the tech asked me to settle down because I was making him nervous, I not so politely told him what he could do with his hypodermic.

When I was 19 years old, I attempted to conquer my fear in what I thought was a super cool way, by getting a ginormous tattoo of the Chinese symbol for soul/spirit on my back. Boy did that backfire. It was excruciating, and the only reason I didn’t call it off was because my vanity was stronger. I couldn’t walk around half finished. I downed a few shots and took about 10 bong hits before the work started – and I still squealed like a stuck pig. At least I have some sweet body art as a legacy.

In any case, I made it through another trauma today, but I must continue to brace myself. It’s not over. I am supposed to undergo a TB test for a new job I have accepted next week. Can’t wait!


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