Do You Have A History of Fainting?

Why, yes I do.  I am a needle passer outer.  I'm actually at my wits end.  I get so worked up and terrified whenever I have to give blood or, get this, get a little tiny shot, that I usually pass out during or shortly after the procedure is finished.

I'm a  grown up.

My last blood draw went pretty well and I only almost passed out twice. The comforting, yet strong Sylvia helped me through it and I pulled myself back from the brink. Yesterday I went to the hospital to get something done and I had to sign a waiver that said I wasn't allergic to any IV something or another.  I hadn't anticipated getting an IV, which I have never had, and proceeded to freak out. While I paced the hospital room looking at objects on the table that appeared to be IV related materials I almost lost it.

It's not that I think I'll die and it's not really about the pain.  Most needle encounters don't really hurt.  There's something about the idea of my insides being prodded and sucked out and displaced by a diversity of viscous fluids that gives me the hebity jebities.  I imagined myself laying on what looked to be an operating table under a bright light, tears streaming out of one eye and down my cheek with my head turned to the side in defeat.  Or, and much worse, I imagined myself having a melt down mid-procedure and thrashing my IV'd hand around in the air yelling for them to take it out*.

I'm a grown up.

I keep analyzing the situation to determine what the pay-off might be and thus replace it with something less lame.   

Am I looking for attention?  Is this about control?  Space and mobility?  Is it a Freudian plea to revisit the overly swift potty training of my youth?  

I don't know the answer.  So, I would like to open a forum on facing your fears.  Feel free, and please, offer any suggestions that have worked to help you get over irrational fears.  It can be related to needles and blood** or any of the many phobias that contribute to our respective and general madness.

What do you do?

* I didn't actually have to have an IV after all.  My day will come, but it wasn't yesterday

**It's not just blood drawing that does it - open wounds, gashes and anything that has been stitched up or taped together makes me have to take a seat, although they have never caused me to pass out.  It's not the blood though, because I am pretty much pro at cutting my fingers with the sharp objects involved in cooking or bookbinding...


  1. Oh, GIRL. I'm a needle passer outer, too. A BAD one. Like, totally, really, horribly bad.

    And it's not about attention, and it's not about control. I don't know what it is. Horrible fear? Terrifying fear? It's not something I can control.

    I don't know if this will comfort you or not, but me, this horrible needle-passer-outer... I have made it through numerous IVs (with babies, etc.) and epidurals (the ULTIMATE needle, dear heavens) and all manner of those sorts of things. But the terror and the almost passing out (or actual passing out)- it hasn't gone away or lessened. Just wanted you to know- you're not alone!!!

  2. Brooke!
    Tell me about it! I'm ridiculous. I just have to look away and tell the nurse not to tell me anything that is happening. I will say though, I've made it through 2 blood draws this week and I feel like I'm growing up. I have to get some surgery on Monday, and it's been a real week leading up to thinking about everything! Hope you guys are doing so well! love you.

  3. I have an irrational fear of grates and any metal doors on the sidewalk. My uncle told me once there were crocodiles or alligators in them. I realize now that is not true, but I still avoid them. I really don't want to fall in. The worst is when the metal doors are uneven and there is a gap, or when there is warm air coming up.

  4. Did you know I miss you a lot? Well I do.

    P.S. When I was 12 I had to get my blood taken for the first time. The nurse (it was her first day on the job) came in and began taking my blood. SHE fainted and I was to scared to call for help, so I just sat on the table and bled for a while. It ruined me for life...

  5. Hey Brooke,
    Our little Hannah (who is 10) has this issue as well as my sweetheart Joe (he has to leave the room when I get epidurals after an unfortunate passing out incident with baby number three). I actually read that it is a physical condition and hereditary (thus Joe and Hannah Bay having it). I'm not sure what to do for Hannah. I've actually been considering counseling for her. Not sure if it warrants that much, but she is uncontrollably, out of her head crazy with terror. She has transferred her fear of needles/blood at the regular doctor to all doctors. When we go to the EYE doctor, she freaks out. Anyway, I don't have any solutions, just sympathy. At least you don't scream and kick the nurse like Hannah does. Sigh. We've decided to skip her flu shot this year...

  6. I get faint-headed if they miss the vein and have to do it over and over and over. I had a few nurses like that.

    Can I tell you my awful ER story? When I had my kidney stones my sister drove me to the ER clutching at her shoulder and writing and screaming. I went up to the window in the ER and told the nurse what was happening. And... she handed me a form. The woman literally handed me a form to fill out! I took it and just laid down on the floor and started writing again. My sister came in and filled out the form for me, then they took me to a room where they have to take your blood pressure and measure your heartbeat. I threw up from the pain, it was so bad. Finally they got me into a bed, and a guy came around with an IV and by that time I was like, "Put it in! PUT IT IN!" I almost kissed the ground he walked on when the painkiller finally hit my bloodstream.

    I don't really recommend that, but it was quite an effective way to get over any IV trepidation. By the way, I don't know how people in the ER deal with those kinds of situations everyday. Seriously, I wish I had more decorum, but it was like the burning pain of the sun in my body. It's hard to maintain respectability.

  7. I've heard that hypnosis works wonders with things like this. I have a friend who knows how to hypnotize, and during the peak of my blushing phase (which has never really left, only subsided) I asked her to hypnotize the blushes away. She declined because she thought it was "cute" that I blushed...being Japanese and never blushing may have had something to do with it! But she says it generally works quite well.

    Also- Trav faints at the sight of needles or stitches. You're not alone.

  8. I screamed at my doctor to "take it out!" when I was in labour and he said he was going to start me on a pitocin drip. Yup. I just about lost it. I ended up getting an IV with a saline drip but screamed enough that they stopped at that and decided I could do it without pitocin (hello, yes...I can...my kids come crazy-fast).

    Anyway, I also thought I'd say that my BEST blood experiences have been in Egypt. The phlebotomists there are just like...pro...or something.

    HERE whenever I got an IV or blood work done I'd end up with a nasty ol' bruise. But THERE it was like *poke* done. So awesome. The dude (the clinic I went to only had one phlebotomist) would hit my vein perfectly every time. He was my hero.

    I actually don't remember them putting the IV in at the hospital--they did it while I was screaming something to the effect of "SO HELP ME! IF YOU PUT ANYTHING INSIDE OF ME I WILL RUN OUT OF THIS ROOM! DON'T TOUCH ME! ANDREW!!! MAKE THEM STOP!"

    It was a dramatic day, what can I say? :D

  9. I'm also a passer outer. It is not even the blood or anything...it is like you described the needle actually entering my body...gross-o. The last time I had blood drawn, I passed out and one of my former students was there to revive me. I wish I could describe how embarrassing it was. I made it through all my pregnancy stuff and I only almost passed out once. Maybe there is something to hormones. I do my best to talk to the vampires while they take my blood and warn them that I get woozy. I feel that I'm in good company if you don't love it either.

  10. Oh my sweet friends! Not that I'm happy in your pain and suffering, but I was convinced that I was the only one who was plagued by this. I shall think of our band of passer outers, united in freaking out, next week when I go under the needle again.

    Thank you