Yesterday morning I cleared the waiting room of my GP’s surgery in one fell swoop by fainting. It happened in a very macho, masculine, falling-pine manner of course; that is my recollection and I’m bloody sticking to it!
I’d been at the surgery to have a blood test, a terrifying prospect that had kept me awake for the previous two nights. I managed the ordeal only with some moral support present to hold me in the chair and to keep me distracted whilst the nurse tugged an elasticated band tight around my upper-arm. The band had some cartoon characters on it but that was as much as I could bear to see. I closed my eyes, clenched my teeth and held back the tears like a five-year-old. There was a burning pain in my arm and the needle waggled around in my vein, there were clicks of containers being opened and closed. I only opened my eyes when the time came to hold the cotton-wool on my arm, I spotted two vials of blood sat on top of their plastic envelopes. As soon as was possible I bolted from the torture cell. As I’d been pretty-much holding my breath for several minutes I only got as far as the waiting room when I flaked-out on some chairs. I immediately got seen by three GPs simultaneously, one holding my legs in the air, another doing a finger-prick glucose test, and the third taking my blood pressure. Now that’s good service!
In retrospect I can make it seem amusing, but unless you have a similar parallel in your own life you cannot imagine how frightening a ‘routine’ thing like a blood test is for me. I’ve had a totally irrational phobia of needles for as long as I can remember. I haven’t been able to trace the origins of my aversion to needles in particular, but visits to surgeries and hospitals – even just to see someone else – have made me feel physically sick for as long as I can remember. Even the opening notes of Casualty’s theme tune create such deep and uneasy feelings in me that I simply can’t explain them to anyone without sounding like I’m totally mental. I have to turn it off or leave the room – it’s the same deal for any medical drama. Please don’t laugh at that, and please don’t take the piss out of the phobias of others. Being told how tiny the needles are (with the standard thumb to index-finger measurement held in my face) or how I ‘won’t feel a thing’ really fucks me off. My fears, regardless of their source or rationale, are magnified to a scale where I cannot keep them in any kind of perspective and I become overwhelmed by an uncontrollable level of panic that someone without a phobia simply cannot imagine.
Okay – you can laugh about the Casualty music thing, I know that really is messed-up.