Those of you who know me and know anything about my medical history are going to start rolling your eyes when you read this. That's ok. Truth be told, I'm kinda rolling my eyes at myself right now too. I did something incredibly embarrassing today but the sad part is that it's something that no one who knows me is at all surprised about. Somehow I think that makes it even worse.
I passed out. And not just once mind you, oh no, no, no. Cause where's the fun in that? No, I managed to pass out twice--in a span of about sixty seconds--during the blood drawing part of the physical I had to get done today. As part of the preparation to begin my new job I had to go in this morning and fill out lots of paperwork, take a drug test and get this physical done. I have quite possibly the world's weakest stomach when it comes to anything anatomical. I'm a complete wimp! I don't even have to see blood to get woozy either, that's what's so sad about all this. Just talking about it, or hearing someone else say anything about blood or guts or bones or nerves and I start getting a little light headed. I've been this way my whole life and I've taken no small amount of flak for it over the years. I'm that kid who passed out in the high school Anatomy class while watching a surgery. I'm the one who passed out trying to give blood so many times that out of respect for the poor nurses working the blood drives I just quit going. I'm sure they got tired of picking me up off the floor every time I went. I'm the one who, in second grade when my mom came to talk to the class about very basic health and wellness techniques, had to leave the presentation when she started talking about how the bones and muscles in the body work together.
Here's what happened today. The physical began innocently enough with a lot of paperwork and with the nurse recording my medical history. Then we moved on to the shot portion of the exam. The hospital requires all employees to get a flu shot, and she suggested a tetanus booster for me as well, so I just got pumped full of all kinds of good stuff. At this point I was still perfectly fine; shots don't bother me at all. Then (dum dum dum) she told me she had to draw blood...
I told myself as she was sterilizing my arm and looking for a vein that this time was going to be different. "You can do this," I told myself. "It's just three little vials--you're 23 years old for goodness sake. Suck it up!" She tied the blue rubber band around my arm, tapper my inner elbow a couple times and we were off to the races. I made a deliberate effort NOT to look at my arm when she was inserting the needle, or when the blood started to flow down that little plastic tube into the vials. It sounds so simple but I'm telling you, it doesn't take much more than that to get to me. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she removed the second vial and inserted the third...and the next thing I know I'm laying on the floor. Usually in times like this I can feel myself starting to get light-headed and I can lay down or at least put my head down and fight it off. This one came out of nowhere though! I didn't see it coming at all.
The nurse told me later that she had seen me start to sway in my chair so she had immediately taken the needle out of my arm and grabbed me in a bear hug to keep me from face planting on the tile floor. As I came around she pressed a band-aid onto my arm, and yelled for another nurse to come into the exam room to help her. Together they got me situated back up in my chair and the first nurse brought me a cold cloth for my face. Now at this point you'd have thought the worst would be over; the needle has been put away and I've even got a band aid on for crying out loud! But no. No sooner did the nurse turn her back to wash her hands than I wake up on the floor again. This time I managed to knock over a cup of water on her desk in the process.
I'm sure by then these poor nurses were getting pretty darn fed up with me, and I don't blame them a bit. I mean really, who passes out twice like that? They were super sweet though, and took really good care of me while I "recovered." They took me next door to lay down on a bed (which also happened to be where a nursing class was going on so thirty or so students got to see what a wimp I am--bet they got a kick out of that) and they brought me a can of Sprite and made me drink the whole thing, and eat a scone as well, before they let me get back up. They kept trying to blame the passing out on my not eating breakfast this morning but I assured them, this had nothing to do with low blood sugar and everything to do with my inability to stomach the mere thought of blood, period.
I've been analyzing this a lot over the years and i think I've narrowed the problem down not to the blood itself per se, because today I didn't even see any blood, but to the feeling of having that tourniquet on my arm cutting the circulation off to my hand and fingers. It makes me nauseous just thinking about that, even now. Yes I'm a wimp. And yes, I realize this is ridiculous of me. I'm sorry!!! I can't help it! It's not like I'm passing out on purpose you know. I can think of better ways to spend my morning than laying on the floor in a tiny little exam room down at the hospital. Plus I feel horrible about making those poor nurses' jobs that much harder this morning.
The one good thing about this though, is that with the exception of my propensity to pass out at inconvenient times, I'm otherwise as healthy as a horse. So there.