When I was two years old my parents took me in for my regular check-up. I was a good little girl, and all of my previous appointments had gone well. This one started out the same. I was sweet, behaved for the doctor, and was brave when it came time to get my shots. They put the needle in and I didn’t cry a bit. Then, a few seconds later and with no drama to speak of, I passed out.
From that moment for the next fifteen years or so I passed out every. single. time I did anything involving a needle. Every time I had to get shots, when I had to get blood work done, when I had to get IVs, even when I got my ears pierced.
It became such a problem that I started avoiding needles if at all possible. I got cavities drilled and filled with no pain medicine because I would rather endure the pain than get the shot. When I was pregnant with Adeline, I decided on a natural birth. There were many, many reasons for that, but I’d be lying if I said that avoiding needles wasn’t one of those reasons.
When I was in high school, my school hosted a blood drive. I decided that it was time for me to get my act together. I decided I would donate. When they pricked my finger to test my iron levels, I passed out. No donation for me.
But then things started to get a little better. In college, I got bitten by a stray dog and I had to go in for rabies shots. Five shots in one day, five different times. The first day I passed out. After that, I was good. In the ten years since then I’ve managed to get flu shots and travel vaccinations without passing out. When I was pregnant I had to have several vials of blood drawn for blood work and I got through it. Maybe my days of passing out are over, I realized.
Despite all that, though, needles still terrify me. When I made my 30 Before 30 list I included the entry, “Do something that terrifies me”. At the time, I didn’t know what that would be. A few months ago I realized: I needed to donate blood.
Today was the day. David dropped me off at the donation center and took Addie on a shopping trip to keep her out of the way. I answered all the screening questions and when she pricked my finger to test my iron I was fine. We went to the back and I sat down in the reclined chair. She picked a vein and marked it. We talked about our kids and watched the Olympics on the small TV in the corner while she put the needle in. The blood started flowing. I had done it!
And then I passed out.
One moment I was saying that the women’s basketball team looked good. Then I started to feel my body floating up and the lights were flickering in the corners of my eyes. My head felt big and spacious, like a balloon about to float away. “I’m going to pass out,” I managed to tell the nurse. Then I was gone.
The deepest sleep you’ve ever had. The kind of sleep you fall into after the most exhausting day of your life. Then someone wakes you up right in the middle of a dream. You fight it. Why are you waking me up? You want to yell, but your voice doesn’t seem to work. Slowly, lights. Someone is touching your face, there are strange hands on your body.
“Sara, do you know where you are?”
What? No! Where the hell am I? What’s going on. Shit, what’s going on? Why can’t I remember where I am? Who are these people? What’s happening? I can’t open my eyes. I can’t think straight.
The Olympics. My eyes catch a glimpse of the basketball game still playing on that small TV. I was watching the Olympics. My eyes open more. Ladies in blue. So many ladies in blue. Who are they? My eyes find someone’s eyes. Ah. I remember. And then the shakes come. Always, immediately upon remembering, the shakes come. I’m shaking uncontrollably and soon I’m crying. Not because I’m sad or emotional. It’s just the adrenaline release. It’s just the next step. A few minutes after that, and many deep breaths later, I’m back to normal. Three juice boxes and six cookies later I can walk out of the building.
But I didn’t get to donate blood.
Tell me if I’m wrong, but I say I’m still crossing it off my list. I walked into that center. I let them put the needle in my arm. I was terrified and I did it anyway. I’m sad and embarrassed that I couldn’t donate, but I’m proud that I tried. That’s what this list is all about, right?
Here’s the list so far. I still have some work to do in the next 2.5 months.
- Fund 30 Kiva loans (21 so far! Please join my team!!)
- Submit something to be published
- Do 30 Days of Truth (In progress)
- Learn Photoshop
- Get a new tattoo
- Write a novel (or participate in NaNoWriMo)
- Finish Project 52 (In progress)
- Get something published
- Go somewhere I’ve never been before
- Climb a 14K
- Forgive someone
- Find my go-to Karaoke song
- Master one yoga pose
- Do a cleanse
- Go to an opera
- Master a difficult song on the piano (In progress)
- Find a good place to volunteer and start volunteering
- Start composting
- Print photo albums
- Learn how to use camera in manual mode
- Do something that terrifies me
- Write a business plan
- Do something fun for my 30th birthday
- Audit a science class
- Take a hot air balloon ride
- Paint a picture
- Watch the Godfather movies
- Purchase a very expensive, staple item of clothing/accessory
- Get a facial
- Forgive myself