Before we get this party started, here are three bits of information:
- I don't like needles.
- My worst fear is being unconscious. This fear outranks my fear of needles.
- Needles make me pass out.
Now that we have some context...onward.
On Friday morning, I went to visit the doctor for an annual physical. As far as I know, there is and there was nothing wrong with me, which is always good news, and also indicated that there would be nothing even remotely invasive (read: needles) involved. In typical fashion, I arrived to my appointment a rather unfashionable 17 minutes late, expecting (perhaps hoping?) the doctor would tell me that I was too late and I'd have to reschedule. But no! It was a lightly scheduled morning and the doctor was free. Good for my health, I guess.
The first half of the appointment was great. Everything checked out and you might as well call me a horse, because they say horses are healthy. She did note that my blood pressure was a little bit low, but that was nothing to be concerned about. UNTIL....
"When was the last time you had a tetanus shot?"
"Umm...I'm pretty sure it's been longer than five to ten years..."
"Yes, I don't see any record of that in your medical history since you've been a patient here, which was 2008. I think we'd better do that today. I also want to do blood work, since it's good to do that on a regular basis."
And yet I agreed to it anyway, because I figured that if I had to set up another appointment for both of those things, the nervous anticipation leading up to the event would be worse than having it sprung on me without notice.
I calmly informed the doctor about the passing out problem while internally weeping. I also asked her if it would be ok to have the phlebotomist use a child-sized butterfly needle, because it hurts a lot less and the bloodletting is slower, therefore making the sudden blood loss less faint-inducing. She was the nicest and agreed to all of the above, and then she left me to stew in my rising panic until the needle-bearing nurse arrived.
The tetanus shot was uneventful, mostly because it was small potatoes in comparison to the prospect of having my blood drawn. The nurse finished the shot in about five seconds, disposed of the needle with a kind smile, and left.
Then the phlebotomist walked in. Things were going fine until about 2/3 of the way through, when despite the fact that I was lying down, I started getting pretty woozy. I held myself together since I didn't want to look like a baby, and then asked for some water when she was done. She brought me some (thanks, Jan!), made sure I was alright, and then told me another nurse would be in shortly to take my blood pressure. After she left, I tried desperately to hold on to my slipping consciousness and spontaneously broke into a cold sweat. I tell you, hanging out with me at the doctor is SO FUN.
I managed to not faint, and soon another nurse arrived with a blood pressure cuff. She laughed when she could get no reading on my right arm, then checked her stethoscope when my left arm had nothing either. When the stethoscope proved to be fully functioning, I watched her face turn pale as she informed me that my blood pressure had become extremely low.
"I..um...it's REALLY low. Who saw you? I'm going to get her. Here's some water! Drink it all and DON'T LIE DOWN."
Which, of course, was awesome given my tenuous grasp on cognizance.
The doctor returned with a concerned look on her face, three packs of crackers, and two more cups of water. She told me to consume all of it, then walked out again.