Thursday, December 07, 2006

Out Cold

My body has always responded poorly to prolonged contact with needles. By “responds poorly,” I mean I tend to pass out cold and create a scene. I don’t know why. I’m not afraid of needles particularly. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like getting stuck any more than the next person, but the thought of it doesn’t make me tremble and sweat or anything. It’s like my body just reacts however it wants, without consulting me. More than anything it just pisses me off. I’m not into dramatic scenes. I do not want to get “the vapors” and swoon in public like Scarlett O’Hara. I don’t have a delicate constitution. I don’t, dammit.

I’m usually fine with having a needle in my arm for the normal amount of time it takes to draw a vial or two of blood. I don’t look and I concentrate on just breathing and everyone gets through it without incident. Anything longer than that, and the odds that I’m going to lose consciousness increase dramatically. I’ve passed out a couple of times getting blood drawn. The first time it happened while an inexperienced phlebotomist dug around in my arm with a needle for an extended period of time, looking for a vein. The second time I keeled over after a vein couldn’t be located in one arm and I had to be stuck a second time in the other arm. In both cases, I tried to let the person working on me know that something was amiss, but I don’t know if I got anything more than a mumble out before sliding to the floor.

Then there’s the issue of donating blood. Hard as it may be to believe for anyone who knows me now, for the first 25 or so years of my life, I didn’t weigh enough to give blood. I lived on chocolate and Frosted Mini-Wheats and my weight hovered right around 100 pounds, more if I was in an emotionally stable phase, and less if I wasn’t. So, I was really excited when I finally met the minimum weight requirement and got to participate in the blood drives at work.

The first time I gave blood, everything seemed fine. I gave my pint and was relaxing with an Oreo and a cup of juice with all the other blood-givers. The next thing I know, I’m waking up on the floor with about 5 heads in my field of vision. People were shaking me and putting cold cloths on my forehead and there was quite a display. Thankfully somebody grabbed the cup of juice out of my hand before I hit the floor. No juice was spilled.

The second time, I went out just after the needle had been removed from my arm, while I was still in the recliner chair. This time the scene wasn’t quite as big because I didn’t collapse onto the floor, but it still caused some scurrying. After I passed out the third time, I mentioned to one of the nurse-type people that I had passed out every time I had given blood and was wondering why that was.

She patted me on the arm and said, “Honey, your heart’s in the right place, but maybe you shouldn’t try to do this anymore.”

The subtext: “Please stop coming down here and causing trouble for us.”

My blood-giving ended then and there.

And that brings us to today. Today I went to the dentist to get a couple of old fillings replaced. One of them has been causing me some pain and the dentist suggested replacing both of them because they’re right next to each other and about the same age. Well, you know what they do before they drill your teeth, right? They give you a shot of Novocain. A shot.

So you know where this is going, don’t you? That’s right. I passed out cold, right there in the dentist’s chair, after getting a shot of Novocain. I knew it was coming, and I know I told the assistant person that I was feeling woozy. I woke up with a blood pressure cuff on my arm and an oxygen mask on my face and at least three heads hovering above me. Apparently this happens sometimes, which is why they were so prepared. Who knew that a dentist needed to keep a blood pressure cuff handy? I didn’t until today. I’ve gotten plenty of Novocain shots before for dental work, but I’ve never lost consciousness over it until today. Apparently I’m becoming more sensitive in my old age. By the time I’m 60 I’ll probably faint at the sight of nail clippers or a tongue depressor.

Anyway, after about 20 minutes I felt normal again, and we went ahead with the filling replacement. I’ll have to say that the new fillings look pretty good. The old fillings were silver, but the new ones are tooth-colored and don’t even look fillings. All in all, I’m satisfied. But a little embarrassed. Why does everything have to be so complicated? Sigh.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This had me in stiches. Needles have never bothered me, and I just can't imagine keeling over when needles are involved... What happens if you need intravenous over a long period of time I wonder

7:09 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

People can sometimes pass out while giving blood, not so much from the loss of blood, but from a rapid decrease in body fluids - a sort of dehydration. What upsets me is not donating blood, but when a blood test lady gets over-zealous with those little vials. I count 'em "...3 ...4 ...5 hold on there, lady - what's the big idea?" Oh, and I fainted several times when I was pregnant with my sons, not sure why. It sucked, of course.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

Oh man they didn't take advantage of the pass out and fix the teeth then?? Geeze! I dislike going to the dentist... I wish I could pass out! Jill just think of it as opportunities to nap!

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not allowed to give blood either. They don't even like to let me in hospitals. I used to get weak watching health film strips. Once I fainted watching a play at the Globe Theater as a groundling. Very poor air circulation in the Globe. I sometimes I feel I should carry a lace hankie and some smelling salts, just in case.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately they don't tell smaller people that you really shouldn't give blood unless you are more like 130 lbs or so. It sounds like your body has a sensitive "fight or flight" response. Adrenaline starts pumping (without you really knowing it.) Next time you go to the dentist, dress in ridiculous amounts of warm clothing and even a stocking hat. Drink lots of water too. It helps to be warm and hydrated when you know your body will be receiving a "shock." Avoid caffiene too (impossible for me, being a coffee and chocoholic as well!) I hate the dentist but found one who doesn't give novacane because he says it shouldn't hurt to fix a filling if there is no decay around it. He was right. I didn't feel a thing and the shot was avoided. I get nervous when needles are anywhere near my mouth.

3:04 PM  
Blogger whippersnapper snapping snapped said...

Hello! Popped by because I liked the name of your blog, and then stayed a while. The last time I was at the dentist they gave me WAAAAAAAY too many drugs. According to my brother, who that day was serving as my chauffeur, when they were done with me I staggered out into the waiting area looking like dracula on speed (blood dripping out of mouth, crazed look in eyes, etc., etc.) He says on the ride home I kept opening up the window to stick my blood covered face out and go "MYAHHH" at the other drivers. And people wonder why I haven't been to a dentist in ten years....

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very funny. And perhaps a bit embarrassing. But hey, at least you were sitting down when you lost all awareness. That avoids falling in awkward positions with legs flared...if you know what I mean.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never minded the needles, but I did mind the rookie at the blood bank that did one arm too loose, so the tube popped out and the blood spurted, quite dramaticly, then put it in too tight in the other arm so the blood filled in under my skin, giving me a nice bubbley look... didn't go back for a while after that...

2:49 AM  
Blogger whippersnapper snapping snapped said...

Hello, I'm back, I read a whack of your archives. Honestly, this is the funniest blog I have EVER read (and believe me, I've read.... well, skimmed a lot of 'em.) That thing about the health bar should be published.

As soon as I can get to it I'm gonna link you. (Oooooh, big honour!)

9:52 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

jazz, It's funny. I've never had a problem with IVs. Maybe it's because they usually do those in the hand or the needle gets relpaced with some plastic thingy after they stick you. I don't know. I'm just weird.

anne, I know what you mean. Why do they need 4 vials of blood??

cheesy, Trust me, it's not a restful unconsciousness. :)

kara, You mean Shakespeare's Glode Theater? You must have been overcome by all the historical significance.

schmoopie, Sounds like you've got some experience. I never thought of trying to stay warm. Walking into the dentist's office in a parka and a stocking cap would be pretty funny. I might have to try it. :)

whippersnapper, That sounds like big fun. You should go to the dentist more often. :)

em, Not to worry. When I awoke, my legs were as demurely crossed as they had been when I lost consciousness. I actually thought that was a little weird, but I guess a reclined dentist chair is the perfect thing for catching a fainting person.

jk, Jeez, ick. I bet that left a bruise and a half. Bubbly is not a look that anyone needs.

whippersnapper, Wow thanks. Will check put your blog too.

8:44 AM  

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