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.