Thursday morning I wrote about a particularly fun combination: an intense needle phobia, and a procedure involving an IV scheduled for 7:30 that night.
So yeah, how did that go down?
The morning wasn’t so bad. Work was busy, so a steady barrage of phone calls and e-mails kept my mind off it. Mostly.
Afternoon was worse. I wavered on my commitment to get it done, and had to talk myself out of canceling for the second time that day. I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing. The IV was a suffocating cloud, poisoning every thought, making it hard to breathe. I left work early, around 2:00, saying (with perfect honesty) that I felt nauseous and needed to lie down.
Things got better after that. I fired up TED.com and watched a few videos, including the ones I linked to on Friday. These were interesting, funny, and genuinely inspiring. They helped dispel the cloud.
Around 6:30 I practiced karate for ten minutes, which helped even more. (I continue to be amazed at the dramatic effect of physical exercise on my mood.) After that I did Zen meditation in the basement for another ten minutes, and managed to concentrate remarkably well, all things considered.
And then it was time.
I drove to the hospital, checked in with the receptionist, waited in the waiting room. I distracted myself by reading a magazine and walking around. After another ten minutes, the nurse came and got me.
I had a plan, and I followed it. I told her about my phobia; she was very kind and understanding through the whole procedure. I tried to sound cheerful (fake it till you make it!) and I think I succeeded. I lay down on the bed and carefully avoided looking at the needle as it went into my right arm. And for the next ten minutes, as the needle stayed in, I hummed Canon in D out loud, in one fast, continuous loop, focusing on nothing else. If my concentration ever wavered, I started to feel sick again, but I didn’t let that happen very often.
I never got any more nauseous during the procedure than I had earlier in the day. I never got spots across my vision, as I have during other procedures. And for whatever reason, I barely even felt the liquid dye going into my arm.
And then it was over.
I walked around the parking lot, giving myself a few minutes to make sure I wasn’t going to black out before I got in the car. I was ecstatic. I literally laughed out loud. I felt like, if I could do this, I could do anything. Victory.
It’s remarkable how fast that feeling wears off.
Looking back now, less than four days later, already the victory feels inevitable, unremarkable. I was fine, it was no big deal. Life goes on. It’s so easy to think this way.
But Thursday morning I was terrified, and I did it anyway. And I’m pretty damn proud of that.
The whole experience also gave me a very strong incentive to start up again with the phobia desensitization. I’ve moved on from photos, and now, every day, I’m watching actual videos of people giving blood. It’s hard, but it’s getting easier. I’m going to beat this thing.
Anyway – life does go on. How was your weekend?