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October 11, 2001

Overcoming Phobias

I gave blood today. For the first time in my life. I was spurred by the September 11 crimes to try to contribute something meaningful, and I knew my workplace would be holding a blood drive, so I committed to do it.

I can't tell you how much I hate needles. The only thing which causes me more anxiety is agressive stinging insects such as wasps. I walked over to the Commons to sign up, and I felt like I was marching to my own doom. When I started reading the info form, the volunteer asked me what my name was. I told him, and he said I wasn't on 'the list'.

"There's a list?" I thought. Next to me was a coworker, Brent, reading the same pamphlet.

The volunteer said, "we're all full for the day, sorry."

"Oh, well," I said, breathing a sigh of relief.

Then Brent pipes up with "it asks here if I've ever had malaria. I don't know, but I think I might have." How do you not know if you've had malaria before?

Moments later, Brent was walking out the door, and the volunteer was saying "looks like we have an opening." My heartrate started to go up again. Man did I feel queasy. I really felt like I was coming down with the flu right there. But I started going through the gauntlet, and maybe thirty minutes later I was walking back to my office, with a rather conspicuous blue elastic bandage wrapped around my elbow.

So I got on that horse, right? I conquered my irrational fear and now everything's fine? No way! I've got on the order of eight weeks while my body rebuilds red blood cells to think about whether I want to put myself through this again. And right now, I just don't know if I want to.

Posted by dpwakefield at October 11, 2001 12:43 PM