Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Fear Factor

I used to wonder how people can have phobias. I mean, I was puzzled especially at the fear of heights thingy that people had. I love heights! There is nothing scary about them. Tall buildings give an excellent view! I refused to believe that people could have fears which they just can't face. Until I discovered that I also had fears.

It was quite a recent discovery. I'd say, a 2-3 year old discovery. I used to mistake the fear for general discomfort, which I thought everybody felt! Apparently I was wrong.

I have a fear of two things (so far :P)

1. Snakes
2. Needles

I guess the snakes part of it is pretty common. Loads of people are frightened. And for good reason. They are unlike any other animal that we human beings are familiar with. They are like long slimy tubes that wriggle, slither and move weirdly (no bias or whatever! I know that snakes aren't really slimy, they just look like that. And I know that in some aspects, their movement is pretty graceful and in some ways a wonder of nature how they propel themselves without legs/wings/fins. I just am very uncomfortable). In fact, I learnt that my feeling towards snakes was just more than general discomfort. I found out that I was one of the few people who gets freaked by looking at snakes on TV! Not even reality. I rarely enter reptile houses in zoos. Even when I do, I keep my head bent and never look into the enclosures. On TV, I can watch ANY animal on Discovery Channel or Animal Planet, but NOT SNAKES. I get incredibly freaked. Here's an example of how scared I really am.

Once I was getting really bored in my room so I decided I would borrow the film "Epic Movie" from a friend of mine to just watch a scene or two. I was just curious. The movie is a parody of some 20+ movies (Clueless and I sat and counted the references :P). And of course, "Snakes on A Plane" had to be one of them!!! The first time I watched that scene (without Clueless... I was just testing the movie to see if it was worth watching before she came in), I freaked! The minute the first snake appeared, I was so scared that I jumped out of my chair and hid in the wardrobe. Hey! Don't laugh! I was too scared to just hit the pause button with the mouse! Or touch my computer at all! I just couldn't look at the screen! So I sat in my wardrobe till that scene got over, cautiously peeked out, then promptly called Clueless. Yeah, so the bottom line is that I realised stuff such as "fear of blah" truly exists and its more than just discomfot! And I have a fear of snakes!

But I seriously never thought I had a fear of needles. Again, I thought it was general discomfort. That was until I went for my first blood donation last year. I was brave (relatively speaking. Gimme a break! Everyone's nervous before their first donation!) all the way till the filling of form part. Then I visited the doctor and everything was fine. After that I realised that I had to get my finger pricked so they could test the iron content in my blood! I broke into a cold sweat on the spot. I am not kidding when I say I actually thought of giving up. Afterall, we sign a form that says we are free to drop out anytime. So I thought I'd exercise that freedom and just drop out. No need to donate blood! I mean, I'm sure loads of other people will donate and there'lll be enough to go around. I just stood there trembling. My friends pushed me to the testing station. They said I had to face my fears and get through it. It was just a prick! It wouldn't hurt any more than an ant bite, they said. And I knew they were right. But I was just so frightened. I sat down at the station and extended my hand. I almost cried when the doctor swabbed my finger and got ready to prick. Even before the prick! I was actually almost in tears because I was scared. But all went well and I got my blood tested (I have a good iron content by the way! :D *touchwood*). Phew... That was the worst they said. I was feeling so relieved. I walked into the room where they were ushering in the donors. I was shown to a nice comfortable chair. Then the nurse started swabbing forearm.

Oh shit!

Again fear crept in and I just wanted to get up and walk out. Soleil was on the chair next to mine. She already got the shot and was giving blood. She told me not to look at what the nurse was doing and told me to keep talking to her and managed to distract me. Finally the blood was flowing into the bag and I felt better. Relaxed. The worst was over! The first donation is the scariest they say.

I didn't go to donate blood again for a long time. Almost an entire year. I kept telling myself it was because I don't have time. But in life, you always have time to do what you want, provided you really want to do it. I guess I never went coz I knew plenty of needles are involved everytime you donate blood (3 to be precise. 3 needles).

Then recently I got an email about a mega blood donation drive. Clueless and I decided we had to go. I was surprised that I wasn't nervous or scared. Not the day before donation, not on the way to the donation centre, not while I filled forms. I thought it was because this was my second time and I knew what to expect, I wasn't scared. But then I was made to sit in a waiting area which was right opposite to the blood testing station.

Oh shit!

All the irrational fear came rushing back. I didn't want to go ahead with the donation. I wanted to walk out and just sit in some waiting area while Clueless donated. I wasn't going to go through 3 needles again. I could feel my hands turn cold. When I went to the doctor's room for examination, my pulse rate was actually elevated and she had to check and recheck my blood pressure! The doctor looked at me and asked me if I was ok. I told her, I was just nervous and she had to suppress a smile. Nervous enough to elevate the pulse!!!! I went trembling to the testing station, hoping and praying there would be a few people there waiting in a queue so I'd have time to gather my courage and determination and all. I really really wanted to walk out. But as fate would have it, nobody was there at the station! The usher pushed me into a seat next to the examiner. My hands turned cold. Thankfully one of my friends was there. He had just finished his test. He realised that I was scared and that Clueless was in the doctor's office and I needed moral support. He was nice enough to wait with me and talk to me during the process to keep my mind off the needle! It stung, but I went through with it!

I wont elaborate anymore. I went to the donation room and told the nurse bravely about my phobia. I decided it was time i accepted the fact that I had a phobia and to face it and get rid of it. She was nice enough to keep me distracted and talking while she did everything. At the end of it all, she told me I was a brave girl! :D I know its the sort of thing you'd tell little kids when they get injections, but it felt good!

After everything was over, I walked over to th refreshments room. I was served milo and curry puffs. As I sat there eating, I overheard the conversation between 2 girls.

Girl 1: Are you donating blood?

Girl 2: No!!! I can't donate blood it seems. I am underweight :( My bone mass is low. This is the third time I have been rejected :(

Girl 1: Oh! Thats sad! You should drink more milk to get calcium

Girl 2: Yeah, I do drink. Lets see. Maybe next drive they will let me! There's always hope! :)

Girl 1: Yeah

Girl 2: Did you donate blood?

Girl 1: Oh no! I didn't! I don't think I will ever donate blood!

Girl 2: Why? You also have some weight problem? Or blood iron content problem or something?

Girl 1: No no... I am pretty healthy. Just too scared of needles. Not worth donating blood if I have to face needles!

I don't mean to boast or anything. But please just give me this opportunity to say that for the first time, I actually felt truly proud that I donated blood. Because I think it is totally worth facing needles, no matter how scared I am, if it will save someone's life. Yeah sure, so I could have been more regular since my first donation and I know I almost backed out more than once. I know I almost walked out. But the point is, I didn't! Inspite of being scared enough to have an elevated pulse rate, cold sweats, cold palms and tears in my eyes, I went through it and donated loads of blood. Sitting there in that refreshments room, for the first time, I felt truly satisfied that I did something good. I know that a truly selfless person would not brag about the stuff they do. But I have known myself for so many years and I know what is characteristic of me. If I am scared of something, I will absolutely refused to face it. And even if I step in to try out, the fear will become so intense that I will drop out. I have quit and given up so many times (maybe one of the major reasons why I am not studying in IIT). But not this time. This time I pushed myself (with the help of my awesome friends!) and did something even though I was scared. I didn't give up like the girl. For once I was actually brave!

It really feels good :)

Here are pics from today's blood donation adventure :)

The band they put around my arm. Last time I got a brilliant purple!

The spot of my blood on the bandage they had put to stop the bleeding. A testimony to what I had done :)
After removing their bandage, I put on a bandaid coz I couldn't bear to look at the tiny hole in my skin. Brings back needle memories

They gave us a certificate!!! Not that it was necessary. I wasn't expecting one and couldn't care less if they didnt give it. Its just something I will take back to show my parents. They can be proud that their little girl is an adult now and donating blood... finally! :P :P :P And that for once, she didn't back out because she was too scared! :D

I never thought I was the kind who could face her fears. I guess I was wrong. Its nice to know that beneath the nervous and frightened exterior, there is some courage in me that pushed me through the whole donation process. Mind you, I am still scared of needles! But facing them is the first step right? Maybe if I donate blood more regularly, I will eventually get over this fear totally (though I somehow doubt it. When I was small, I got pneumonia or something like that and had to get 2 injections everyday, once in the morning and once in the evening. Many people thought that would make me more comfortable with needles. But even after that I was reluctant to get shots!). Next step, go to the reptile house and say "Hi!" to my reptilian friends!

(Just an afterthought after reading an article about Kurt Cobain and drug abuse. One thing that will never happen is me doing drugs!!! Apart from the whole "its bad for you, illegal, wrong and deadly" angle, there are needles involved! :P :P :P)

(Another afterthought... after reading Clueless' comment. I have a fear of ghosts :P sometimes I sleep with the lights on at night! But thats a different story ;) )


Clueless said...

Yay! Bravo, girl. You truly were "macho" today! :D *applauds*

I'm not too comfortable with needles either, but I agree that it's totally worth it if it means you're saving a life in the process. I wish we (or at least I) could do this more often! :/

Hee! Step 2 is facing up to your fear of snakes? Ok, then. For Step 3, I'm taking you to watch "Alone" with me in the theatres. :P ;)

soleil said...

Macho! I must say you're really a brave girl! Sometimes it's hard to understand others' fears when you yourself don't have that fear. I can't imagine how you must've felt. Too bad I couldn't be there with you this time to distract you. But the important thing is that you completed it :D I'm proud of you!

sowparnika said...

I have known you for so long but I did not have any idea about your fears!Were we so busy talking about other things?!?!
As a matter of fact,I prefer to be on the second floor primarily cos I am scared of all possible moving creatures!

Macho Girl said...

Haha! Thanks and no thanks!!! If the friggin trailer of the movie managed to force me to sleep with the lights on.... :P :P

Maybe next time we can go together and you can distract me :)

Haha, yeah! I just realised that we never really talked about fears!!! For some reason I thought you didn't like second floor :P I'm so ashamed of myself!!!!!

Shweta said...

ooh snakes. soulmate!