5 things I learnt from having blood taken
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Fear of needles
A few weeks ago, I had to visit the health clinic to fulfil the requirements of my Visa application with Immigration. While I anticipated that it would likely all go well, I still had a niggling sense of anxiety around what was going to happen that morning as I knew that it would affect my application. Ultimately, I came out the other side and everything was fine, but with an increased awareness towards the fear of needles, or trypanophobia, and the fact that I was going to face one that day, I decided to focus on the small details of the experience. Here are five things I learnt.
1 - Anticipation makes it worse
Sat in the waiting room, knowing full well that you are about to see a needle, and that the medical staff are going to use it, for whatever reason, is a challenge. What can often make it worse that was most certainly true on my visit, the waiting time. It took 40 minutes for my name to be called and that is enough time for a sufferer of needle fear to talk themselves out of following through with the procedure. Time to anticipate an experience that is feared often heightens the fear to another level.
2 - Staff are there to help
There is no doubt in my mind that the staff who are there to take your blood, give you a dose of medicine or whatever the reason for the injection, they are also there to care for you. They are trained professionals who have worked hard to be responsive to the needs of the patients they have in front of them. So if you want to feel empowered and ask lots of questions to own the experience, or explain that this is something that you aren’t all that excited about, they will listen and they will help. You just have to say.
3 - To look or not look
For some, the phobia of needles can be the sight of one, the sensation or just the idea of having their skin pierced. Some people will not be bothered to look when it happens, and some may refuse outright to look directly at the procedure. Personal preference is important here - look if you want, avert your eyes if not. There isn’t a right or wrong here.
4 - Distractions can be key
As a coping strategy, you might want to distract your mind from what is happening. When I was in the clinic, I noticed that on the wall there were three or four posters aimed at patients of all ages to read, laugh at or play the game of finding Wally. Some clinic rooms might be empty of this kind of thing, so you might strike up a conversation throughout with the staff (like me) or come prepared with a book, some music or even a game of your own, like on your phone.
5 - It doesn’t take long
Once you are called up and your time to have an injection comes, you are often done quicker than you’d expect. I asked the staff that I was with what they thought the average time was with a patient and they reckoned 10 minutes. That’s including the data protection checks, preparation of the equipment, finding the vein, injection, clean up and answering any questions. Obviously this will differ based on how long you might want to spend explaining your phobia or going through a routine you might have developed as a coping strategy. But realistically, knowing that it is a short experience, might make it easier.
So from one trip to have a straightforward medical health check, I learnt that for those suffering from a fear of needles, that phobia can have a big impact on their health and wellbeing, that goes far beyond an Immigration requirement. If you would like to read more about trypanophobia, why not read what Life with needle phobia can be like in one of our earlier articles?
oVRcome are continuing to develop their programme which utilises exposure therapy using virtual reality technology to support individuals with phobias, such as trypanophobia. Why not take our Fear of Needles test and receive a free customised report with some actionable tips for your severity level?