actually, secrets are a bit of a misnomer. this and the following
stories are probably more my quirks and little things throughout the
years I’ve experienced that stick out in my head, more than real down
and dirty secrets. anyways, here goes something.

poke-a poke-a poke-a

when I was going through my younger teen years, i was pretty
susceptible to every cold and flu and miscellaneous thing that was
going around. of course, schools are breeding and feeding grounds for
all that stuff.

my mom, like every red blooded mother, I
think, was really into making sure I went to the doctor for every
little sneeze or sniffle to get it checked out. and of course, this
meant a visit to the small town clinic. and it meant getting blood
taken. ALWAYS. it didn’t matter if it was a cold that 2 days rest and
fluids would take care of – or that the lab results on the blood tests
wouldn’t come back for two months – long after the disease had worked
it’s way out, the small town clinic and hospital doctors lived for
sucking vials of blood out of me.

at first, I was ok with
this, then it gradually got to be tiresome and something I did not care
for. finally, when I had my tonsils removed and had to get three
injections plus blood taken during my two day stay in saskatoon
university hospital, I had reached my peak anxiety and developed an
intense fear of needles.

And
shut up, it’s not just like a mosquito bite, you fucking nurses. If
mosquitos bit like an injection, west nile would the least of our
mosquito related worries.

the next time I was taken in
to visit the doctor in the winter, he had suspected I had contracted
mono. (oo, the kissing disease, how sexy ).
of course, this meant the nurse had to take blood to verify the
doctor’s diagnosis. while strapping the rubber tubing to arm, my first
tact was to try and convince the nurse of all the reasons she didn’t
need to take my blood. when that didn’t work, I told her I’d prefer the
other arm for the blood withdrawal. once she had firmly affixed the
tube to my left arm, I told her I had changed my mind, and preferred
she take blood from the right arm. the rubber tubing was messed up by
this switching, so the nurse had to turn to grab a new one. in the time
her back was turned, I got up from the chair and bolted out of the
hospital.

now
that I look back, I can laugh at how silly i must have looked, in jeans
and t-shirt and stocking feet running through the backalleys in the
dead of a cold winter in a small saskatchewan town. but at the time I
was most assuredly running unconcerned about my appearance, as though
the very devil was after me in a nurse’s uniform. I found a warm hiding
spot and eventually made it back to the house, where my mother decided
it was probably not necessary for the blood to be drawn that day. sigh
of relief, perhaps this is the end of this needle stuff. or is it?

i found myself sitting in a small office, looking at a south african
man who’s intensely looking back at me, asking me questions about my
fear of needles and why and how and what. oh yes, she did it. my mother got me an appointment with a shrink, because of my fear of needles.

my first recollection as I sat down in the chair facing him was that he
pulled out a syringe, which made me cringe, and proceeded to slip the
point deftly through the webbing between his thumb and index finger,
leaving the syringe dangling there for me to gawk at. I’m sure there
were a few things on my mind at that point, but at the top of the list
is, "Ok, I’m a smart kid, I know where you’re going with this. How do I
get outta here?"

he produces another syringe for me, sliding
it across the desk to me, sheathed. "You can keep this", he says. "But
you don’t need to do anything with it today". I’m still staring
open-mouthed, alternately at the still-punctured web on his hand and
the needle he wants ME to take home. "Is this guy mentally balanced?",
I think to myself.

but he is. I had a month’s worth of
sessions. he used a few of the textbook approaches of psychiatry.
Association, in particular. he had set up a miniature statue of Rodin’s thinker on the right hand side of his desk, and a replica of one of those robaxacet dolls
(yanno, from those arthritis commercials) on the left hand side. he
gradually teaches me to associate looking to the right as being worried
about things that don’t necessarily exist, such as pain, failure, etc.
He teaches me alternatively, that by looking to the left, I am the
ragdoll, nothing effects me, I am cool, calm, collected.

On
the last session, he has me use the syringe. I slide it effortlessly in
and out of the webbing on my fingers, all the while, looking to my left
hand side at the wooden doll. I’m ok!

To this day, I won’t lie to you, needles still bother me, but I can get injections and get blood drawn if I need to.

and strangely, the technique of mental association the good doctor
taught me is a technique that I use all the time. watch me when I’m
nervous or feel out of place. you’ll see me looking often to my left
and avoiding looking to my right.  all situations – in job
interviews, when I’m meeting sexy redheaded girls for the first time,
AND when I’m getting blood drawn. my brain’s just pulling an image of
that carefree robaxacet doll into my eyes to remember that my current
situation is not worth worrying too much about.

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