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hug_of_war's avatar

I don't do well with blood draws, does anything help?

Asked by hug_of_war (10351 points ) May 16th, 2014 from iPhone

I need blood tests done for graduate school (ugh!) and I’m really distressed over it. I tolerate vaccines, but just barely. I’ve gone into full-blown hysterics when an IV has been attempted to be put in, to the point I’ve done everything to fight whoever is trying to put it in.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me but when they start tightening that band to put in an iv or draw blood my flight-or-fight response goes into overdrive. It’s like I am no longer in control and I will do anything to get away from that situation. I always have to be gased before surgery, as my attempts to handle the iv have gone terribly.

What am I going to do?

To clarify: I am not afraid of the results, and am moderately afraid of the pain, but not to the same level as my panic

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24 Answers

janbb's avatar

Have you ever used Xanax? Taking one before a blood draw might calm you down. Also, I imagine you know this but don’t look at what they are doing.

canidmajor's avatar

If you have enough advance notice, I would recommend being hypnotized. A good hypnotherapist can redirect your fear reaction.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ve been stuck so many times, I just watch. It’s a tiny needle, it might smart for a bit, but it’s required sometimes.

Coloma's avatar

Just tell yourself you are a brave little soldier and ask for a lollipop and a balloon when you are all done. :-)
I give pints of blood all the time and am the research facilities best comic donor. Ya gotta find the humor in your neuroses. lol
Get yourself some Superman/woman bandaids :-)

canidmajor's avatar

What @hug_of_war is describing, with “full-blown hysterics” and “panic” sounds like a phobia, not something that a little self talk can help.

Another thought, @hug_of_war, you’re not alone feeling this way. Call the lab or the doctor’s office ahead of time and explain your situation, they may be able to help you out.

Good luck with this!

dappled_leaves's avatar

The thing to do is fight your phobia when you don’t need to have blood drawn. See a therapist if you can’t figure out what it is that has you so panicked. There has to be some trigger for your reaction – but you’re never going to be able to solve it in the days or minutes before the procedure. Work on it when there’s less pressure to get it done.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

The MOST IMPORTANT thing, as @janbb said is, ”DON’T LOOK

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@hug_of_war What is the most you have ever been hurt? Compare that to that little stick. See it yet?

Mariah's avatar

I know it can be hard to introduce rationalism into phobic situations but remind yourself that there’s basically no way you can get actually injured from a blood draw. There is zero actual threat in the situation, it’s just kind of icky.

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Buttonstc's avatar

Is there a hard deadline for getting this blood test done? You mention graduate school, so I’m going to assume Sept. sometime.

I had the exact same thing (and still do regarding an IV which would have to stay in for any length of time.)

As mentioned before, you are dealing with a phobia. This is an irrational response but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s out of your control.

Buy here’s the good news. There is a well documented successful treatment method which absolutely works. It’s called progressive desensitization.

I totally doubted it would work when the Dr. told me about it. But it did. But it does take some time; usually a few months.

If you’re currently in college, you should go to the student health center and get a referral to someone who has experience with this technique for treating phobias.

People who have never experienced a phobia have little idea what you are dealing with. Just find a Therapist experienced in phobia desensitization and deal with this issue now. You will never be forced to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.

I know it’s hard to imagine that anything could work for this problem but I’m not unique. Loads of people have been helped to overcome this. All it requires is a bit of time and a willingness to do whatever the therapist instructs you to do. It’s a very gradual process. That’s why it takes a bit of time.

Go find yourself the proper therapist and begin the process.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I just sit and watch the bag fill but I understand why some people get anxious. @Buttonstc what you say is correct. I used to be afraid of heights but at one point my job required working in an open access tunnel on a platform almost 200’ down. It was accessed through a friggin “enclosed” ladder mounted vertically to the side of the tunnel shaft. I did it multiple times and don’t fear heights as much now.

johnpowell's avatar

Oh my god I hate needles. My doctor about 15 years ago gave me a tennis ball with a hole in it to squeeze during the procedure. Between closing my eyes and iPod and tennis ball it is manageable.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

When I was in high school I dated a guy who workked nights at the hospitol doing phlebotamy. He was the youngest guy on the team, but the very best. Some people just have a knack, and some never will. He was the only one who stuck babies, because it is tricky, and everyone felt better letting him do it. He wanrted to type my blood for fun one night when things were slow. I was a total whimp about needles. I told him no way. Another friend who was also visiting his work said he wanted to know his blood type. My boyfriend did it, but he made it sqirt on purpose. I had to go home.
I had to go into surgery maybe a year before that. They made me dopey first, then they were supposed to put me under in the OR. I had this druggie flashback of seeing a Mission Impossible episode when I was little. Somebody was killed when a bad guy injected poison in his IV. That nurse was going to put a needle into my IV! I swung at her and knocked her across the room, dumping the tray of instuments. (Poor girl)
I KNOW the panic, but over the years I have donated quite a lot of blood and plasma.
It became okay for me when I took charge.

Find out who the go to guy is. Most places have SOMEBODY who is just a natural. When I became a regular donor, I asked them out front and loud who does the whimps. Everyone, including the donors called out, “STEVE, you have a new one!” Knowing he was that trusted helped, but I was still nervous. When he got to me, I told him, “Do you see where my hand is while you get ready to stick me? If you hurt me, I will grab what is closest, and hurt you back.” He smiled, said, “Ooo baby!” as he slid a needle into my vein.

You may have fears based on something from so long ago, you can’t remember what started them. If hypnosis (as already suggested) is realistic for you, give that a go. Just keep in mind, you are not a victim. You are in charge. You have the right to ask for someone specific. People who advise to not look are people who don’t know the panic. Looking is exactly what you should do. Be in charge of your own “bleed”. Watch. Feel the fascination of watching what takes place. It is something you can handle, and watching takes the control from them, and gives it to you.
Whenever I need any blood drawn, I always ask for the whimp-sticker, but I’ve gotten much better at it. Be in charge, know you are not a victim, watch, and keep a sense of humor. You will do fine.

BosM's avatar

I share your feelings about this, absolutely hate having my annual blood work done.

The best advice I can give you is to start hydrating 24 hours prior to the blood work. Drinking plenty of water will insure your veins are easy to find and it makes the process much easier.

Also, you should let them know of your anxiety about this so they assign an experienced person to you, this makes a big difference. Finally, don’t look, it will be over before you know it. Good luck

zainety's avatar

Close your eyes and think of a safe place and where your in control.

hug_of_war's avatar

I made it through by not looking at any point and having the nurse talk to me at the same time kept me distracted.

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