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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Needles, blood and cookies, oh my!”

    I walked into the small room on the third floor of the Campus Health Service building. It was filled with stand-alone partitions, large chairs and happy-looking workers in lab coats. I held my breath.

    Was I actually going to do this?

    “”Are you here to give blood?”” the man behind the table asked me.

    I guess the look in my eyes said it all. “”First-timer? Please sign in and read over the information sheet.””

    Since I was a child I have shared a common fear with over half of the United States population: aichmophobia, or the fear of needles and sharp objects. My fear had progressed so much in recent years that when I was faced with a serious health problem, I was prescribed Emla, a topical cream that numbs the skin because I could not have my blood taken without freaking out.

    I have always wanted to give blood, but the thought of purposely asking to be stuck with a needle seemed like masochism. With a new year comes new goals, however, and one of mine was to face a fear.

    The first blood drive of the year on campus, put on by the Red Cross, seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.

    So, I wrote my name on the line and checked the appropriate boxes. Within five minutes it was known to the entire staff that I was terrified of what I was about to do, but they welcomed the challenge with open arms.

    “”After this you’ll be someone’s hero,”” Laura Kakuris, a donor services technician, said. “”You’re saving someone’s life.””

    I was taken into a small room where, after some prying into my personal life, it was determined that I could give blood. The whole time I was hoping that since I had begun to face my fear of needles only months before with a small tattoo, I would not be suitable. Tattoos done safely with new needles, however, do not make you ineligible to give blood.

    As they escorted me to the chair I would give blood in, I felt like I was walking my last few steps. When I was asked why I looked so scared, I bit my lip.

    “”First time,”” I told the staff members.

    Kakuris then attempted to bring my veins up. After some issues and eventually switching to my other arm, she told me “”I think I can get this one.””

    Not quite the confidence I was looking for.

    The next thing I knew my arm had been sterilized and now resembled a bad spray-on-tan in a perfect little square.

    “”Ready?”” Kakuris asked.

    “”No, but do it anyway,”” I said.

    I looked away and seconds later I felt the pressure of the needle hit my skin. I cringed. I could feel my heart beating in my arm. That was it, though; the hard part was over.

    Eight minutes and one second later I heard the bell, signifying that my one-pint bag was filled. That was it. I had donated blood.

    “”It’s not that bad,”” said Will Veatch, graduate student in hydrology and water resources, and a regular blood donor. “”I don’t like needles, but if you think about who needs this blood, a little needle is nothing compared to that.””

    Many donors share similar viewpoints when it comes to giving blood.

    “”The majority of people don’t like needles,”” Phyllis Slote, a phlebotomist at the drive, said. “”Most people are here just to help. They realize that we are always in dire need of blood.””

    With little more than two-dozen turning out to give blood, the numbers were lower than expected. This was probably because of illnesses and flu-like symptoms going around this time of the year, Kakuris said.

    As I drank my juice and ate my cookie, I began to rationalize: What I had just done was not that bad. Yes, it hurt and I was not excited about what happened, but I had done it, and I would be willing to again in the future.

    “”Most people who have an actual fear of needles don’t usually give blood,”” Kakuris said. “”But if they did they would be like you and realize it’s not so bad.””

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