This past week, I had to have my Day 21 progesterone blood test.
For any of you out there trying to get pregnant with PCOS, this is standard procedure.
However, for someone who has always lived in abject HORROR of coming into contact with a needle, this was something with which I had to come to terms.
Getting blood drawn was always my worst nightmare as a child, and seemed to become worse as I got older. I had hospital visits for an appendectomy and again when I had Mono, and both times, the nurses “couldn’t find a vein”, accused me of having “shallow veins”, and once they poked me, they’d dig around under my skin to find something.
(After typing that, I gagged.)
Also, once, when I had an IV removed, blood started spurting everywhere. This was made worse by the fact that I was on pain medication, so I was trippin’ balls at this point, and it was one of the most horrifying things in my recent memory.
(After typing THAT, I felt a chill run through my entire body.)
It’s not the needle itself that bothers me. I can get a shot, and it ain’t no thang! It’s the combination of the needle and the vein that really get me. That, and the fact that I have been told by a veteran nurse that I have small AND deep veins, which are really hard to access. I also hate when they have to push around with their fingers to make it pop up out of your arm, since it’s “hiding”…. makes me want to vomit.
So imagine my displeasure when I found out after being diagnosed with PCOS that I’d basically be a human pin cushion until AFTER I had a baby. Tests throughout my cycle, more once I got pregnant, and continuing every month or so during the pregnancy.
“Wait, maybe I could do this the old-fashioned way? Like, with midwives and stuff? No needles necessary!”
Most midwives won’t touch a pregnant woman with PCOS with a 10-foot pole. They have it hard enough as it is, since they are barely legal in some states, and illegal in others. (As far as the old-school home births are concerned, that is.) Since we tend to have WAY more interventions during pregnancy, they tend to stick with the less complicated patients, and push us towards our inevitable Cesarean section births by doctors who don’t want to hear about any alternative birth plans. (Don’t get me started on that.)
So I found out pretty quickly that I was “doomed” to standard care, needles and all.
Luckily for me, the phlebotomist at my office is PHENOMENAL. Usually, it takes her one prick, and she’s done. She knows me by name, knows of my loathing for needles, and gets it done as quickly as possible.
As nice as that is, it’s still a pain to have bruising in the crook of my elbow for the majority of each month. I have so many permanent needle pricks in my arms from reuse that I wonder what people who don’t know me might think.
I am so thankful for the above phlebo, because she really helped me to conquer my crippling fear of needles and having my blood taken. I am not a child…. I don’t need to cry and work myself into a frenzy over a needle. (Yes, I passed out when attempting to give blood once. It was embarrassing.) And after mental exercises depicting me sitting down, getting my blood taken, and getting through it, I had no more real problems with tears or fear.
Conquering any fear is a sign of growth. It’s a sign that we’re transcending our individual associations with a particular catalyst, and can see a bigger picture. I never let the fact that I got in an automobile accident in high school stop me from getting in the car, despite the fact that it was a scary experience; why would I let the fact that nurses in the past suck at taking my blood prevent me from potentially getting the medical care I need and deserve?
I learned a very valuable lesson with something that I thought would always just haunt me, and I’m pretty proud of that. And it just reinforces what I’ve always hoped; that this experience, with its ups and downs, would make me a better person…. whether I ended up getting pregnant or not.