“It’s OK- no problem”, I said. And I believed it. Or at least I wanted to believe it. All at once, involuntary, I was sitting straight up in the hospital bed, pulling my mask off to get air, feeling dizzy, and soaking the sheets with sweat. My gut felt like warm molasses, topped off with an entire box of Pop Rocks.

It had happened again. Another doctor’s office flip out. Besides feeling miserable, I was also disappointed. I thought these days were over.

I was in a G.I. office for my first ever procedure, a colonoscopy. The drama was situated around my first ever IV, which they were trying to insert. 

I’d never been a “needles guy”. Maybe it had to do with my initial bad experiences. The first three times I had to give blood or get a blood test, they missed the vein. Sometimes more than once. This knocked me into a mental tailspin that recurred most every time needles were involved. But I’d been working on my mind. I was growing out of that. Or at least I thought I was.

I was a little nervous about having my first IV, although everyone told me it was no different than getting blood drawn, which had become no big deal to me over the years. Had the nurse not mentioned that she missed the vein, I probably would have been fine. But for some reason, when I heard the word “missed”, my subconscious went nuts.

As I sat there, apologizing for my behavior, the nurse got some cold, damp cloths and put them on my face and neck. That felt great! She also had me lay back on the bed, lowering it until my feet were over my head. That felt even better!

I soon started feeling normal again. Once I did, they sent in a “sharpshooter nurse”, one who never misses a vein. One of the other nurses squeezed my hand for support as the sharpshooter painlessly inserted the IV within seconds. It was no big deal. I was relieved, and still embarrassed.

From there on, the procedure was easy. Never having had anesthesia before, I was a little nervous about that too. But after the IV drama, I just wanted to fall asleep, and wake up with the whole thing over.  

That happened soon enough. It’s amazing what modern medicine can do- even in a routine procedure like mine.

My panic episode was discouraging.  Prior to that, I thought I was on a roll; totally moving beyond my previous needle issues. I had a good run during the fall, completing several medical tasks with no problems. I’d even bragged to my family that my days of “needlephobia” and medical stress were over. I felt very confident that the procedure would go well.

When it went sideways, I felt like a championship sports team who trained well, made it to the big game, choked, and lost.

So why write this column, publicizing my embarrassing issues? 

I’m certainly not expecting sympathy from anyone, especially those who’ve given birth or had a major surgery.  But, I am interested in how people overcome fear and/or dread, no mater what the issue is.  

The human mind is capable of so many things. How can we train it to not be bothered by things that bother us? Share your info thoughts in the comments.

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