Overcoming Nerves To Face The Needle

Megan Percy overcomes her fear of needles to give blood to those in need


Gracie Kruep

Megan Percy gives blood at StuCo’s annual blood drive. Though initially terrified to d this, she powered through and conquered her fears to help others.

“Will it hurt a lot?”

“Will I feel weird after?” 

“How long will it take?” 

I sat in AP Lit, asking these same panicked questions repeatedly, as my peers effortlessly entered their names into a spreadsheet for a time slot to give blood. My friends and teacher answered my questions, understanding of my fear, but slightly exhausted with it. Even after I hesitantly put my name under the 8:20 slot, I still asked question after question, as if more knowledge on the subject would stifle the sharp ache of the needle when the time came. Eventually, after almost an hour of stressing over the mere thought of something that was, at that point in time, over a week away, I was asked the question, “If you are that scared of needles and blood, why bother even trying to give blood?” 

My answer has two parts. 

For starters, up until that point, I had never had blood drawn. I’d actually never had a needle stuck anywhere other than my bicep. I figured, someday, it’ll probably happen under some other medical circumstances, and I didn’t want to be scared on the day that happened. I figured this would be a good warm-up, to prepare me for later in life, say if I had to face some sort of surgery. Knowing what it felt like to have a pointy object shoved into my veins for a prolonged period of time would be one less unknown I would have to face when going under the hypothetical knife. 

The second reason was simpler; I wanted to do something kind. 

It’s no secret the holiday season tends to inspire acts of goodness in people. As many as 3 lives, I was told repeatedly, could be saved by just one bag of my blood. Three babies, children, old people, or teenagers my own age could be helped by 10-15 minutes of my pain.

For two weeks after I signed up, it lingered in the back of my brain, until the night before. I tried to put myself to sleep at a proper time to get eight hours, but I found myself incapable of drifting off. I was terrified, yet anticipatory; scared, yet curious. 

I woke the next day and went about my day normally until it was time. I walked down to the small gym, signed in, and did all of my required physical tests. Then it was time. 

I walked over to a chair that looked suspiciously like it belonged in a dentist’s office. My designated hand holder came over, and I started squeezing her hand like it would lessen the pain somehow. They took my blood pressure; they swabbed my arm and gave me a squishy ball to squeeze to increase my blood flow. 

“Look away,” the nurse said. I refused. I preferred to see the needle enter my arm, to know what was happening as it happened. The more I knew about what was happening, the less difficult I felt this would be. 

She held the needle; I gave one final squeeze on my squishy ball and my hand holder’s hand. Then she slid the syringe into my arm. 

I’m not gonna lie; for the first couple of minutes it stung. But I almost laughed at how little it hurt compared to what I had imagined. The pain was not excruciating, just slightly irritating. I remember seeing the blood flow through the tubes that lay across parts of my arm; I remember being surprised at how dark it was, and how warm it felt against my skin as it surged through to a bag beside my chair. 

Ultimately, I had stressed and worried and gone sleepless over something that I know now really wasn’t that big of a deal. It scared me so much and took a lot for me to go and do, but if I never had, I never would have known how easy it really was. I guess that’s the lesson to take from this; you should face your fears, if for nothing else but to find out that it’s not so awful after all. 

How do you feel about giving blood?

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