Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blood, Fainting and my 10 Year Old Self

I've mentioned, I think a couple times now (sorry for the repetition) that part of my goal for this blog is to teach myself to be more comfortable sharing my thoughts about things.  Going along with that, I decided to write a post sharing a part of me that I used to desperately hide.  

I come from a family of fainters.  Let's face it guys, it's true.  Blood and guts just aren't our thing.  I grew up hearing stories of the ER nurse who didn't know if she should help my father with the bloody gash on his head, or my Grandma, who was on the verge of passing out from the sight of the blood.  For all of you who might be interested, our little problem actually does have a name.  It is called a Vasovagal syncope.  It is thought to be genetic.  

Now this is more than just a fear.  When I see blood, I hear a rushing sound in my ears.  My limbs feel weak and I start to shake and feel sick.  If I cannot get myself calmed down I will start to see black spots and then pass out.  I sometimes get this same effect from listening to injuries being described, watching gory movies, or having to undergo medical procedures.  Luckily I can generally stop this from happening.  Generally it depends on how focused I am on the blood.  If I dwell on what I am seeing, or have to listen to a detailed account it is extremely difficult to keep myself from reacting and starting to feel faint.  However, if I can focus on something else, or remove myself from the situation when I start to feel uneasy, I can usually keep myself from actually fainting.  

Now this may not seem like too big of a deal.  Well, it is when you are ten and the boy sitting next to you staples his finger and you wake up staring at the legs of your desk.  It is a big deal when no one in your class has ever seen anyone pass out before.  

In all honesty, I really have to hand it to my fellow fourth graders.  For a bunch of ten year olds, they handled the situation with surprising tact.  There were a few comments, quite a few stares, but in general, the whole situation was dropped pretty quickly.  The poor boy who stapled his finger felt terrible.  He even went out of his way to hide his bandaged finger from me as an apology for showing me the bloody staple so excitedly.  

No, the problem was more inside my own mind.  I was so ashamed of the fact that I was at all different from the others in the class.  I felt like a billboard had announced my biggest weakness for all to see.  I don't know if I knew the word vulnerable back then (although I did know an exorbitant  amount of big words for my age) but that's definitely how I felt.  So, I made up my mind that no one else would ever know.  

With the exception of my best friend, I didn't say a word about my fear.  This went on even to the point of slipping of to the bathroom instead of going to the clinic if I thought I might pass out for fear of attracting attention.  

However, as years went on, it seemed like less and less of a big deal.  I slowly told a few other friends.  Now most of my friends at college know about it.  It is something that is a part of me and I don't feel the need to hide it anymore.   Besides, it is something that they generally need to know to understand why I don't want to watch a marathon of Saw or listen to elaborate stories about how they've broken bones.  And have I been ridiculed?  No.  Have I been tarred and feathered and forced to watch open heart surgery?  No.  And have I lost a single friend because of this? No. Part of not being ten any more means that I am mature enough to realize that everyone has weaknesses and they do not have to be hidden.  

This is what I would consider a final step, as it were.  I used to be afraid to tell anyone, now I am defying that.  In a few minutes I will post this blog and even put a link up on facebook.  I pass out at the sight of blood.  And now, I am ok with people knowing this.

As always, thank you for reading!

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