Get a Grip

Confession time: I'm one of those squeamish people who can't handle most medical details firsthand without a) feeling faint, b) fainting, or c) finding reasons not to go to the doctor.

When I think it started:

I was in high school when one day I noticed a small, purple vein on the inside of my calf. It was like a tiny little wishbone. I immediately diagnosed myself with having varicose veins, and, after convincing myself that my life was ending, had my reluctant mother drive me to the family practitioner for treatment.

"That's not a varicose vein, that's just a vein," my doctor said after about 0.004 seconds of careful inspection (she happened to be a 300-lb woman who wore ruffly dresses and a rather ill-fitting pageboy wig, which in no way took away from her medical expertise but always made office visits feel like I was backstage at a Hairspray musical).

"Oh," I replied. "Then what's a varicose vein?"

She started to tell me, and I fainted. Varicose veins are no joke, people. Something about lots of blood flow and not enough vein space and... good night.

Similar results have occured on separate occasions with subject matter including, but not limited to, the following:

  • carpal tunnel
  • strained vertebrae
  • eyeball muscles
  • the cervix

So you can imagine my reaction earlier this week when my new doctor asked me to get blood drawn so he could check my cholesterol levels and rule out anemia (even though I basically live on beans and take daily iron supplements, doctors are always suspicious of us non-meat eaters). I mean, talking about vericose veins is one thing, but DRAWING ACTUAL BLOOD FROM THE INNER CREASE OF MY ARM is something else entirely.

"Um, the blood thing, I'm kind of afraid of that, like really," I say.

"So you've never given blood?" he asks incredulously. God I hate this guy.

"No, but I swear I want to, I've just got this problem, this fear," I explain. I know I'm not explaining very well. I sound stupid. But I'm getting light-headed just thinking about the concept of a blood lab. There's a blood lab somewhere in the same building I'm in. All those vials. All those cotton balls. The click-clicking of utensils on formica. No, no, no.

"Well, that's silly, but ok," he says, shaking his head and looking at me with a million vials worth of pity. "Here's a prescription for one Xanax. Take it half an hour before you go to the lab. You'll be fine."

"I don't have to worry about operating machinery or anything?" I ask. "I'll have to drive and stuff."

"Nope, totally fine. You'll just be calm," he assures me. It's the best thing I've ever heard, ever. To be totally fine, but just more calm? Is this what Xanax does for people? I almost can't wait to get my blood drawn, just to try this miracle pill. And then add crushed up Xanax to my morning smoothies every morning for the rest of eternity.