Yeah, so if ever there was someone unsuited to being a cancer patient, it is me. Those that know me well will understand this.
Just to give you a sense...
When my GP told me he suspected cancer I immediately imagined having chemotherapy via an IV line and I passed out on the spot and hit my head on a table in the surgery. Apparently I was out for 2 minutes and when I woke up there were ambulance folks there. In an abundance of caution they had to take me to emergency, where I sheepishly discharged myself shortly after getting there. Super embarrassing.
This is not my 1st fainting experience. Let me share some illustrative examples.
- I once fainted on top of a very petite little Chinese nurse at a pathology center when I was doing a routine employment screening blood test. She hadn't taken me seriously when I warned her I had a "thing" about giving blood and when she passed me the test tubes of my warm blood to check the details on the labels, I collapsed on her. I woke up with her pinned underneath me. Her mistake !
- Another time I was at a family reunion event and an elderly relative (Gordon Carlin) was regaling me with a very, very, very detailed story about his knee replacement surgery. I nearly passed out and had to sit down and put my head between my legs.
- Another time I went to visit a relative (Michelle Carlin) who had a home dialysis machine. She lived in a walk up apartment in Mount Maunganui and as I got to the top of the stairs I was confronted by my worst nightmare - her blood passing through a web of plastic tubes in the dialysis machine. I passed out right there on the landing. On future visits she would put a blanket over the machine for me.
- Oh, and then there was that time in the Broadway Medical Centre, perhaps my most public display. I gave my usual warning to the male nurse. He chuckled, as if to say, "I'm sure you're not that bad". Silly him. We were having a great chat about something as he went about his work. In my mind I thought, wow Scott, you're doing so well with this. Moment's later I woke up and several people were lifting me onto a bed using a sheet (and sniggering as they did it). Apparently I'd collapsed forward into the doorway that led into the adjoining (very busy) waiting room.
I'm writing this right after getting back from the 1st of what will now be (at least) fortnightly blood tests. You'll be proud of me, there was no fainting, because they let me lie down. Combined with the chemo I've worked out that I can basically expect to have some kind of needle experience once a week for the foreseeable future. Holy shit.
I've been listening to a needle phobia hypnosis track on Audible. I'm a semi convert to hypnosis after I went to a hypnotist that a friend recommended. My friend reckoned this guy had cured their smoking habit. I got him to hypnotize me to go to the gym more (don't laugh - it worked for a while). Reading about NLP techniques in a professional context also helped me be less skeptical about the whole hypnosis thing. And I "loose time" every time I do it...so it must be doing something right ?
You'll laugh at this. I went onto Youtube to find something that might help. I did a search for "overcoming needle phobia" but just looking at some of the thumbnail images in the search results made me feel so dizzy I had to walk away from the computer and put my head between my legs. The Audible search results were so much safer.
I plan to drink lots of water before each test, and I'm going to buy a dumbbell to try and make my arm veins more juicy (not to mention further aiding my impending cancer buffness). My nightmare is when a nurse tells me he / she can't find a vein and proceeds to spend 5 minutes tapping and squeezing my arm.
So, you get the picture. This cancer thing is a challenge for anyone, but for someone with my, ummm, condition, this is going be particularly tricky. I'd welcome any tips.