Blood tests and beating fear

Kathy Krugeradoption, change, fear, IVF31 Comments

Are you sitting down? Good.

So maybe you hate getting blood tests. Maybe you’re getting all squeamish just thinking about it. Perhaps the thought of a needle makes you faint. Sorry for reminding you. Perhaps you’d better skip to the bottom of the post.

A casual conversation reminded me about blood tests. In fact two separate conversations in the space of a week raised the topic of having blood taken. Spooky, or scary or something.

One conversation was with a couple of my yoga students, one of whom happens to be a phlebotomist (that’s someone who takes blood for a living – a kind of pathologist not a Dracula). The other was with a lady at work who I don’t know (she’s in a different section, in a big organisation) who happened to have a big bruise on the inside of her elbow from a blood test gone a bit (or a lot) wrong.

Ok universe, I’m listening.

The thing is, I have lots of bad memories of blood tests, not to mention needles (does anyone really have good memories of blood tests or needles?)

There were a couple of ‘good’ blood tests that confirmed I was pregnant (finally, after IVF) until it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy and I lost the baby and my right tube.

So you go through the pain/discomfort of a blood test and then the result (or the end result) knocks you for six. You can understand my dread.

In the course of 9 IVF cycles I had to get stabbed in the thighs (alternating legs to dodge bruises) well over 100 times. I could never bring myself to stab myself (wuss) so most mornings during a cycle I would literally wake up to a jab from my husband before he headed to work at 5.30am! (Sadly not that other kind of jab).

Then there were the dramatically-named ‘trigger’ injections that had to be exactly timed, which necessitated blood tests, sometimes twice a day. On weekends, when the IVF clinic was closed, you’d have to turn up at A&E and wait your turn with the emergencies to have blood taken so they could pinpoint to within a few hours the timing of ovulation and then bammo! (Well not that kind of bammo and whammo).

There were plenty more routine blood tests during an IVF cycle to determine hormone levels and the most dreaded of all, the blood tests to see if you’d fallen pregnant. Countless negatives will leave you with a fear/loathing of blood tests.

I have the scar tissue in my arm veins to prove it.

And then when we adopted Miss Yin, just when I thought my loathing of blood tests couldn’t get any worse, I had to watch on as the Chinese doctor drew blood from our new baby daughter’s neck! Yep, they held the babies down and apparently it’s the easiest vein to find, but yikes, I almost felt like fainting and certainly screaming ‘STOP’ to the doctor.

(This scary episode was topped in the frightening stakes by our infant son having an x-ray in another Chinese hospital after his bowel started to twist. The room looked more like a morgue than a treatment theatre and as hubby held his tiny hand – they wouldn’t let me in the room because of the radiation – I had to wait outside in a decidedly unhygienic and cold corridor, with rubbish strewn all over and puddles of urine on the floor from the toddlers who wore split-pants instead of nappies while I listened to the chilling sound of our son’s screams).

Right, on a more positive note and the point of this post really, I’ve decided that one thing I’m going to do in 2016 is face my fear of blood tests and donate blood.

One donation can save three lives

Yep – you guys can hold me accountable – I’ll post the proof.

One third of blood donations help treat people with cancer

And rather than have one word to follow, or specific resolutions, I present a list of things I’m going to do (and that you might consider doing) this year – yikes is it already February!?!

Things to do in 2016:

1)   Conquer a fear (at least one) – when we conquer fear we raise the vibration of love. Actually love conquers fear.

2)   Try something new – this may also achieve a conquering of a fear, but try to tick off something additional off your list

3)   Forgive something or someone from the past – if you have any niggling grudges or regrets, let at least one go. You might get on a roll and find yourself forgiving everything and everyone from your past and keeping up a compassionate practice in the present. The someone can definitely be you.

4)   Write yourself a letter – you can write to the ‘young’ you (and pass down your wisdom), to your future self (and envision your dreams), or yourself right now for a pep talk. Make it mushy if you like, full of love, reassurance and understanding – exactly as you would write to a friend. Point!

5)   Send yourself an inspirational/motivational tweet or text – keep it under 140 characters of course. Your own words – a kick up the bum, a mini cheer-squad, a promise or even a gentle threat. Let your tweet surmise how you want to see yourself grow in 2016, how you want to change, where you want to be.

6)   Randomly pick a date this year (one in the future) – don’t make it a birthday or any other kind of milestone just close your eyes and visualise a date. Now diarise a review of how you are going. If it’s relatively early in the year, then you may want to pick a second date after you’ve done your check-in. The thing about the random nature of date-picking is that it is not linked to a particular goal or timeframe (although the universe works in random and mysterious ways). It’s about letting go of attachment to outcomes and just checking in on yourself ie how you are, not how much have you achieved.

7)   Make a new friend – be open to new relationships and let them take you where you want to go.

8)  Rekindle an old friendship – or at least try. Friendships are two-way streets.

Oh and give blood, if you can. Red Cross and sick and injured patients will thank you. Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT and Grace for FYBF. What’s the biggest fear you’re going to face this year? You can do it!

Namaste sign off_edited-1

Cheers, Kathy X.



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Kathy KrugerBlood tests and beating fear

31 Comments on “Blood tests and beating fear”

  1. Emily

    Good for you. I’m in awe of those who give blood, especially anyone afraid of needles. One of my dearest friends goes as often as she’s allowed to, and faints every time. I’m not able to give blood, but have no fear of needles. Good thing too, because I get blood tests done every month! #teamIBOT

    1. Kathy Kruger

      She’s a brave friend putting up with the fainting and you are stoic with your monthly tests. I really don’t think I’m scared of needles, per se, it is just the memories that come back.

  2. always josefa (@always_josefa)

    Love 3 and 6! Oh and love giving blood too 🙂 Back In Malta (where I am from the blood bank routinely puts call outs for blood on….Facebook! Yep – they put up a post, everyone shares it, and they get lots of people come in – I guess that is one of the advantages of a little island community xx

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Good on you for giving blood – and loving it. I can imagine when you from a small place it is that strong sense of connection that it could be someone you really do know that benefits from the blood.

  3. Min@WriteoftheMiddle

    I did IVF too Kathy – long story resulting in my twin boys – so I hear you! My daughter was conceived naturally. I am not afraid of blood tests – I’ve had so many. My right arm has the good vein so it’s always taken from that one. I close my eyes and don’t look though coz I hate the sight of needles. I can’t donate blood though. They don’t want it. I’m immunoglobulin A deficient – not great apparently. Otherwise I’d be donating for sure.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      It is a long struggle the IVF and even when it is a long way in the past and you’ve been lucky to have children, the emotion can still feel fresh at times (especially giving blood). I hope you can sort your health issues out Min. X

  4. hugzillablog

    Aaaah yes, fellow IVFer here so I was nodding along to much of this. I was pretty blase about it but jeez I had some awful blood tests where I was totally butchered. You try and tell people about all the different types of needles and when I tell them about the needles being repeatedly jabbed in my ovaries (and that I could feel it, despite the twilight) you see people go visibly pale.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      There was a nurse who we christened Nurse Dracula (not very imaginative but apt) – she was definitely a butcher. You’re right, if you don’t go through IVF you can’t really understand the different needles, drugs and otherwise intimidating procedures that leave you with very little dignity it seems. There are so many of us IVFers though, so it is good to have that solidarity.

  5. EssentiallyJess

    I give blood regularly — my sixth donation is next week. I’ve never had an issue with needles, even though my body doesn’t like to give blood away freely, but this is still quite easy. Good on you for conquering the fear. Knowing you are helping others makes things so much easier.

  6. mummywifeme

    Good on you, Kathy. I’ve never given blood, but I know I should. I love your idea about randomly picking a date. Meanwhile, that sounds absolutely horrific with Miss Yin having blood taken from her neck. Oh my God. As for the Chinese hospital, sounds like a terrifying experience. I’ve had my fair share of needles too and to be honest I’m a bit of a weirdo and like them. I gave myself all of the IVF injections like a pro. Dave simply couldn’t because the sight of needles makes him queasy, although I did need his help with those stressful trigger injections. I accidentally smashed so many of those little glass vials. Talk about stressful.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      You’re a brave one doing your own needles – sounds like you didn’t have much of a choice. I don’t know you handled the stress and held the needle steady. I guess we all get use to situations that feel out of control – definitely felt like that in the Chinese hospitals, but all good in the end.

  7. Tegan Churchill

    Gosh those experiences in the first part of your post are heartbreaking. It’s so hard to see our kids hurting and not being able to take it away. I hate blood tests and needles. My veins like to go into hiding when I have a blood test and so whoever is taking the blood usually has to go digging. I normally have bruises up both arms and on the backs of my hands. The last time I needed blood taken they had to do it through a vein in my foot! I would love to give blood but I don’t think they’d be too impressed with how difficult it would be to get a vein.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I’ve heard of people having blood out of the foot – the veins are pretty close to the skin I guess. It sounds like giving blood is traumatic for you (and probably not great for the nurse trying to get the blood out either). There are plenty of other ways to help without putting yourself through that!

  8. Denise Mooney

    Oh no wonder you dread blood tests Kathy, you’ve been through the mill with it. I’m not a fan myself but I’m ok as long as I don’t look! I love that random date picking exercise and I’ve been big into forgiveness this year – both myself and others. Lovely post. Good luck with the blood donation x

  9. Vanessa

    I am thankfully not sensitive to needles but I don’t qualify to give blood, sadly, otherwise I would donate! I know many people can’t because of a fear of needles so I wish I could help on some scale to make up for that. But I lived in the UK during mad cow so I’m ineligible. However, just because I am ok with needles – doesn’t mean the blood comes out of me! I have the most challenging veins. It usually take multiple tries and the vampires (as I so adult-like call them) are only allowed a limited number of tries these days. So sometimes I have to drive around to different clinics as people use up their tries on my arm…I like being a challenge! Just not when they blame it on me with the whole “you didn’t have enough water” …nothing at all makes a difference!

  10. Tonia Zemek

    Oh Kathy, I’m a bit lost for words. All those jabs (for you and your son and daughter) — ouch! I, somehow, have very hard-to-find veins so it can be a bit like drawing blood from a stone as they search around to find a suitable one. Fortunately, though, it has never been too painful. xx

  11. Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)

    The blood bank told me decades ago not to bother coming any more because they could never draw out enough blood. The last blood test I had, the nurse could barely get enough to test and she had to ring the lab to find out if it was going to be enough. I must be an alien mutant or something. Sorry to read about all you went through. An inspiring post Kathy x

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Sounds like a real pain for you Michelle. And thanks for your lovely comment – it is a bit of ancient history the whole IVF thing but it is amazing how things can make it feel fresh and raw again.

  12. Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    You’ve reminded me to check if I can give blood now. I’ve had a few issues over the years being iron deficient and having coeliac disease (so I wasn’t allowed to donate) but I’ve been stable for some time now so I better check my eligibility again. Good on you for challenging yourself this year x

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Kirsty – it is about time for me (I don’t really know why I’ve put it off so long). I know plenty of people who get sick have bad experiences with blood tests – I think there is still an emotional hangover for me from our IVF days that I just need to put in the past.

  13. Denyse Whelan

    What a helpful if frank, you have been through some tough times. My recent visit to the blood bank yielded nothing. Yep. Nor would they try more than once. I was sooooo annoyed when i wanted them to try some more and they said it was against policy that I won’t return. My right arm is better for blood than the left and most people ‘believe me’ when I need to get blood taken. Some who don’t wonder why they can’t get the needle in..why oh why can’t experts listen to the owner of the body! Denyse

  14. Trish MLDB

    The thing I miss post before cancer is donating blood and plasma.
    I did the whole IVF thing and the phlebotomist loved me.

    Thank you for your post encouraging others and workign towards donating too.

  15. Grace

    Oh, Kathy. 9 rounds of IVF…you are a woman of such strength and power. I’ve given blood a few times. The first time I did, I almost passed out. Thanks for the reminder I need to go back and do it again (not pass out, of course). Love your list for 2016. I might steal it 🙂 x

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