I hate to admit this, but I get squeamish at the sight of blood. While this happens to a lot of people, it is particularly embarrassing when one is in the healthcare profession. Thankfully, I overcame this phobia early in my journey towards becoming a veterinarian, after becoming weak-kneed during my first exposure to surgery. At least I overcame it with animals—human blood still freaks me out. I don’t really know why, as all blood looks the same. It doesn’t even have to be my personal blood. The sight of other people’s blood can make me just as light-headed.
I remember my older son falling out of a tree and splitting his chin open when he was about five. I took one look at it and said, “Go tell your father, I’ve got to lie down.” I barely made it inside the house.
I’ve learned the hard way not to try to tough these things out. Once in college, I had blood drawn for something or other. As I waited at the check out desk to pay my bill, the “feeling” came over me. First I became extremely hot, then I got tingly all over and my stomach seemed to sink to my knees. At this point I knew I had to get out of there fast, but the blasted woman behind the desk was in no hurry. Plus there was no place to sit. “Maybe I can hang on just another minute,” I tried to convince myself, as my vision started to blur, a rushing noise in my ears blocked out all sound, and finally everything went black. It’s quite weird, actually, as I was still standing and carrying on a conversation with the woman, even though I literally couldn’t see or hear. The next thing I knew I was waking up on the floor.
I wish I could say that was the only time I’ve passed out at the sight of blood, but unfortunately, there have been more times than I care to think about. For some inexplicable reason, I view it as a character flaw, so I try to fake my way through, until I can escape somewhere to sit—preferably on the floor, as I’m likely to end up there anyway.
Not only do I faint at the sight of blood, I can faint at the thought of blood. If I’m reading a book which details a gory scene, I literally have to stop reading. Once I was in a movie theater watching the first in the series of the Twilight sagas (which, by the way, is the only one I managed to sit through), when there was a scene with a lot of blood. I suppose that was to be expected as the Twilight stories are about vampires and werewolves. I could feel myself fading fast, so I made up the excuse I had to go to the ladies’ room right that second. My wobbly legs carried me down the steps as I clung to the handrail for dear life. But I only made it to the hallway which led to the exit door before everything went black. I don’t know how long I was out, but I woke up on the floor, feeling rather embarrassed. Thankfully, no one saw me—at least I don’t think any one saw me. Maybe they did and just stepped over my unconscious body.
There is a medical term for this condition—vasovagal syncope. It occurs when your body overreacts to certain triggers, such as the sight of blood. This causes your heart rate and blood pressure to drop suddenly. On one hand, it makes me feel better that there is a bonafide medical name for my problem. On the other hand I don’t much care for having a body that overreacts. I don’t overreact. I am generally a calm and level headed person when everyone around me is going to pieces. How dare my body do so? It’s just a bunch of bloody nonsense.