Just Divorce Yourself – Conquering a Secret Fear

I conquered my fear of the dark!

Sort of. A pin on Pinterest stated darkness is merely the absence of light. Sort of how plain rice cakes are the absence of taste. It’s logical or illogical. Science over whatever isn’t science.

Whew, glad I can put that behind me.

When I was a broadcaster with Shaw TV Edmonton, I did a story on my fear of guns. Plus, I admitted other terrors: bees, tornadoes, and underground parkades.

Years earlier, I overcame fears that I didn’t mention: needles and veins.

In 2004, during a routine MRI, the technician accidentally inserted the IV into my muscle. We didn’t know until the saline solution was injected. My bicep tightened – and the muscle expanded. I squeezed the panic button for the first time since 1991, and I saw the tech’s feet at the tunnel.

“Tammy, is everything okay?”

“My arm’s burning!”

The MRI machine made those cool noises as they rescued me. “Let’s take a look.” Silence. “Okay, we’re just going to take this out right now, okay?”

My right arm looked as though I’d been training for the next Rocky movie. My bicep fattened two inches – and it was pulsate-y. From the images taken, the techs decided I didn’t need the contrast, and I went on my Balboa way. Out of 20 or so MRIs, this was the first incident. Human error.

The next time I needed a blood test though? I nearly passed out. I’m the person who watches the needle. I watch as they poke my skin.

So, what happened to the girl who didn’t have an issue seeing a needle slide under her skin?

I developed a fear of needles. There use to be a fancy, schmancy word for the condition – Trypanophobia – but it no longer applies. Take it up with the internet.

For five years, I dreaded blood tests and MRIs. I couldn’t watch CSI autopsy scenes or anything related to veins. Needless to say, reviewing the Clint Malarchuk incident on YouTube didn’t help either. Don’t worry, the link is his Wiki page, not the video. I’m not that mean.

Wisdom floated back to me. A conversation between my high school biology teacher and a classmate. My teacher was running water, and my classmate said, “It’s making me want to go to the bathroom.” The teacher bluntly told him, “Mind over matter, *Farley.¬†Divorce yourself.”

Divorce yourself. Aha! The moment, not the band.

In other words, you’re not connected to what is taking place. Boom. There is was. Take my blood. Stab my veins.

Armed with a requisition – and my new blood test taking mantra – I plunked myself down into needle stabbing chair. I watched them insert the needle. Okay, slight twinge in the stomach, but I was over that hurdle. Then they turned the needle. You know, turning the needle. While it’s under your skin.

You’re having trouble reading this, aren’t you?

Divorce yourself. Divorce yourself. I had bruises from that lovely experience. Even with the mantra, I continued to be icky with veins. So icky, I’d worry pulling the band-aid from needle pokes in case the itsy bitsy hole in my vein reopened.

Then, aha! Another memory. In 1993, when I was being prepped for surgery, a nurse was trying to insert an IV into the top of my hand since both arms were taken. She couldn’t locate a vein, and she said they tend to disappear when you’re cold and/or afraid. Since I was going in for brain surgery, yes, it was the latter.

“Take some deep breaths,” she said. And that’s why I couldn’t move my hand for five days.


Breathing worked though. Perfect timing, because another MRI loomed around the corner.

Normally, I find MRIs relaxing. You just lay there, planning your day or daydreaming as a jackhammer echoes outside. It’s hard to chill though when you’re wondering if your IV’s in your muscle or not.

The MRI technician entered the room and diluted my veins with contrast.

“How are you feeling?” she said as I waited to feel something other than nothing besides a funny taste in my mouth. It’s similar to aluminium foil or a 1980s playground.

“So far, so good,” I said.

The jackhammer continued for another ten or twenty minutes. I tend to run on Aries-time – and I was on magnetic-Aries-tube-time, waiting for something to happen.

But nothing happened.

When they removed the IV, unlike previous years, I could watch – and I wasn’t squeamish.

I realized I divorced myself from my fear. I almost hugged the technician. I skipped into the waiting room with a grin. Hungry grin – they starve you for four hours before MRI’s – but I grinned. Fear, conquered.

Next on the list – bees.
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*Name changed for privacy .

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