Blood tests are part of a physician’s routine to make sure that you’re healthy. Also, many testing centers are set up specifically to screen for any trouble before it becomes a bigger issue. At these locations, you simply visit a doctor on staff to receive an order for your desired test, then get the results sent right to your doorstep.
However, if you struggle with hemophobia, or the fear of blood, even the thought of having your blood drawn could make your palms get sweaty, and cause your imagination to run wild. Here are some tips to help you stay calm when you’re getting your blood drawn.
1. Know What You’re Being Tested For
If you know that you feel nervous about getting blood drawn, discuss the idea in advance, and ask what the test will screen for. Once you’re more aware of the benefits of receiving the test, you can start to move beyond any irrational fears.
2. Consider Doing It on A Different Day Than a Physical
Tell your doctor immediately if you don’t want to schedule blood work on the same day as a physical. If your fear of blood is very severe, it can lead to low blood pressure, and even fainting spells, so it’s understandable that you might need some time to prepare for it.
3. Make An Early Appointment
Try to plan your blood work on a day where it can be your main responsibility, and make an early appointment. By getting it done in the morning, you’ll put it behind you without letting your fear ruin the rest of the day.
4. Emphasize Small Talk
When it’s time to go through with your blood test, keeping up a conversation with the technician or nurse can make a difference. Even if you’re just talking about something as basic as the weather, the conversation diverts your mind from dwelling on what’s ahead.
5. Regulate Your Breathing
It’s a simple technique, but one that can help your body stay relaxed even while you’re being bombarded with emotions that make you want to tense up. Ask to be given a verbal cue when the needle is about to go in, as well (or just let them surprise you completely to avoid tensing up).
While everything is being prepared, resist the curiosity to look at all the tools. This will only give your mind the chance to concoct all sorts of scenarios that are probably not based in reality.
6. Don’t Look At The Needle
That sight can cause even people who aren’t normally afraid of blood to become squeamish. Fixing your gaze on a blank area of the wall is preferable to watching what’s going on, and should help you stay level headed.
7. Get the Most Bang For Your Buck
The field of phlebotomy has come a long way. In the past, technicians might have to draw blood on several different occasions, and not be able to give you results until several weeks later. Now, things are different.
Nature Communications is a journal which recently introduced a new device called a V-Chip. Once it becomes widely used, it’ll perform routine tests in a nearly hassle-free way. It’s able to do up to 50 tests at once, and only requires a single drop of blood as a sample, rather than a whole vial. In the near future, you might be able to opt for using the V-Chip instead of going through the traditional laboratory process.
All phobias require you to engage in a mental battle. However, by taking a few small steps to control your fears, you can get the upper hand, and give yourself the chance to become aware of health issues, too.
2 suggestions, that may sound silly, but, based on experience with my ex-wife, and time as as a hospital tech, may be helpful.
1) If you know you have “difficult to hit” veins, TELL THEM! If you know that your veins collapse easily with an “adult” size Vacutainers, TELL THEM! They won’t go on as painful a “fishing trip” if they have that info up front.
2) No matter how much you love and trust your primary physician, do not ever say “I want you to do it”. The phlebotomist/nurse/ lab tech has probably done the procedure more times in the last month than the MD has done in his/her whole career. It’s all about practice.