There are two kinds of people in the world: grown-ups and fraidy-cats who are scared of needles. I’m in that second group.
Something happened yesterday that “outed” me with the kids, so now they know that their mother — who they always assumed was a bona fide grown-up — is actually a big ol’ fraidy cat.
Our insurance program sent us a couple of “biometric test kits” in the mail, requiring Tom and me to fill out a health questionnaire and submit a blood sample. The kit came with a little needle with which to perform the finger prick and a card that required three drops of blood.
Trust me when I say that I realize a finger prick is no big deal. I had three kids, so I’ve seen my fair share of needles. When I was in the midst of active childbirth, I practically begged the anesthesiologist to bring the biggest needle he could find and stick it in my spine — anything that might dull the pain of contractions.
In those situations, however, I was focused on the goal of delivering a baby into the world. A needle seemed like a small price to pay for such a lofty mission. But a biometric test kit for a nosy insurance program? That offered no motivation whatsoever.
But I’m married to a grown-up who insisted we complete the test and send it back. After a nine-hour fasting period, he dutifully stabbed his finger and bled all over the test card before sealing it up in the return envelope. Then he looked at me and said, “Do you want to prick your own finger or do you want me to do it for you?”
“Neither?” I said.
“That wasn’t one of the options,” he said in that annoying, grown-up tone of voice.
Insisting I wasn’t ready yet, I hid out in our bedroom trying to talk my inner fraidy-cat into acting like a grown-up long enough to face the needle. I knew I couldn’t bring myself to stab my own finger, which meant I’d have to let him do it. It’s one thing to let a trained medical professional stick you with a needle, and it’s another thing to let someone stick you who has roughly the same medical expertise as an untrained Labradoodle.
Fortunately, my mother came over about that time, and she offered to be the finger-pricker, because she’s diabetic and has experience with such things. I reluctantly extended my hand and turned my head away from the carnage.
Admittedly, the finger prick didn’t hurt much. Had it ended with the needle stick, I would’ve been fine. But my finger wouldn’t bleed enough to get three big drops onto the test card, so Tom and my mother started squeezing the blood out of my hand, insisting they just needed one more drop.
All that squeezing and talking about blood started to make me feel woozy. Suddenly the back of my neck got hot, and my stomach started a queasy somersault. Kate appeared at my side, holding my other hand and reassuring me I’d be OK. Her older brother also came to my aid, worried about how pale I looked.
Finally, after they literally squeezed the lifeblood out of me, the tormenters released me, and I slid down to a more comfortable horizontal position on the floor where I continued to bleed. Tom fetched me a Band-Aid while the kids fanned me with the newspaper. It was not my finest moment.
Of course, all the grown-ups out there will roll their eyes and scoff at my silliness. But my fellow fraidy-cats? They understand.
Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. This column originally published in 2014. Her book is available on Amazon. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.