Things you never knew about Mrs Metaphor: Trypanophobia

I faint when confronted with needles…neither sewing nor knitting gets me horizontal, mind you…it’s the medical model which brings me out of a state of consciousness. In addition…the talk or sight of blood can inspire this reaction in me as well.

I’ve known this about myself for a long time. I just kept thinking I would grow out of it.

I passed out in church on a regular basis during the Stations of the Cross. For some reason I experienced that event viscerally. Each time I felt woosy I would turn to my neighbor, (usually Cathy Meier as I recall) and announce, “I feel like I’m going to faint” to which the person would undoubably reply, “No, you won’t.” My response being the sound of skull hitting marble flooring. I still like to think of it as some sort of “estatic” religious experience. It helps me to not feel so stupid when I’m in Catholic mass and feeling lightheaded.

Once in high school I was hospitalized for this condition. I fainted in English class…ENGLISH CLASS, people. My teacher, Mr Rotter was school reknown for his lovely way of describing medieval methods of medicine and we were studying the Canterbury Tales by Geoffry Chaucer. Mr Rotter felt it important to go into detail about bloodletting and the four humors just before lunch. He was a gem. I think it was Angie Doran who picked me up off the floor. When I came to they were carrying me to the door of the classroom and the nurse was waiting with a wheelchair. From here I was led to the nurse’s office while I waiting for my mother to pick me up. She took me to the doctor. It was my 16th birthday, I remember it well because my friends came to visit me in the midst of the EEG, EKG and extended Blood Sugar tests that weekend, a REAL treat for someone with my ‘condition’ it turns out.

After all the testing the neurologist told me a few things he knew for sure. I did not have a brain tumor, I had blue eyes and that I pass out at the sight or talk of blood and needles…and that he thought I’d probably grow out of it.

Yet, here it is, 24 years later and I still have this condition. It reared it’s ugly head when I got my “ink” last month. I really thought I could just skirt the issue since the tattoo was on my back and I would not be able to SEE what was happening. I did quite well until the moment when Rodney was putting the stencil on my back….yes, the stencil…which did not even require a needle or blood…oy. Being a “phobia” though, I guess it makes sense that the ins and outs would reach outside the bounds of logic.

I did not end up fainting however…for the first time ever in my life I got a very good piece of advice when I got woozy and sat down to put my head between my knees, my usual repsonse. Rodney told me to sit up, to keep the blood working hard to reach my brain. This was a revelation to me and for the first time when getting the woozy, fainty feeling in response to the needle, I did not faint.

This triggered in me a new desire to figure out JUST what it is that bothers me. Thanks to the internet I NOW know that what I have is called Trypanophobia. It sounds like an angry relative of other phobias doesn’t it?

Trypanophobia

I also discovered that Rodney is a wise man. Whilst other phobias cause an increase in blood pressure, a normal stress response, MY phobia causes the blood pressure to drop to nothing, causing the loss of consciousness. In EXTREME cases, this phobia might actually KILL a person. Yeah, I know, of all the stinkin phobias in the world I have one that could kill a person…yowza.

So the advice to sit up, may have saved my life (ok, that’s probably a stretch…I admit) at the very least it saved my poor aching skull. Live and learn.

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12 thoughts on “Things you never knew about Mrs Metaphor: Trypanophobia

  1. Wow, Mrs! I agree with you about the angry-sounding name given to your phobia. It sounds so much like “tyrano” (saurus-rex).

    My children got the flu vaccine yesterday and when I asked my husband if he wanted to get a flu vaccine too, he turned a shade of green. Kind of the green of your blog, actually. Are the comments on this post going to cause that kind of loss of blood pressure for you? Oh, dear, I hope not. Maybe Rodney cured you?

    Thanks for this great post. I like having the month of November to get to know you better.

  2. Hello, mrsmetaphor. I am simply checking in to let you know I am supporting your success in 30 consecutive days of November blogging. Here I thought trypanophobia was similar to trichtotillomania (compulsive hair pulling), because face it, once we get beyond 5 syllables, the words get tough to remember and they start looking alike. I’m sorry you experience this, but I’m happy that you don’t pull your hair out which is a way to cope with childhood stuff, I think. I hope that Rodney did give you the cure!

  3. Thanks MsBeefs! I’m always glad to see you ’round.

    I think I cope with my children’s childhood stuff by pulling my hair out, does that count as trichtoltillomania? See..here’s the difference I notice….one is a “phobia” and one is a “mania”…different latin roots…

    Think of it this a-way: Beatle-mania or Beatle-phobia….lol

  4. I wonder if my honey do has the same phobia. Of course,
    I tell him, He did not faint, he passed out! lol.

    Seriously, it has to be stressful at times. Good luck to you,
    I hope Rodney has given you a way to cope that will always work
    I shall tell honey do about his suggestion and your success with it.
    See ya tomorrow, love your blog.

  5. You know, Ms Pink…mostly it’s just embarassing…ack. I *think* also, the trick is to raise your BP in the moment…I’m still researching some ways to do that….I’ll let you know what I find out.

  6. Thank you for the warm welcome, mrs. I’m thinking, and perhaps you’ll agree, that “Beatle-mania” was pre-Yoko, and that “Beatle-phobia” developed after she came on the scene? If the right people happen upon this proposal, it could be a lively discussion! lol Yoko was never my cup of tea, but if John loved her, he loved her, so there. The eternal light thing she built to honor him in Rykavek (sp?), Iceland is beautiful. I do wonder where John will be spending eternity as I have recently begun to read more about him. Geez, you think you know a superstar, and then they just go and surprise the heck out of you.

  7. Hi Mrs!

    Working in a doctor’s office I see a lot of fainters and not just from needles either. Some of them you just have to mention the snap of a rubber glove!

    I once worked at a blood donor clinic and had a rather large police officer land on top of when he fainted after giving blood. I told him he should stay put, rest, eat his cookie and then he could go. NOPE he wanted to be the hero, the big man. It is true the bigger they are the harder they fall. He was 6’3″ and huge. Well I saw him go over and went to grab him and I did alright, he landed on top of me and all you could see was my feet and right arm sticking out from underneath him and me screaming like a cat with her tail caught in a screen door.

    I always ask if people are needle phobes and then get em to lay down. Occasionally have had to go hold a hand or two – (more like them sqeezing all the blood out of it and turning it white.)

    I wonder if the squeezing the hand idea might be a good way to take that bp up a notch…maybe biting down on a piece of wood or a bullet…or screaming…
    Mrs M

  8. Oh by the way I have a phobia of earwax. Have no idea what it is called, but it grosses me out to no end – actually to the point of throwing up. Glad I don’t work in a general practitioners office anymore because we used to have syringe ears out all the time. ICK!!!!!!

    Erm…you’d best stay far away from my house. For whatever reason my children have inherited their father’s ability to produce earwax. Yeah, it IS gross…and strangely captivating too.
    Mrs M

  9. DH took the girls to get their flu shots at the pediatrician’s this morning. The younger one went first, she’s 4 1/2, and squawled like a panther. You can imagine how eager my 7-year-old was to get her shot–NOT! At least it’s over and done.

    My ped makes his nurse give the shots now…so now kids can be afraid of nurses instead of doctors. ack.
    Mrs M

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