The one thing I’m unabashedly honest about is my abominable loathing for needles. Let’s take a stroll through the life of little Laura:
As a kid, I remember – very clearly – being held to the table in a doctor’s office while the doctor and nurses stabbed my thighs with needles. Repeatedly. Either I was getting many vaccinations or they just really sucked at their aim – either way, I was having none of it and they turned it into a torturous experience. So parents – if you’re worried that you’re scarring your children for life with the overwhelmingly horrific experience of being vaccinated – all your fears are confirmed. You most definitely are.
Fast forward to high school. The days of childhood vaccinations were a distant memory and all seemed nearly right with the world. Then, suddenly, it was time for annual sports physicals (finger pricks), a Tetanus booster and Meningitis vacc. After 4 years on various teams, it had become a regular routine for me to attend the group physical sessions where I was undoubtedly the one laying on a bleacher, pale as a ghost, sipping orange juice from a straw and snacking on whatever granola bar the secretaries had handy that day. What was supposed to be a 10-minute process was typically an hour-long ordeal. I would spend the day slothing my way through the rest of my classes as if death was imminent.
It wasn’t until the Tetanus booster that things got really crazy, though. I left my 4th hour geometry class to go get my shot in a makeshift office [read: closet] next door. While anxious, the shot went fast and I was back into my seat within minutes. The bell rang shortly after, then I was standing at my locker talking with friends. I remember tossing my book into the bottom and trying to think of what I needed next. Then I was hot. Then things were fuzzy. I put my head on the cold metal, told my friends I was dizzy and that was that.
Waking up to 6 of your high school teachers in a circle above your face is akin to arrival in the 3rd circle of hell. Fortunately, it was not yet my time. I had passed out and landed on a classmate’s foot – from which she promptly kicked me off (yup, you kicked the head of an unconscious person, Ashton – hope you’re proud). There I was – limp on the hard tile floor – just waiting for ‘code blue’ responders.
At 18, I was the oldest and most traumatized kid in my childhood doctor’s office while awaiting the Meningitis vacc. Mom told me to calm down while I terrified everyone with my bawling. I don’t remember the actual shot – that’s how well that one went.
The beat goes on, as they say.
At 26, I fainted in the middle of the largest conference hall at Garmin International. I was an employee and it was free physical day. I warned the nurse, but she didn’t believe me that a prick could go so horribly wrong (she’d obviously never dated online – ba-dum ching). I woke up again – surrounded by the faces of other employees I’d never met. One had lent his hoodie as a pillow for the rough carpeted flooring. Sitting up, I handed it back to him – heavy with my sweat. Not quite the damsel in distress moment Disney told you about.
Later that morning, I left work early to go home sick. I made it outside just in time to throw up in the bushes next to the parking garage. Then I slipped away while eyeing the lot for witnesses. Pretty sure only my friend Ben could have been even a little aware of the situation – and he was kind enough to never, ever bring it up.
A similar repeat happened with my first IV. I warned the nurses. When they didn’t listen to me, I reached full-blown panic attack and puked all over them and myself, Exorcist-style, while while my mom watched in horror. IV #2 was issued with a significant dose of chillthefuckout which continues to be a saving grace to this day.
All of this considered – the trip to get my travel vaccinations for Nepal went about as well as anyone could expect it to go. Since I can’t be trusted to do these things alone, Aaron agreed to take me for the ride. I had held it together all morning, popped a Xanax and was feeling pretty low key about the whole ordeal. That is, until he walked into the house, an excited Ogilvy whipped his tail into my full coffee and sent it flying across the living room floor. I immediately melted down into a pile of tears – laughing, bawling and mopping coffee with an entire roll of paper towels.
I cried all the way to doctor’s office.
I cried while waiting in the lobby.
I cried while we talked about all the vaccination options.
Then, for the first time ever, the nurse asked me what I needed.
“A wet towel. A cup of water. To lay down. And don’t try to feed me,” I rapid-fire responded.
She. Was. Amazing. I took three shots in a matter of seconds with only a little dizziness. Sure, there are two more to come. And a series of pills. But damn. Damn it all. She was good.
At the end, I got a sweet new yellow shot record – my travel record. This one is a new badge of awesomeness that goes in the passport wallet – solid upgrade from the pink, tattered booklet marked up from the ’80s.
Days later, my shoulders are sore. I’m not looking forward to the follow ups. I finally peeled off the bandaids off and nearly passed out because of the blood dots. But hey, you guys…it’s almost time to go to Everest.