Random Blog A Musing Farf

Friday, November 02, 2007

FACING FEARS

There is an old joke about people’s number one fear being public speaking and their number two fear being death. The joke goes something like this: At a funeral, more people would rather be the person in the casket than the person giving the eulogy. I am definitely more scared of death than I am of public speaking (Hello? I am a litigator! My entire job involves public speaking).

My comfort with public speaking can actually be traced to one particular moment in third grade. I was new in school and our class was putting on The Wizard of Oz for the entire school. I was cast as the Wicked Witch of the West. At the time, I thought it was because I was a wonderful actress, but I have since figured out that it is the only part in the entire show without any signing, and despite the accolades I give myself while signing in the shower, it turns out that the general public does not share my appreciation of my own voice. Anyway, I was terrified to say my lines loudly and went through rehearsals in barely a whisper. It was so bad that the teacher actually spoke to my parents about it. So, my Dad (who is also a litigator and one of the best public speakers I have ever heard) took me to a park and had me stand on a tree stump. He hid behind a bush where I could not see him and fed me my lines.

I had to yell all my lines in order for him to hear me. I was totally embarrassed and confessed my fear of public speaking to my father. His response was simply to remind me that if someone walked by and saw me, all they saw was a cute 8-year old reciting lines from a play. If someone walked by and saw him, they saw a 30-something man yelling lines from a children’s play and really, which one of us should be embarrassed? I took it to heart and went on to be a smashing success in the Wizard of Oz and never had a problem speaking in public again.

Unfortunately, while I never developed a real phobia of speaking in public, I did develop another debilitating phobia. I am terrified of needles. Sure, I know what you are thinking – no one likes needles. Nope this goes beyond that. I am more scared of needles that I am of dying. Don’t believe me? Let me tell you a little story…

In early 2002 or thereabouts, I was walking down Columbus Avenue in Manhattan when suddenly everything went black. I woke up a second later on the ground surrounded by strangers. Humiliated, I assured everyone I was fine and went on my merry way. A few days later it happened again. And then again a few days later. This time, I was worried and contacted the very cute and very capable Dr. Kendler, who immediately performed an EKG and, when he did not like the results of the EKG, sent me to a local hospital for tests.

The test involved running on a treadmill to see if I would faint. I readily agreed until the doctor at the hospital explained that I needed to have an IV in my arm for him to perform the test. Apparently, if/when I fainted, the medical staff needed the ability to quickly administer medication. I refused the IV, explaining that if I had an IV, I would faint anyway and be unable to run on the treadmill. The doctor was insistent but so was I. No IV. Finally, the doctor looked at me and used what I believe had been his ultimate manipulation tool, “You could die without this test,” he said. “If there is a problem with your heart and we don’t fix it, you may not live.”

I listened to the doctor. I really do not want to die anytime in the near future. But, I also did not want to have an IV. Plus, the doctor said I could die and that I may not live. He did not know the ultimate outcome. On the other hand, if I took the test, I would definitely have an IV. I rejected the test, the doctor yelled at me, and 5+ years later, I am perfectly healthy and have not had any fainting spells.

So I think it is clear that on my list of fears, needles rank higher than death.

Which leads me to day. I needed a flu shot. I have never previously had a flu shot (see fear of needles, above) and always preferred to risk getting the flu (which I only may get) to the definite outcome of a needle. But, my doctor was adamant that given my medical history and the seriousness of the strain that is expected to hit this year, I get a flu shot. He would not even argue with me about it (although, I have to say, if you are a doctor and feel I need a shot, it is best not to give me an alternative). I was terrified and walked into the office today knowing full well what was coming. And so I called Husband.

And, if I ever complained about Husband, I take it all back now. He came with me to the doctor, held my hand during the flu shot and even distracted me with logistical questions about this evening’s plans. And, even though Husband is squeamish about doctor’s offices, he did not show it.

Maybe a few more of these sessions at the doctors and my fear of needles will go the way of my old fear of public speaking. I certainly hope so.

3 comments:

new mom said...

Congratulations on getting stuck with a needle and my son! You are very brave and I love you!!!!!!

jg said...

On your list of fears, needles rank higher than POSSIBLE death, not CERTAIN death. There's a difference. :) If the doctor had a gun to your head and was proven crazy enough to shoot you... you'd've taken the IV.

oh, and, flu shots are like bordatella vaccinations... stupid (IMPO)

:)

Suzanne said...

That was very sweet of your hubby to go with you.