A little more than four years ago I sat in a chair at Florida Hospital in an absolute panic. My heart was racing, I’m pretty sure all the color had drained out of my face, and I probably would have broken some fingers in Hannah’s hand if I’d tried to hold it at that point. All because of a small piece of metal a little over an inch long. That was going to be shoved into my arm by some so-called medical professional. On purpose.
Yesterday, I blithely chatted away with the nurse at our health center at work while she stuck another piece of metal in my arm. I didn’t so much as blink. In fact, I was boasting about how I’d remembered to shave that part of my arm that morning so that there’d be no body hair for the band-aid to stick to. I actually watched her insert the needle, watched the vial fill up with my blood, and it was just another Tuesday morning.
I’d like to say this was due to a strengthening of my fortitude, a development of a steely resolve that leaves me immune to such things. But it’s really because of sheer repetitiveness. I’ve had to get this done every six months for the last four years. I’ve simply gotten used to the feeling of getting stuck with a needle in my arm. What used to send shivers down my spine is at worst a minor inconvenience. I even had to deal with a session where they couldn’t find a good vein and stuck me three different times. Okay, that was a little annoying, but four-years-ago-me would have probably just gotten up and left after the first try.
Yeah, I know, it’s just little needle. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Geez, suck it up, man.” And I suppose my mind got myself freaked out to an extremely disproportionate degree. I was just struck at how we can build something up in our heads as the worst thing possible, dread it to the point of panic, only to have it become almost trivial through repeated exposure. And how this little hurt, reduced to almost nothing, was perhaps an apt metaphor for the bigger hurts I’ve endured the past few years. Wounds that felt like they would kill me became dull aches that flared up every so often, and then … well, not nothing, but something I could live with. Something I wouldn’t dwell on and allow to get me all worked up. Nothing more than the occasional poke in the arm. Pain that affected me, yes, but that I won’t allow to define me.
Six months from now I’ll sit back down in that chair again and feel that little jab one more time. Just another stick, faced without fear. Not that I’m ready for a tattoo or a piercing or anything. I’ve still got plenty of wimp in me to keep those off the table.