Worry focuses the mind


bloodI didn’t sleep well. Maybe three or four hours at most. It wasn’t the physical by our new and down-to-earth doctor at the Brooklyn Avenue health clinic that had me worried. It was the blood draw at the clinic’s lab after the physical.

My fears not only are exaggerated. They’re pointless. A blood draw takes only a minute. Maybe less.

But I do have a history that partly explains my anxiety. Over the years, I’ve had nurses or other therapists attempt to find a functioning vein. They’ve poked and poked and complained. A few apologized.

Once, a visiting nurse trying to draw blood wrestled me to the floor at my home to get a blood sample. This test was required for an insurance policy I had applied for.

When we lived in Washington D.C. in 1992 , I would go to Georgetown clinic for tests. The paper had an ad that solicited volunteers. There, the nurses were so skilled at drawing blood I hardly noticed the needle prick.

Today, after the doctor listened to my heart and otherwise checked me out,
I headed for the lab for the blood draw. The first specialist took one look at my arm in search of the phantom vein. Meantime, I mentioned that people often had trouble drawing blood from me.

She excused herself. A couple of minutes later, another person appeared. I think she was the lab’s director. She looked at both of my arms, wrapped a band around my arm and told me to clinch my fist. Hard she said. I scarcely noticed the needle.

What a relief. I relaxed as we headed to Hall’s neighborhood restaurant for an early lunch. I not only was relaxed. I was relieved. I should have gotten the lab director’s name. For my next physical, I’ll be sure to ask for her.

People will tell you not to worry. I’m reasonably sure that the same people who offer that advice worry about something, maybe a number of somethings.

What makes the more sense to me is to take action when you’re faced with something that causes anxiety. Often you can distract yourself from worry by getting busy at housework or some little job you’ve been putting off.

If it’s a parent, son or daughter you’re worried about, just give that person a call and ask how he or she is doing. Even if you’re still apt to worry about that person, you will know it’s based on reality and not your imagination.

As I discovered to my great relief today, sometimes a person’s worry is based on a lack of knowledge. In my case, I didn’t know I’d get lucky and have the head of the department draw blood.

But the experience reminded me that worry often is not based on reality. “Give to the winds thy fears,” the Bible says. I’ve always liked that advice. I’ll keep it in mind before my next physical.

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