I visited my local VA care center early morning for routine lab tests. I found, as I entered the building, hundreds of stern looking faces staring ahead at the TV, some with a blank faces, flushed out of emotions, others looking around with a look of despair in their faces. Not a soul greeted or smiled at me as I was walking to the lab. It didn’t surprise me at all as I have been here and done this before. People come here to receive only one thing, treatment for their pain. It is not expected to see people grinning and upbeat as they are in pain and need to see their doctors right away to get treatment. I usually come in quietly and leave the same way, in and out. This time though, I was on a different state of mind; this time I was more aware of my surroundings than before. Walking head up, shoulders straight, I decided to greet people and smile at them instead. I decided to take the lead and was NOT surprised at all when people answered my greetings and some with a smile in their faces. People just seem to forgot to smile and greet other people today; everybody has one of those days, including the staff from time to time, right?. I just decided to be the one to say “Good morning” first with a smile in my face. Another daily lesson for me that had I not be in the right attitude to see it, I would have missed it for sure. Food for thought, I declared.
As I hear my name called in to go to the lab, my hands started to sweat. I hate needles! I walked in and sat on the chair to get my blood drawn. The whole environment makes me feel anxious and all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there as fast as I could. This time, I didn’t tell the technician that I was bit squeamish of needles so he would be gentle with me. I thought about my belief on that notion, focusing on deeper emotions inside me about needles and why telling one person how scared I am of needles is going to help me. I always remember being scared of needles since I was a child and specially remember an occasion in my childhood where I was being strapped down to the operation table while I was getting my head stitched. It was pretty traumatic to me; I was crying, not able to move and I had lots of people around me holding me down and stitching my head. Kind of dramatic isn’t it? And I now see how that might have affected me for so many years after. I felt the emotions vividly, my heart rate went up and I started to sweat. I came to think why I was strapped down to the table on that occasion. Being such an active boy, I was never still always moving and the doctors wanted me to be still so they can do their work. I understood and accepted that and forgive myself for what have happened. It was not my fault after all and I knew I had to do something about being scared of needles. I had to move on for good.
The technician came in, greeted me, pulled my arm and I sighed. I quickly scanned the walls, looking for a picture frame with a beautiful landscape to calm myself, but all I saw picture of a windmill framed on the wall. That would have to do! Took a deep, relaxing breath and as I felt the needle piercing my skin, I relaxed. That was it! In no time I was out of there and feeling pretty happy about myself.