I Don’t Do Blood

Posted by on Oct 19, 2012 in Stories

I love science, and I’ve always thought that I might have become a pretty good doctor, except for one thing: the sight of blood immediately makes me nauseous and faint.

As a pre-teen on a cruise with my grandfather, he tripped on a broken pipe that was sticking out of the dock. The small puncture wound on his shin sent him to the ship infirmary and sent me straight to my cabin. It was a rush to get myself horizontal with my legs up before I passed out.

A few years ago, I had the honor of being named godfather of my sister’s child, Matthew. This put me in the front row at his bris. I knew the procedure might be bloody and that I probably shouldn’t watch, but I couldn’t help it. I watched the whole thing up close. Big mistake.

By the end of the ceremony, I was feeling a bit woozy. As I was given the baby to hold, I felt my consciousness slipping away and dropped down to one knee.

“Oh look, he’s praying,” my sister-in-law observed from across the room. Not quite. I handed Matthew off like a football before collapsing into the recliner next to me and breaking out in a cold sweat.

The next two times I attended a bris, I made sure to turn my head completely in the opposite direction.

One day, my Mom called to me from the kitchen. I assumed she wanted me to reach for a bowl on a shelf just out of reach, but I arrived in the kitchen to find her holding her hand over the sink with blood gushing out of her thumb. She very calmly asked me to go to the bathroom and get a bandage for her, since doing so herself would drip blood all over the carpet and make our living room look like a murder scene. The race was on. Could I get to the bathroom, find the bandages, and return to the kitchen before passing out? Yes, just barely.

A few months ago, I took a softball line drive off my index finger. After completing the play, I looked down to see blood streaming out of my finger and down my hand. I immediately dropped to a knee and squeezed my finger, praying that I could make it to the bench before passing out. I did, just barely.

I can watch the most violent and bloody Hollywood movies with no problem, but one glance at a real drop of blood and I’m all done. Why do some people and not others have this adverse reaction to blood? One theory is that people who are sensitive to something just haven’t been exposed to it enough. Maybe. Women who have given birth and soldiers who have been in battle seem to be OK with it. Maybe I just haven’t seen enough blood and guts in my life.

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