Monday, October 6, 2008

Vasovagal Reaction

Vasovagal reaction: A reflex of the involuntary nervous system that causes the heart to slow down (bradycardia) and that, at the same time, affects the nerves to the blood vessels in the legs permitting those vessels to dilate (widen). As a result the heart puts out less blood, the blood pressure drops, and what blood is circulating tends to go into the legs rather than to the head. The brain is deprived of oxygen and the fainting episode occurs.
So ever since my sophomore year in high school, I have been terrified of giving blood, terrified to the point of passing out or vomiting because I make myself so nervous. This is not something I'm proud of and I realize a small vile of blood is not going to kill me; however, my body and my brain seems to think so. I have passed out once, vomited once, and every other time I have become so hot and clammy that I have to lay very still with several cold compresses in order to avoid one of the previous mentioned reactions. Nurses have given me all sorts of advice from laying all the way down with a cold compress behind my neck, to having something to drink to force me to keep breathing, to the obvious of just looking away and relaxing. None of these have helped, no matter how much I tell myself that I'm going to be ok and it's no big deal, I still manage to have a similar reaction. Thus, I loathe the idea of having any blood drawn. Shots are one thing--blood being drawn is another.

Today was the most recent experience with my wussy (yes I just used the word wussy) like tendencies. I had my annual exam...YES!!! (sarcasm intended) They always want to draw a tiny amount of blood which I certainly think is an excellent thing. I had my glass of Dr. Pepper and I even warned the nurse beforehand. She sat me in the only chair that can recline and the reaction started...chest tightening, cold get the idea. She then asked if I wanted her to do the finger prick instead of the vein in my arm. "Can you do that?" I asked. "Of course," she said. "Fantastic" I think; only to be proven wrong in the next 5 minutes. She proceeds to prick my finger and everything is going fine. Until she puts the band aid on my finger...I can then feel my finger throbbing. Uh oh, more tightening, more sweating. To make a long story short, I end up with the chair reclined, my shoes off, a curtain pulled around my chair, a cold compress on my stomach, in my left hand, on my right hand and on my forehead. Wouldn't I have been better off to just pass out? AHHH!!!! I hate this feeling and it makes me feel terrible for the nurses. What if I keep doing this? Having a child will be such a traumatic experience.

Apparently, or so the nurse tells me, I have a problem with vasovagal reactions. Thus, the reason for the definition at the beginning of this post. Vasovagal? Really? Regardless of the term I hate the reaction my body has. Does anyone else have these problems? Any suggestions for getting over this reaction? At least I just have to have my blood drawn once a year...until I decide I'm ready to start a family--then I'm doomed.


Naturally Caffeinated Family said...

I'm so sorry! Can you ask your doctor if they have any suggestions! As long as you feel ok, I wouldn't worry a bit how it looks to or affects other people!

Mojito Maven said...

oh wow!! *HUGS* to you!!!!! i hope you feel better.