I’m not really all that fond of needles.

A lot of people have no problems when it comes to needles, whether it’s for a blood test at the doctor’s office or even the more noble gesture of donating blood, but I just can’t do it myself. It’s for that simple reason that I know I’d never make it as a heroin addict – I’d have to have a heroin buddy or something knock me unconscious first and then shoot me up after I’m good and asleep because otherwise, I’d be booking like a marathon runner away from that needle.

Also, drugs are bad. Stay in school, kids…

But I’ve had the fear of needles ever since I was a little kid – I even remember the experience that effectively scarred me for life. I was at the doctor because the x-rays showed that my liver was on the wrong side (should’ve been a clue that I needed a different doctor, eh?!) and they decided that they wanted some blood tests to try and figure out what in the heck was going on with my body. They sent in quite possibly the worst nurse of all time – not because she jammed the needle around inside my arm looking for a vein like she was fishing for carp, but because after finally sucking a vial’s worth of life juice from my arm, twenty minutes later she had the nerve to come back and chuckle, “Sorry – the sample’s bad. I’m going to have to take another one…” The next time I had to face a needle, it was down the street at a local church where they were giving out vaccinations for school. My Mom had to chase me from the church nearly all the way home once I figured out what was going on in there, and I honestly can’t remember how they ended up getting me vaccinated, so either they just knocked me upside the head with the nearest bible or to this day I could still be walking around without the appropriate vaccinations!

Just between you and me, if I’ve made it this far unscathed, I think I’ll just take my chances!

Now normally I’m just fine with my fear of needles – like I said, no worries about missing out on all of those narcotics or anything – but I’ve got to admit that I do feel a bit guilty when I drive past someplace advertising for blood donations. They’ll have the blood mobile and everything parked out front, and I just can’t help but think that I could be helping to save lives if I wasn’t such a wuss. Well, I’ve put it off for years and years, writing blood donation off as just something that I couldn’t do, but this week I finally decided to confront my fears, stare death in the face, and do my part to help boost Florida’s blood reserves … and I did … but they certainly didn’t get that stuff without a battle…

The staff was nice enough – surprisingly it wasn’t at all as I was expecting, you know with four or five of those evil nurses from my childhood pacing up and down the aisles of chairs, lashing the donors with whips in an effort to get just a few more pints out of their sorry carcasses. Instead they welcomed me and answered all of my questions about what was going to happen and where the nearest exit was in the event that I needed to go booking out of there as I’ve been known to do in the past! In fact, I was actually feeling pretty darned good about the whole experience right up until the point where they took the needle out of my arm – ironically enough – and I proceeded to turn three shades of white and begin my one-way voyage into la-la land. It kind of felt like I can only assume one might feel while riding the Tilt-o-Whirl at the county fair on a recently filled stomach of copious amounts of beer, three corndogs, and unnecessary several handfuls of cotton candy.

Now you know when someone as white as me – who is so pale that he couldn’t get a suntan if he lived on the sun – starts turning even whiter, that something’s just not right! Sure, I was told that “It happens all the time!” and “You’ll be fine in a couple of minutes…”, but then again, I was also told “Don’t close your eyes…” and “Walk away from the light!” … ok, well maybe not that last one, but for a dude that fifteen minutes prior wouldn’t have even considered risking his own life to donate blood had it not been for the relentless peer pressure of the person who could also threat to not have sex with him later on that night if he was going to be such a wuss, needless to say – watching the whole room go white around you is a scary thing!

Fortunately, however, as you may have guessed while reading this column, I did eventually recover and given the sustenance of some chocolate cookies and a Coke immediately thereafter, I am happy to say that I’ve been able to return to my normal daily routine, minus the Tilt-o-Whirl, of course. I do think, however, that out of respect for those of us who are deathly afraid of needles and yet still force ourselves to give the gift of life for the greater good, we should get more out of the experience than just a t-shirt and a package of animal cookies! And I don’t ask much – maybe they could just put a little note on the sack ‘o blood to be read to the blood’s eventual recipient, stating something like “Just wanted you to know that an overweight, wussy white guy nearly passed out while donating this blood – enjoy!” You know, personalize the whole thing a bit. I know if I’m ever in a place to need blood, I wouldn’t mind knowing a little something about the person who donated the blood in the first place! Anything beats just lying there, watching reruns of Judge Judy all day long…

But the ultimate question – will Scott donate blood ever again?! As much as I dislike the hospital scene … and needles … and that whole almost passing out thing, I’m sure I’ll show up in that dreaded chair again eventually. I may very well still almost pass out, but at least I’ll be ready for it next time!