Mind over the matter

My bleeding finger after a small blood test

Some of you know I have a couple of great fears in my life.

  • dogs
  • needles and/or injections

I’ve been bitten by dogs many times, the last time I was walking along a quiet street and a little yappy dog came out of the front garden where the owner was cutting the hedge. Walked across the road and came up behind me, then bite me on my lower right leg! Then ran off back inside. The owner instantly ran over and took me to hospital in a car.

But for my fear of dogs, living with one for over a year was one heck of a challenge. Yep after marrying my ex-wife, she brought her dog (jack) over to the UK. I got use to him after a while, and although I’m still fearful of them I’m not so bad now. However my fear of needles has never been damped in actual fact it maybe gotten worst over time.

So why the fear?

  • Well I’ve had a few negative experiences which I still remember
  • When I was about 2, my mother took me to have my vaccinations and when the needle was going in to my arm I felt the pain. I reached out and made a grab for the needle, therefore prolonging the whole experience.
  • When I was at school, someone had TB so of course everyone had to have a injection, just in case. I find ways to put the whole thing off for about a year! In the end they got me and the nurses told me I almost crushed there hands when having the injection.
  • I had a volleyball injury and went to see the doctor to get my finger sorted out. It was going slightly green from all the puss in my finger. Anyway, the doctor looked at it, turned around and asked me to hold my hand out. When he turned back around, he held my arm and whipped out a needle from his other hand. He then quickly pierced/stabbed my finger with the needle and let the puss drip out along with some blood. It was so quick and caught me by such a surprise I was in total shock and threaten to call the police.
  • Every time I go to have anything done at a hospital, they want to do a Sickle cell test before anything else. So a while ago I had surgery on my arm and they did a test. This time they put some pads of creams on the back of my hand to "relax the skin" left it there for about 45mins. Then proceeded to give me a very very painful blood tests in the back of my hand (hence the antiseptic pads don’t work). However I had hidden in the bathroom for the 2nd round. It took 3 doctors to drag me kicking and screaming to get me out and and ready for the 2nd injection.

So yep I’m seriously terrified, and trust me I got more storys/experiences.

Blood testing kit

Hypnotherapy

I’ve been carrying this fear for ages and well frankly I was willing to try anything to get over it. I even considered taking drugs to numb the effects of the needle. So I decided before I go to such extremes I should try hypnotherapy.

I asked the team of physiotherapist at Manchester Hospital and they suggested I check out a portal site for hypnotherapy. Having found a couple in central Manchester, I sent out emails and Shannon douglas from Mind body balance studio, replied with a nice email suggesting I come in for a free session to discuss everything. So I did and thats where it all started.

Shannon is a interesting ex-pat Australian, shes relatively young, very thin, some would say attractive and quite charming. When I say charming, I don’t mean in a creepy, social engineering type of way. Actually shes more innocent and caring that I imagined. My natural barrier were very high when I first stepped in the room but I started to relax with everything that she said. What really got me was the fact that she was newly registered on the NHS referral index and that she could do it in 3 sessions (each session being 1 hour long).

After the first session, Shannon put me under for about 20mins. It seemed like 5mins. (when I say put me under, I really mean put me in a very relaxed state where I’m more receptive to external ideas, it not like how you imagine hypnosis to be (stage hypnosis for example) its quite relaxing and your mind won’t do anything you don’t want to do. Its like giving up smoking, you can only really do it if you REALLY want to) The great thing is that the sessions are recorded and Shannon puts them on Cd for you to listen to later in your own home. She recommends listening to them everyday between the sessions. Its works well because you can really relax in your own home and listen carefully to Shannons voice.

Funny enough Shannon uses a dj app (Virtual dj) to mix between tunes when your under as she reads aloud the pre-paired personalised script. Shannon’s great at what she does but shes not very technically savvy, We did talk about ways to improve her web profile but thats for another day. Back to the therapy and I’ll skip to the last session.

The last session

In the last session (the bridge session, as I’ll call it) Shannon asked me to look around the room afterwards. I noticed the sharps bin (yellow) behind her massive microscope. I also started wondering why she had the sharps bin and the massive microscope. Anyway she explained she does Blood analysis too and showed me what was in the bin. There were these little grey cartridges which Shannon showed me had a needle in it. They were small and very compact. I played with one for a while and Shannon showed me how it works by pushing the orange stick in and twisting it off. Then she pricked her finger by pressing the button and put the blood on a slide which went under the microscope.

It was amazing to see the blood cells so close up, I’ve never seen them like that before and Shannon pointed out certain things in her own blood. You could see tons of red blood cells, white blood cells and many more parts (I wasn’t that bothered what was there, just seeing them so close up, got me going). Anyway, I started wondering what my own blood looks like. My curiosity has just over taken my fear and I think Shannon knew this or at least identified this. The only thing was that I would need to give myself a blood test if I was going to find out.

So after a long long time, I plucked up enough courage to do it. I was almost crying before I did it but I did it!

The relief of doing it was almost unbearable, it was like something had been lifted off of me. Shannon was amazed and was close to tears herself, as she said,

"You’ve come such a long way, in such a short time. Carrying around all that fear for decades must have been debilitating… I’m so proud of you"

And honestly I believe she really meant it.

Blood testing kit

My Fear is gone?

So is it gone? Well not exactly… But I feel much more at ease with the idea of injections. I can now also watch a blood test on the TV without turning away like I use to. I still don’t like it but in my mind everything seems a lot clearer that before. Its like the grey cloud has been broken up into small manageable chunks. Its all very impressive and I’m sure the Cds will come in useful for future events.

The power of the mind is unmeasurable, this is part of the reason why I’m so interested in the flickr for dreams startup, mydreamscape. As Cob
b in inception says
,

"planting a seed in someone’s mind could define a man; change him"

Shannon’s hyponotherapy certainly has helped me change my perspective on this fear I’ve been living with for decades. I wish I had it done it years ago. Thank you Shannon, I hope things pick up for you, but doing some of the things I suggested might help too. This is a giant step forward and my life will change for ever more because of this…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.