Volunteering cured my trypanophobia

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Disha Patel
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The black spots were approaching; I knew I would be in complete darkness soon. I gripped my mother’s hand, knowing that this was only going to get worse. Seconds later I was jolted awake as my mother sprinkled water onto my sweaty face. Her worried expression was no different than all the other times she had been through this with me. My doctor helped me up and stated that I’d fainted because of my trypanophobia. This fear of needles has made its home in my mind since childhood. I was irrationally afraid of needles poking through my skin and the pain. For years, I was unable to handle the lack of control or the limp feeling I had after fainting; it was a battle I would lose against myself and the more I tried to fight it the worse it would get.

A few months later while volunteering at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I moved down the hallway, passing room after room. “ Hi! Can I paint something?” I looked around to see if anyone was with the little girl talking to me, but her perked up smile and beaming energy was hard to see past. “Jocelyn, you know that you shouldn’t be running around” said a heaving woman running towards us. I slid a wooden figurine behind my back, turned towards the girl and said, “So Jocelyn what would you like to paint today?” Jocelyn, unsure, looked at the woman, her charge nurse Amanda. “I know you like horses, would you like to paint one today?” Jocelyn grabbed the figurine and pulled me in for a hug. Her energy and smile were so powerful.

The following Saturday while volunteering I made sure to visit Jocelyn. I walked to her door and Amanda whispered, “Jocelyn is confined to her room today, would you paint with her?” I nodded quickly, pulling a chair close to Jocelyn as she talked about her horse named Princess. Soon Amanda announced it was time for Jocelyn’s IV therapy. I prepared myself to clean up and leave, but Jocelyn’s mother asked if I could stay since Jocelyn felt comfortable around me. My lips formed “of course” but my mind went into panic mode thinking about my fear. As Amanda came in with the therapy supplies, my palms started sweating and my brain was scattered. When Jocelyn looked towards me for a reassuring smile, I gave a shaky smile back, thinking there’s no way I could faint here. When Amanda came closer, I gripped Jocelyn’s arm and it was like she knew I was scared so she told me to close my eyes. I shut my eyes, telling Jocelyn how strong and powerful she was. When I opened my eyes, the IV was in and Jocelyn giggled, “You’re scared of the needle aren’t you? I was too, but now that I see it everyday I’m used to it.”

What an inspirational experience! When I was seven years old I swore I would never go into the medical field because of my fear of needles. Now, ten years later, I know if I want to make a positive change in the lives of others like Jocelyn, I have to work towards overcoming my fears. People like Jocelyn inspire me and give me strength. I want to be a support system for others and give them the opportunity to become the brave and incredible people that they’re meant to be.