My father was a doctor, a very knowledgeable and very respected one. It wasn’t uncommon that walking with him on the street people would stop him to thank him for helping them feel better, for curing them, even some for saving their lives. Growing up I always thought, I wanted to be just like my Dad, I wanted to be a doctor just like him. I was his pride since none of my older sister wanted to deal with blood and guts. So a precocious younger of four seemed like the best candidate to take after him.
Indeed I wanted to be either a doctor or a vet because I loved animals as well. I was fearless. Anything that moved I had to grab it and bring it home no matter how big, slimy, or gross it looked. Many times my poor mom was on the verge of a heart attack with all the “pet-friends” I would bring with me. So for sure we all thought—that one day I would fulfill one of those dreams. Thinks started to look different when I was about thirteen years old. It was the early 80’s, Hello Kitty was the fashion and the song Funkytown was the major hit.
One day, some heartless person ran over our sweet dog “Motita”, leaving her on the street all bloody and unable to move. My sister and I rushed her to a Vet only to find out that she needed stitches in one of her legs. “Hold the leg”, the Vet told me. I did as he said and with my sister holding the other leg, the Vet began sewing. The last thing I remember I woke up from something and I am on the floor, the Vet holding me, my sister looking at me like I have three heads, and the whole floor all wet.
“What happened”, I asked. According to the Vet I fainted. That was weird I thought, I didn’t feel sick that morning at all. My sister was so embarrassed not because of the fainting spell, but for the wet floor. What, that was me?? Apparently unconsciously I went. Doubled embarrassed the three of us went home.
According to my father, the fainting episode was due to the high emotions I lived through that day. Not to worry he said. “All you have to do is get used to the blood. This is normal the first few times.” I tried several times getting “used” to blood as he said. Nope, nothing, nada. Every time I tried the same story repeated itself: waking up in the middle of the floor with a cold profusely sweat, pale color, and somebody next to me mopping the floor.
As sad as it was back then, I had to resign to all my medical dreams. As much as I loved science and medicine, this condition known as Hemophobia changed the course of my live. This condition never got better, I still faint at the minimal sight of blood; but I learned how to live with it. When going to visit someone at the hospital, I make sure I use the bathroom first, and if I need to have a blood test, I must be completely laying down, not looking and constantly smelling alcohol.
Some say that this is the result of a traumatic experience during childhood but I just don’t remember one; others say is a genetic thing. I want to believe the second one. Later I found out that the same sister who was with me at the Vet that day she developed the same condition over the years. Maybe that was the traumatic day that started it all.
Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been had I not have this condition. I still love anything related to medicine and science but because of this, my life took an opposite turn. It took me a while to figure out to choose another major when I went to college and to find something I was passionate about. And now whenever my eight year old brings “pet friends” to the house, I am now at the verge of a heart attack just like my mom was back then. Above all, I wish I could know exactly what it is. Why me and why blood. Why do we have to change?