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Home 5 Things I Do to Avoid Passing Out in the Doctor’s Office | by Louisa Skye | May, 2021

5 Things I Do to Avoid Passing Out in the Doctor’s Office | by Louisa Skye | May, 2021

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Most medical facilities will have accommodations for this exact situation. Heck, even most makeshift COVID vaccine sites will accommodate you if you ask.

This is a trick no one told me for years until I got dizzy with a butterfly needle in my arm and a kind phlebotomist had me put my head down on the table. Miraculously, I didn’t pass out.

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

I walk into the doctor’s office with an already heightened level of anxiety. I become hypervigilant and overly aware of my surroundings. The buzzing and brightness of the fluorescent lights, the cold tile underneath my socks, the tightness of the blood pressure cuff. I quickly get overwhelmed, and sometimes find myself struggling to verbalize my issues and my needs.

  • Wear extra thick socks or dress in layers to avoid cold, hard surfaces like the floor, scale, or examination table
  • Wear earplugs, earbuds, or headphones to draw focus from unwanted sounds
  • Bring a fidget toy — fidget toys can help you regain control over your sensory experience; some people find that a small stone or even just a small regular toy that they can play with in their hands works well
  • Talk to your doctor about any textural issues you may have (such as with cotton balls or wooden tongue depressors)

Uncertainty is excellent fuel for anxiety in any situation.

  • Look up the building on Google Maps (or a similar app) and get a feel for the location and the parking situation (if you’re driving)
  • Read up what to do when you get there on the website — you can usually find detailed instructions such as which entrance to use, what floor the office is on, suite number, etc.
  • Make sure you have your insurance card, pharmacy card, and/or copay amount in your wallet before you go
  • Fill out any paperwork in advance if possible, so you won’t have to worry about missing information
  • Compile a list of current medications and supplements (with dosages), recent symptoms, reasons for visiting, and any questions so you’re ready when you start your appointment
  • Look up COVID-19-specific policies Do you have to arrive 15 minutes early? Is the waiting room open? Is a surgical mask required? Will there be a temperature check?

In my experience, well-meaning doctors and nurses will often try to reassure you when you voice concerns about feeling faint at the sight of blood or when you tell them you’re about to pass out. Reassurance is nice, but it’s not what you need when you’re seconds from hitting the floor.

  • Tell them what you need — if you’re in a facility where they don’t deal with fainting patients very often, they may not have the best handle on the situation (I’ve shocked several dermatologists and optometrists in my time — one of them panicked and sent me to the ER!).
  • Insist. I’ve had several appointments where I’ve told them that I tend to pass out around needles, and they’ve responded with “Don’t worry, people don’t usually pass out from this,” and I let it go. But guess what? I passed out. You know your own needs better than anyone, so make them clear.
  • Don’t be timid. Chances are, shyness will just result in reassurance when you need action.



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