Who knew drawing blood would trigger a memory of Teddy?

Photo By Mel B.

Today was the day for me to go have blood drawn at the lab. This is part of me trying to follow a healthier lifestyle as I mentioned in Start with Exercise. I agree to go to the clinic to stabilize my blood pressure. I had to fast today so they could draw blood and check cholesterol and other levels.

Most of what was on my mind as I went to the clinic was the fact that I couldn’t have coffee or my banana this morning. Many people on Twitter and Facebook know I am early riser. My alarm goes off at 4:50am and I usually drink my first cup of coffee within 15 minutes of getting up. Today, I couldn’t.

When I watched the lab technician draw my blood, at first it was just the normal passive watching, but then I started thinking back to the blood draw for Teddy on Teddy’s Last Day. I must have shown something on my face because the technician asked if I was OK. All of the sudden, tears streamed down my face as I tried to explain how seeing the needles and vials made me think back to Teddy.

Dawn Bugni and others had told me there would be triggers that would remind me of Teddy for a long time. I just didn’t see this one coming.

What’s a trigger?

A trigger is something that makes you think back to something in your life, like the needle for me today. Triggers can be reminders of good things or bad things in your life. They may have little connection to the real incident or happening in your life but for that moment, they will cause you to react. The reactions for each of us may be different. For me, it was tears and some sadness. For others, the trigger can result in a rush of anger that to those nearby may seem irrational or out of character.

If you have lost a job, you may be triggered by something on TV that reminds you of the work you once did or something as simple as a can of Mountain Dew that you had on break every day.

When could a trigger come into play?

I was talking to Bridget Haymond, Truth for Life Coach, as I was writing this post. She was saying that generally when you experience a trigger, your first reaction is shock, then fear, and then anger. Other scenarios that triggers could play a role in are a bad diagnosis at the doctors, unexpected death of a loved one, divorce, or a cheating spouse. Triggers also play a role in recovery from addictions and can cause a relapse when you respond to the trigger by going back to an old habit.

I had been prepared for triggers that would remind me of Teddy because of my conversation with Dawn but I was not prepared for my reaction this morning.

You can’t predict when a trigger could suddenly cause you to react but understanding that they are there may help you to cope with them when they do happen.


  1. Kim Woodbridge on February 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    My Mom bought all the dishtowels and sheets that I have – it was always something that she gave me as a gift. I haven’t purchased any new ones (and the dishtowels are getting pretty threadbare). When I change the sheets on the bed, I always feed sad because the sheets make me think of my Mom. It’s funny how such a simple thing can trigger such a strong emotional response.

    I also don’t like to listen to Prairie Home Companion or Car Talk because both of those radio shows make me think of my Mom too and I just end up feeling really bummed out about her being gone.

    • Julie Walraven on February 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Awwww, Kim… Thank you for sharing. I have triggers like that too. I have memories of everyone in my house from dishes to recipes to furniture. It is hard to lose someone we care about and eventually those memories become less sadness and more joy.

  2. Dawn Bugni on February 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Julie –

    Glad I could help a smidge with preparing you. It does get easier. And sometimes today’s trigger won’t even phase you tomorrow. The human psyche is difficult to predict.

    I don’t have a “specific” trigger. A memory might choose to stroll across my heart on a day when I’m vulnerable. It’s never “easy” losing a loved one — two- or four-legged, finned, furred or feathered.

    Hugs my friend!

    • Julie Walraven on February 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

      Thank you, Dawn! I wanted to help people realize that triggers exist. I knew they did before but you reinforced it.

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