How Needles Almost Killed Me, and How I Got Over It (Mostly)

I'm waiting to have my blood drawn as I write this. There's little else on my mind.

I hate needles.

I always have. Even in my late 20s, I had to look away and hold my breath while the nurse said, "This will only pinch a little."

When we were preparing to move out here, we had to get a couple of vaccinations. One time in particular, I was so freaked out I couldn't eat breakfast or even sit down in the waiting room. I just wanted it over with. Well, they gave me the shot, but on our way out the door, I nearly blacked out.

I thought maybe I had just gotten up too fast (I did sit down while my wife got her shot), so I put my head between my knees until it went away. I didn't black out, but I wondered if it had something to do with what they shot into me.

My wife needed some medicine, but in the line at the pharmacy, I started sweating like crazy. My wife told me to sit down while she got what she needed. While I waited, it got even worse. I had trouble breathing, and my hands were tingling. I watched my fingers curl into a tight fist, ignoring every message my brain was sending them otherwise.

My breaths came shorter, but I managed to call my wife and she called the doctors. I thought for sure the shot had killed me, like I was having an allergic reaction, or they put the wrong stuff in the syringe or something. Meanwhile, the doctors were calm as a desert.

After a while, my hands began to unclench and I could breathe again. The doctors told me it wasn't anything terrible. I just had a panic attack.

And I felt like an idiot.

The whole thing was in my head. Made-up. Pretend. I could've prevented it, even, if I'd just eaten something beforehand and sat down for the shot (which they patronizingly had me do next time).*

It's seven years later, and not only am I not freaked out (well, a little bit), but I can even watch the needle go in and my blood come out. I don't like it, but at least I'm not dying.

I don't know exactly what changed me, but I like to give the credit to my kids. I didn't want them to grow up so afraid of needles that they believed the doctors were killing them. So I tell them over and over again that getting a shot does hurt, but only a little, like getting pinched. I even pinch myself and them to show how little actual pain there is.

And somewhere along the line, I started to believe it myself.

Anything you're afraid of?

* Although the patronizing might have been all in my head, too.


Nancy said...

People putting their hands on the front of my neck. Can't wear turtlenecks, have to really concentrate on something else when I have a facial and she works on my neck.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Deep water. I'm convinced (doesn't matter if it's a pool as clear as a summer day) that there's something down there that wants to eat me.

I could never write a water-horror story. I would freak myself out.

Matthew MacNish said...

Flying. Actually, not so much flying, but crashing and burning. And I hate flying alone, because when I have my kids on the plane, it's easier to just pray for their souls.

I'm not sure my own is worth saving.

Victoria Dixon said...

Spiders! Completely irrational fear. I know that the can't hurt me (much), but that's not what freaks me out. Don't laugh, but they have too many legs. The legs freak me out. Really, anything with more than four legs freaks me out. Spiders just look the most vicious of those insects and they also tend to fall on/attack me. The latter really isn't fair because my husband loves spiders and would be so happy if they did this to him, but they go straight for me.

Adam Heine said...

TOTALLY with you on the spiders, Victoria. And scorpions and facehuggers and that creepy cat bus from My Neighbor Totoro. THINGS SHOULD NOT HAVE MORE THAN FOUR LEGS!

Keriann Greaney Martin said...

The same exact thing happened to me, except I actually DID black out and fall to the floor. I was in high school getting that hepatitis vaccine. They gave me the shot and while we were filling out paperwork to leave, I suddenly woke up on the floor. Actually, I woke up when they put smelling salts under my nose. So yeah, I know your pain. I'm still freaked out by needles.

OMG, that cat bus from Totoro is CREEPY! With the weird fleshy door that expands by itself. It's OK for a cartoon but imagine if that was real? Ewww.

These are the top two things that freak me out. Everything else is a distant third on the list:

1. Being trapped in a tight space, like you can't turn around. Even trying to reach something under the bed gets me nervous that I might get stuck and can't get out.
2. Pincher bugs (aka earwigs). *shudders*

julie fedderson said...

I'm afraid of water, although I can get over it by wearing many layers of life vests. Commercials with talking food bother me too--why would I want to eat something that was just talking to me minutes earlier? And clowns. I hate clowns.

Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

Oh, jeepers, I hate needles too.