Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm such a big girl!

I have posted before about my needle phobia and hypnotherapy.
Today I finally volunteered (to my doc's surprise; I think I finally got my point across last year) to take the injectable drug I've been avoiding for a year and a half. She really was surprised; when she mentioned it, it was in a dismissive, "and-you're-still-not-interested-in-this-of-course" tone, entirely reasonable given my history with her (the finger stick left me shaking; all the techs in the lab cried with me during the blood draw).
But today was really different.
I was a little anxious, and I caught myself several times trying to get worried and stressed out of habit more than anything else. But I knew things were different when I couldn't get too worked up about the finger stick. And it barely hurt. It always hurt before. A lot. More than they said it should. This one I barely felt. And I always have bruises on my fingertips that last for days...I can't feel it tonight. And when it came time to go to the lab, I give them my arm like I've never had any trouble. I didn't say, "you have to take it from my hand because I'm a hard stick." I didn't even think, "you've only got a couple of shots at fiding a vein before I flip out." I just pulled up my sleeve, stuck my arm out, and and let the tech do her thing.
And it worked! I barely felt the stick, she got it in the vein the first try, and unlike previous times I've had blood drawn for tests, I couldn't feel the needle after the initial jab. I've always felt the needle or the little plasic catheter in my arm right up until the draw was done and they took it out. And I've always been a very hard stick: for several years, I've had them take blood from the back of my hand rather than fish around in my arm, which was just excruciating.
My phobia was never about pain. It never had anything to do with whether or not a shot or a stick hurt. But I'm starting to realize that my unreasonable anxiety did make it hurt worse, which then added to the discomfort and ramped up the stress. I have always had a hard time with shots, and the last ten years or so, it's been ridiculous: crying, shaking, full-blown anxiety attacks. When I realized that I was turning down a drug that could help me be healthier because I was afraid to take it, I knew I had to do something, and I finally did.
The needle phobia stems from an incident I witnessed as a child, as near as we can tell. My mother and I can't quite get our stories straight, but we're agreed that something scared me terribly when I was little. I think I saw another child have a seizure or something in response to a shot. And every time I got anxious about a needle, I reverted back to being that scared, confused little girl. Today I acted like a grown-up. I heard the anxious thoughts, but I didn't let them take over.
And tomorrow morning, I'm going to give myself a shot. At least for the next month, I'm going to do that twice a day. I can do it. I'm a big girl!

update 01/14/09: I did it...I gave myself the shot this morning. I wasted about 30 minutes fooling around before I realized I was looking for excuses not to do it...and then I did it. I suspect that unless you've had this level of anxiety over something, this post sounds self-indulgent and childish. But this is a major accomplishment for me, and I am very pleased!


  1. The pain is worse when we tense up.

    I think that's a wonderful "big statement" period. About all sorts of things....

  2. Wow, that is some wonderful progress! I've dealt with needle phobia, too, and it's such a relief to have a breakthrough like you've had! (I've even become a regular blood donor.)


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