Just the Tip
If you were hoping this post was going to be about something other than the fear of needles, you might want to check a different site. One that charges by the month.
Today I got to experience the feeling of fluid leaving my body through a needle in one arm and fluid entering my body through a needle in the other arm. But not at the same time. And not for related issues. And not really for “issues,” since both were completely voluntary.
So no worries.
But the whole thing made me incredibly grateful I’m not one of those people who’s terrified of needles. I’m terrified of Sponge Bob Square Pants and those tubes of biscuits that pop open when you tear off the wrapper, but not needles. I actually had this discussion with a friend of mine not too long ago. Throughout her childhood, she faced inexplicable dread any time she had to go to the doctor to receive a shot or draw blood. And, much to her dismay, it hasn’t gotten any better as an adult.
Now – this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill, “I-can’t-stand-to-watch-when-the-little-silver-cylinder-pierces-my-epidermis” situation. This is bone-chilling, sweat-inducing, faint-worthy fear. The kind where she needs to warn the staff before-hand in case there’s an “incident.”
I’ll be honest – I didn’t fully believe my friend when she explained this challenge. I mean, as far as I’m aware, death (or even severe injury) by needle isn’t exactly a common occurrence. I thought maybe she was just being a bit of a baby.
Until I witnessed this fear today with my own eyes.
A very pregnant twenty-something sat in the chair next to mine as I was getting my blood drawn. My attendant was filling the 2nd or 3rd little container with my blood, and I watched lazily as the dark red liquid ran up the plastic tube and entered the vial.
And then I felt it. Sheer panic. Not my own, but that of the girl next to me. She was squirming around and a look of terror entered her eyes when the nurse brought out the rubber blue strappy thingie while using a calm voice to explain, “Ssshhh, it’s just a tourniquet. Just a tourniquet.”
I mean, this girl was not playing. You can’t fake that kind of fear. I felt awful for her. It was clear she couldn’t help it. If there’s one thing to say about fear, it’s that it can’t be rationed with. They had to gently hold her down while they drew just one small vial of blood. She was done before me. She hoisted her ginormous belly on shaky legs, took one look at me, and said, “I don’t know how you can do that.”
So I said the one thing I could think of to try to make her smile.
I lifted my non-needle-pierced arm, pointed to the giant protrusion that was her stomach, and said, “I don’t know how you can do that.”
As far as I can figure, we’re all built to withstand different kinds of discomfort. We learn our limits of what we can endure and the reasons for which we’d stand to endure them. To me, the prick of a needle is like plucking your eyebrows – slightly uncomfortable, but nothing to get worked up about. But to others, it’s like Sponge Bob Square Pants running after them with an unopened tube of refrigerated biscuit dough. Nothing good can come of it.
Do any of you have a strange phobia? Feel free to share – it’s not like I can judge!