I think I have a phobia of needles, which is probably going to cause problems in the near future. I haven't had to get a shot for a few years, but the last time I got one, I was terrified and almost had to be held down in order to get it done. If I see a needle going into someone's skin on TV or in a movie, I freak out and I can't look or listen. Whenever I go to the doctors or whatever, I always ask them straight up if they have to give me a shot or something, because I am so afraid.
I know that in the coming year, I am going to need another shot, and maybe even have to get blood drawn (a needle directly in a vein scares me more than anything else). Plus, I would like to be able to give blood, and I think that if I get an STD test then they will probably want to draw a blood sample.
How can I possibly overcome my fear? I heard that people with really bad phobias can get knocked out before a shot so they won't feel it. But I just wish I could be able to get a shot or get blood drawn without being terrified.
I've never been fond of needles myself, either. I've had to get used to them though, because I have hypothyroidism and have to get my thyroid hormones checked regularly - via a blood test.
The things that have helped me most are just remembering to breathe and not looking. I stare directly at the wall on the other side of the room and think about NOTHING except taking long breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth. If it helps for you to have someone with you, to hold your hand or talk to you, bring them along. My mom used to always have to do that for me. Even just having a conversation with someone can distract you and before you know it, you're done.
On the other hand, some people find actually watching it get done helps. I think they're nuts, but whatever works, works.
I also try not to make a big deal out of getting blood drawn - if you turn the whole experience into an ordeal, you're just going to make yourself really scared and upset again.
Talk to your doctors and nurses about it, and tell them that you're really not cool with needles and they can help you relax, too.
I also make sure I bring juice along with me, since you can sometimes feel sick after.
Don't expect it to be instant either, it might take you a couple tries before you can deal with needles calmly, but if you find something that helps, keep at it. Good luck! :-)
I used to have a serious phobia when it came to needles as well. Like to the point where I would cry almost uncontrollably when I was younger and would usually throw up or pass out or both.
A few years ago, I was having some health problems and they were having trouble diagnosing me. I had to have lots of tests and eventually had to get injections on a regular basis for some time. I was away from my family at the time, so I had to do all of this pretty well by myself. That tends to grow you up pretty fast. I didn't have the option of going into hysterics or freaking out. Because my health was on the line and there was no one there to communicate with the doctors other than me. So I just learned to deal with it. Pure and simple. I told myself that I was being a bit ridiculous and that it wasn't that bad. It's okay to be nervous and scared, but it's not okay to let it get so far out of control that you can't take care of your own health.
So, as someone else suggested, not looking is often a good place to start. Can you take someone along with you when you go to have the blood drawn or get a shot? If so, having someone you know there to talk to you and hold your hand might help. Also, tell the person giving you the shot or doing the blood draw that you are afraid. Be really honest about what's happened in the past and that you have a lot of anxiety about it now. It's also okay to ask how many sticks/draws the person who will be sticking you has done. If you've got high anxiety, you don't want the new person working on you. And it's alright to ask for a veteran to do the stick. Also, if feeling the stick bothers you, try calling your doctor's office ahead of time and asking if there is anything they can give you or that you can take that would help. Sometimes they will prescribe or suggest and oral seditative or some topical anestetic that they can give you to numb your skin such that you won't feel as much of the stick.
As the previous poster said, don't expect to instantly have a complete lack of anxiety. It will probably take a few times before you're really cool with it. And it may never completely go away. I still have some anxiety before I go...and I will still pass out or throw up on occasion. But I'm in control now. And really, a part of it is just sheer will power. You have to really tell yourself that you can handle this and that you can control your anxiety. Remember that your health is important and that's why you're doing all this. If you do find that the anxiety is more than you can handle, then it's time to consider talking with a therapist. There's no shame in needing some professional help to control the anxiety if it really is that severe and again it is important for your health that you do whatever is necessary to make sure that you get the health care that you need.
------------------ Sarah Liz Scarleteen Sexpert
[This message has been edited by KittenGoddess (edited 08-22-2005).]
I'm also a needlephobe - panic attacks, fainting, the whole works, and I absolutely understand. Something which for me has been very important is being able to talk about this openly to someone - rationalising exactly what it is about needlesticks which makes you so scared. It might help you to find a doctor who you can go to specifically for needle-related procedures who you know isn't going to belittle you, or otherwise tell someone very close to you how you feel and why, and have them come along with you for the procedure. Try and ensure the person isn't also a needlephobe as this will only contribute to your levels of anxiety.
To me, it's encouraging that you do ask doctors straight up whether a needle procedure's in the pipeline (I still have trouble bringing up the subject and it's a big obstacle if you can't talk about it). Make sure the doctor or nurse in question knows exactly how afraid you are, and how you've reacted in the past, so they know exactly what they're dealing with and they'll be extra gentle with you. You might also be able to get a sedative or anaesthetic beforehand if you ask in advance.
One of the things which has helped me most with relaxation came from (believe it or not) my singing teacher. Something which helps a lot as a distraction is breathing very slowly and carefully through the nose with as much control as you can, filling up the abdominal area first, then the ribcage, then exhaling. It'll calm you down, stop you from passing out, and give you something else to concentrate on.
At the end of the day, you have to do it, and as hard as it is, it doesn't take long (though I know it can feel like years) and you WILL come through it. Try to plan through the procedure in your head and keep in mind what you'll do to stay calm at each step.
Since you've got needlesticks approaching in the coming year, I do think it might be worth trying to desensitize yourself a little. Try to look at pictures of needles and keep your eyes on the movie when they show a shot happening, even if only for a couple of seconds at a time at first. Build up to it and don't try to over-scare yourself too soon. It'll make things much easier when the time finally comes for you to have a shot or get blood drawn.
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