As the time approaches for my annual flu jab, my needle anxiety rears it’s ugly little needle head once again.
I hate needles, I will do almost anything to avoid them, jabs are never fun, but allowing another to take my blood is, off the scale, terrifying. Talking about ‘veins’ (the word alone makes me shudder), is enough to reduce me to tears.
Interestingly, I thought my needle phobia was called ‘needle phobia’. But apparently it can also be known as aichmophobia or belonephobia, although these may refer to a fear of pointy objects in general.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was informed that at some point, I would have to let the medics take some of my blood. I avoided it for as long as I could. Eventually, given an appointment, I went to the surgery and sat in the waiting room. After a couple of minutes, I got right up and walked out again.
I rang the midwife and told her I couldn’t go through with it. She gave me quite a stern lecture about how I was putting my baby’s life at risk. I felt terrible. But not quite terrible enough to let her have any of my blood. Various relatives tried to persuade me, but I would not budge.
Eventually, in desperation, it was suggested that a doctor try and take the blood required from my foot (as my midwife had correctly guessed that it was particularly my arm that I had the issue with). I had never heard of this, but was willing to go along with it, if it meant I didn’t have to offer up my arm to anyone.
On the designated day, I arrived at the hospital and was introduced to a Consultant (a Consultant for goodness sake.) He gamely jabbed my foot with a needle for about an hour, but only managed to acquire the tiniest amount of blood. Apparently my veins were actually retreating from the surface of my skin. With a sigh, and a general air of defeat, he informed the midwife that it was probably enough for what was required.
A week later, I had a phone call from the surgery telling me that they had lost the sample. God’s honest truth. Talk about ‘you couldn’t make it up.’
I sat down and cried for about ten minutes and then decided that the only thing for it was to go to the surgery immediately, thrust my arm at the first medic I encountered, and say ‘Do it now!’ (Which was a bit of a shock to me and the poor medic.)
Afterward, I was left feeling a bit of an idiot, as although my body (mind?) didn’t quite play ball, and I felt all sweaty and sick, and was as pale as a ghost, it didn’t actually hurt….But I’m not sure that it’s fear of the pain which terrifies me so much?
It’s incredible isn’t it, the power our minds have over our bodies. My needle phobia is completely inside my head, and, even though I know that, it doesn’t make any difference.
Last year I had some dental problems and had to undergo both a root canal and an extraction (I know!!!) This involved regular injections in my mouth and, not surprisingly, the more I had them, the less frightened I became. I think I can honestly say that having a mouth injection is no longer an anxiety issue for me.
Vaccinations in my arm can also be managed without hysteria now, and, if I remember to relax my arm, I can almost experience zero anxiety. Almost. I still have to “surprise myself” with a jab. I tell myself that I’m not going to have it for a while yet…..and then I surprise myself and go in on the spur of the moment. This works quite well as I don’t give myself time to ruminate on it.
Why do I experience such anxiety at the prospect of an encounter with a needle …whilst my son is so relaxed, he can read a book throughout? I wish I knew.
As a counsellor, I am well aware that a phobia can arise following a trauma, but are also as easily triggered by an association, which is much more difficult to define. I’m very lucky that I’m not particularly scared of spiders or snakes, (though in the latter case, I’m not their biggest fan in the world) and I don’t run for the hills if I see a clown, or panic at the prospect of heights or flying, but all these things are hugely terrifying to some. And it’s really common and completely “normal”.
Phobias, big are small, can take over a life. So, if you are terrified of something, please talk to someone about your fear… I guarantee that by verbalising it, you are taking the first step towards managing it.
Finally, I couldn’t leave this subject without a quick zoom around the net to research the most unusual phobias. I bring you (from Healthtopia), Nomophobia, which is the fear of not having your mobile, (that’s probably not so unusual), Euphobia, which is the fear of receiving good news, and finally, Phobophobia, which is the fear of phobias.
If you would like to leave me a message about your phobias and how you cope with them, I would be delighted to hear from you…. ❤️