the weird chick

Needles

January 19th, 2010


I hate needles. I really do. I was at the doctor’s once – I wasn’t feeling too well – and he did the regular stuff, like pushing on my stomach and asking if it hurt, or weighing me, or something routine like that. I’m fine with all that, doesn’t bother me at all. But then he reached over for that paper, the one he fills out every time I need to get blood work done. I panicked. Not too obviously – as in, I didn’t make any noise – but still something you could notice. The last time I went to see him, about a year or so ago, the same thing happened. Well, I don’t think it was quite as bad, but the same sort of thing happened. I probably mentioned hating needles. This time, I almost started to cry, and I wasn’t even getting the needle yet. I had all the signs of anxiety – I was shaky, breathing heavily, set to cry, talking fast and awkwardly – and the doctor had barely just told me that I had to get some blood work done.

Nobody hates needles as much as I do. At least, nobody I know. I turn into a little kid whenever I have to get a needle. I cry, I hyperventilate, I shake, and I need my mommy. One time, when she wasn’t there, I just refused to get the needle. My dad was there and a nurse was there, that was it. She put the disinfectant on my arm – the inside of my elbow – and was preparing to tie me off, when I panicked and pulled my arms up in front of me, elbows bent to keep my veins safe and puncture-free. Naturally, the nurse and my dad weren’t too pleased. The nurse didn’t do much, I guess she was a little shocked by my behaviour. I was sixteen at the time, I think, and people tend to judge based on age. Being sixteen, I guess she assumed I wouldn’t cry and panic and act like a scared little girl.

The nurse ended up leaving the room to go get some help. That still makes me laugh, kind of, that she needed to get help because I refused to let her stab me. She actually said, when she left the room, that she “needed help in there”. She came back with another nurse and what I assumed was a doctor, though maybe I’m just being sexist. Anyway, in the room with me were two women and two men, all of whom were a lot bigger than me, and older. Adrenaline’s a great thing, though, because all four of them had grabbed onto my arm, and they all pulled at my arm, trying to bring it down so they could steal my blood, and they couldn’t move me. Four grown adults, and me, the picture of a crying child. My arms stayed right up there on my chest, and I kept crying and screaming “No!” while they tried. I wouldn’t say I was hysterical, though I was probably close.

They gave up. My mom had been driving over from wherever she lived at the time – she’s moved so often I can’t remember things like that anymore – and she arrived shortly after I’d saved my vein. The first nurse I had dealt with, the one who had left looking for “help” – seriously, she actually went out and said she needed help, in some urgent tone, but sort of condescending, like I was acting stupid and breaking things and needed adult supervision – had an angry face on, but she was trying to hide it. For the sake of her job, probably. I doubt she cared much what I thought of her. She put all the stuff away and said something about how it obviously wasn’t going to happen. No shit, bitch.

My dad was so mad when we left. I think he said something about me embarrassing him, I’m not sure. Maybe it was about how I was wasting his time, making him go there with me and then acting so stupid. Actually, I think he said something about being more worried than anything, since I needed to do the blood work to make sure nothing was seriously wrong with me. I have sort of a bad medical history, so my parents worry easily. My mom was mad too, in the “I’m so worried”-meets-annoyed sense. She was kind of upset about having to take time off work to take me to get the needle done another day. I think she had to take time off work. I don’t remember that too well. Must not have been important.

The day I went with her, I had the needle done without much trouble. I still cried, and I still panicked, but I didn’t fight. I don’t really understand it, but somehow, she calmed me down. Not much, just enough not to kick and scream. I walked out of there still teary – during the actual process of getting the needle, I was practically sobbing – and my face all red. If I didn’t feel so justified in my fear, I might have been embarrassed. I hate crying in public. Not even just in public though, but around even just one person in a private room, I hate crying. I hate crying when anyone can see me. But not as much as I hate needles. God I hate needles.

So as I was sitting in that chair in the doctor’s office, asking him if I really needed to get the needle done, if it was really necessary, he remembered being told the year before that I hate needles. He probably didn’t even need to have been told before, because the fact that I was shaking and almost crying in front of him asking if I really had to get it probably told him that I’m terrified of needles. He almost smiled, in an amused sort of way, when I asked him if I really had to get the blood work. He said, “Why? Do you not like needles?” I think. I’m just paraphrasing, really. If that. He said something, and I think that was it. Anyway, he mentioned how anxious I was acting and said something about how it obviously is a real psychological phobia, like I was telling him. It’s not just a little fear of needles, it’s a psychological, interfering phobia.

He decided to give me a prescription for some anxiety medication – he called them tranquilisers. My mom said my grandma has the same pills, and that they’re addictive. She said I should be careful. Like I really have to try, though. I hate pills, even the ones that make you feel good. Not so much anymore, but I used to be afraid of swallowing pills. Just a little. I don’t really care anymore, but I’m still not fond of pills. Even back when I was still in school and horribly depressed, when I’d taken some Tylenol 1 to ignore my unhappiness, I hated pills. I never actually swallowed those, the Tylenol, because the acetaminophen could kill me. There was this little method of separating the ingredients in it, to isolate the one that makes you kind of loopy and very relaxed. It ended up in part of the pill being dissolved in water, so I never had to swallow an actual pill. I didn’t do that often, because I was afraid of developing a problem, and it also made me very nauseous after about four hours. I think the last time was around my seventeenth birthday. But anyway, I haven’t become addicted to my anxiety pills. I’ve only taken them once, and that was to get through the needle.

I think I might just hate the woman who gave me that needle. Well, not really hate, but I don’t trust her at all. She saw me, drugged and still crying and shaking, while my mom explains that I’m terrified of needles and actually had to take anxiety medication just to be sitting where I was, and she screws up. I couldn’t feel much because of the tranquiliser, but when she stabbed that hole in my vein, I could feel it. More so than the usual quick poke. It’s never been the pain of needles I’m afraid of, I know they don’t hurt, and pain doesn’t really bother me anyway. I don’t really know what exactly it is I’m afraid of, I just know why and that I am. This time, though, it hurt. I could feel the needle inside me, and it hurt. Not at the skin where she’d gone through, but inside where she was. It really hurt.

She took two full vials of blood out of me. I know the blood test is going to come back showing nothing – it never does. Later that day, my arm really started to hurt. I couldn’t move it much, and when I did move it the tiny bit I could, it hurt like hell. Normally when I’m in pain, I don’t say much. I keep it to myself. But this, I bitched about. Probably as a way to say “See? I shouldn’t have gotten that needle!” or something. The next day, my arm still hurts, only now it’s all bruised and swollen. I haven’t had to go get any needles since then, but I can’t even imagine how nervous I’ll be next time. I could probably take two of those tranquiliser pills and bring my mom and still walk out without getting the needle.

The absolute worst way I could die would be because of a needle. I read about this girl who died shortly after getting a vaccine, and that just freaked me out. I remember my dad taking me to get the flu shot once, and I started shaking and stuff while sitting down at the shot station. I stood up before the guy stabbed me though, and walked a bit away. I think I was shaking my head and saying “No”, but I’m not sure. This was a few years ago. I just know I didn’t get the vaccine and my dad was mad at me again. But what if it worked out for me like it did for that poor girl? God I hate needles.

I mean, I understand why I need to get them sometimes, but I still hate them. How could I not, after having a huge one jammed right into my spine when I was a little kid? I swear, that thing had a diameter of over an inch, and was maybe a few inches short of a foot long, the syringe part, and they stuck it right into my spine. I was five, I think, maybe still four, or maybe I was six, and I was being held down by around six full-grown people, while one stuck a huge needle into my spine. The only memory I have of that is one of those out-of-body I-saw-it-from-above type of thing. You know, where you see the whole thing happening below you – you even see yourself. Personally, I think our minds just make that up to pretend we weren’t actually a part of the incident. Maybe it makes trauma easier to deal with, I don’t know. They gave me that needle to see if I had leukemia (I didn’t), and ever since then I’ve hated needles.

Maybe it wasn’t only because of that, but mostly. After I had gotten better and left the hospital, I still had to go back to doctors frequently to get blood work done to make sure I was okay and that I wouldn’t die. They would tell me all the time “Oh it’ll feel just like a mosquito bite! These are special needles!” but I knew they were lying. It never felt like a mosquito bite, and they all felt the same. The normal syringe needles, the tiny butterfly needles – they were all the same. They probably only use the butterfly needles as a placebo. It’s smaller, so it must be less frightening. Doesn’t really work for me.

One time, when I was at the hospital recently, I had to get a needle done because I had all the signs of a urinary tract infection and a kidney infection – neither of which was much fun – and I was being difficult as usual. The nurse was getting really annoyed with me, and she ended up leaving. Another nicer lady came by and took over, putting some kind of topical anesthetic on me – another placebo, I’m guessing. She noticed, on my left arm, that I have a tattoo. A pretty big one. It takes up about half of my upper arm, and it’s full colour. Every time the issue of my hating needles has come up since I got the tattoo, people always have to mention it. “You won’t do this, but you had that done?” You know, that kind of patronising comment. And I always explain that it’s not the same thing. They don’t get it, though. I doubt they really listen.

My arm is still bruised from the needle I got recently. It’s the same arm I have tattooed. I can’t stand that woman. You’d think she would be more careful when working with someone who’s terrified of needles. I’ve never had a needle actually go badly, except for that one. Whatever. She’s sorry now. Maybe she thought it was funny, stabbing someone’s muscle with a needle when she knew they were afraid, but she doesn’t anymore. She’d be afraid of needles, too, if she was still able to be. She knows how much it hurts to have them hit the wrong place. I’m telling you, if she was still working as a nurse, she’d never miss the vein ever again. She knows how much it hurts. And it doesn’t even matter where the needle is going in and which muscle you hit, it still hurts. God, I hate needles.

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