Dixie Peach: At least it keeps me from being a heroin addict

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

At least it keeps me from being a heroin addict

While reading Camille's blog I came across a brief story and photo that speaks of a child getting some bloodwork and how hurt she was over it and it served to remind me of my own needle phobia. I had a similiar situation occur when I was five years old. I was sick with something or other and heard the doctor tell my mother to take me down to the lab and have them give me a blood test. I didn't understand that getting a blood test wasn't like when I'd seen my mother have her blood pressure taken and so when a needle was shoved into my arm I howled like a banshee and was quite pissed off about it to boot.

I am forty-three years old and I don't think I am ever going to outgrow my fear of needles. Of course this really not good when you're a diabetic on top of it all. Daily insertion of needles is required although I cheat and only take blood from my ear. I try to get it from a finger but every time I do I spend a half hour talking myself into it, screech when finally manage it and then pout like a moody Siamese cat for the rest of the day.

My doctor, a woman who truly cares for me and my family and who not only makes housecalls but has made a housecall on a holiday when my husband was very sick, must nearly bite her tounge in half when she has to take blood from me. She begins to the the needle and tubes out and I begin my show. Shallow, rapid breathing, panicky look in my eye like a cornered rat, feet tapping - everything I shouldn't do if I want to make this as painless as possible. She tries all the tricks. Distraction. Soothing words to get me to calm down. Reminding me that my clenching up and freaking out will only make the vein collapse and she'll have to stab me again. Finally she gets down to oh-hell-let's-just-do-it mode, inserts the needle and hopes for the best. Luckily she's good at this and rarely has to do it twice. I'm not easy to find a good vein on anyway, panic or no panic.

When I was hospitalized two years ago for surgery I was blessed with a wonderful nursing staff. Naturally I was the only American at that particular station and became an instant celebrity. And within minutes of my check-in and the beginning of the routine tests they'd do before surgery I became famous for being a complete pain in the ass to deal with needle-wise. Getting five vials of blood from me took three nurses and a lot of sweet talk to accomplish and they ended up putting a canula in my hand as they'd run out of viable veins for use at my CT scan scheduled for the next day. The day of my surgery went much more smoothly in the needle department as they had given me an injection of tranquilizer not long after they woke me that morning (I can't remember how they managed to put that off) and during my recovery time (this is Germany, remember - no in-and-out hospitalizations here - they'll keep you five days for just having your gallbladder removed), they resorted to getting little pipette of blood from my ear for any further blood work.

But my wonderful nurses had nothing up their sleeves to get around the daily song and dance we'd have to go through when it was time for me to have my daily anti-thrombosis injection. This would normally be done in my belly but since I had a six inch incision there it had to be given to me on my thighs.

If you've never had one of these injections let me just say that they burn like hellfire. I can only compare it to having battery acid introduced to your bloodstream.

For the two weeks I was hospitalized it became a badge of pride for the nurses to be able to give me this daily injection and having me pronounce the experience to be "not bad". Even then I'd still entertain them with welling eyes and my shallow, rapid breathing schtick.

Even my sister, who has been a nurse for nearly thirty years, hates to deal with me when it comes to needles. She's spent her nursing career giving injections, taking blood, stitching people up, starting IVs and she'd rather deal with a hundred crying kids than do anything to me that involves a needle. You can hold down a crying five year old. I'm not so easy. Plus she just doesn't like the idea of having to hurt her sister. Except for all those times she's whacked me for meddling in her stuff. I mean in the past...she doesn't whack me now. Much.

I can, however, unexplainable as it may be, take a flu shot without so much as a whimper. Every fall when it's flu shot season I eagerly roll up my sleeve. It may have something to do with me still having a clear memory of how god-awful sick and hurting I was the last time I had the flu and me knowing that even if my doctor used a sharpened popsicle stick to give me the injection, it still wouldn't hurt as much as having the flu for real.

That and fact that if I sit still she'll give me a lolly for being a good girl.


Blogger Kirsti said...

Hmm. Perhaps you just need to get anyone to tell you that whatever they're injecting you with is a flu shot, or a booster for your flu shot...

And I suppose it's hard to knit while they're holding your arm down, otherwise you could distract yourself with that. Or stab 'em with the knitting needles. :D

8:32 PM  
Blogger Beege said...

I hated needles, too, until I got pregnant. Needles are everywhere then. You can't do ANYTHING without someone wanting to stick you. The first couple of times the only way I got through it was thinking, "It's for my baby, it's for my baby, it's for my baby, it's for my baby, it's for my baby...", then with the gestational diabetes I got REALLY comfortable stabbing myself (really), so that by the time I actually had to give birth it was like, "Which arm do you want?" it was no big deal.

That being said: I think I may have lost my pregnancy-induced immunity to needles and no matter WHAT I'm glad they didn't show me the epidural needle until AFTER that sucker was in. That thing was HUGE. And I never, ever got over my wanting a sticker for being brave.

7:18 PM  
Blogger BarefootCajun said...

I was the same way until I had my bout with uterine cancer. I had so many "pokes" (as Tyler calls them) that I became immune to the whole thing. I'll now give blood voluntarily, without flinching. :-)

7:33 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home