I definitely am afraid of needles. It’s the only thing that actually scares me.
— Elizabeth Holmes *
Just call me pincushion.
Chemo #4 was yesterday and it took 1 hour, 3 nurses, 2 goes at submerging my arms in boiling hot water to make the veins pop out and 4 attempts in total to put the cannula in.
This is a record for me. I inherited the same quality veins as my father, but he would scoff at my record and call me a wuss. His record was seven attempts before the successful insertion of a cannula. I have told the nurses about this at the Zita Mary Clinic, and I may have made them nervous — even though they must insert hundreds of cannulas every week.
Needles don’t scare me; this is a good thing because I’ve had a fair few in the last three months. As a rough estimate my needle count looks like this:
♦ 13 cannula insertions (including the failed attempts)
♦ 8 needles in the stomach (to either promote white blood cell regeneration, or prevent DVT)
♦ 10 blood tests
♦ 5 or 6 other miscellaneous injections for different purposes.
I was given the option of learning how to inject myself with anti-nausea medication if needed; I declined. As I said, needles don’t scare me, but I do not wish to give them to myself … or to anyone else for that matter.
A couple of years ago my husband took our dog to what turned out to be a hippy vet. The result of her investigations lead her to prescribe Lucy a series of anti-inflammatory injections. She then proceeded to show my husband how to give them. He wasn’t overly happy with the prospect, but it was a much cheaper option than taking her back to the vet every day.
This was not a fun task. I had to hold Lucy still while my husband administered the injection. Lucy squirmed constantly and demonstrated her cat-like tendencies by climbing up my shirt and over my shoulder. Eventually, every time I came outside she would run and hide. And I don’t know who the needle hurt more — Lucy, or my husband.
Trypanophobia is the fear of needles and injections. Apparently, about 20% of people who have this phobia (which is both a learned and an inherited condition) avoid medical treatment as a result. Nobody I have ever met enjoys getting a needle, but I know a fair few who break out in a cold sweat at the thought of it. I’m glad I’m not one of them.
What I do have though is an extreme aversion to taking tablets. I can do it, but it takes me forever. I have to psych myself up and then they take ages to go down.
When I was a kid I was prescribed a course of tablets for something; I can’t remember what, but I do remember these tablets seemed HUGE. They just wouldn’t go down, much to my mother’s frustration. After a few days I managed to convince her to leave the room when I was taking them, with a promise I would.
They were too big and floaty to go down the sink, so I ended up hiding them behind the fridge. I did get better without them.
Several months later Mum got Dad to pull the fridge out so she could clean behind it. There was a considerable amount of confusion about what these mould and fluff covered objects were. I have no idea if she ever realised (and to this day I’m too scared to ask).
These days, I no longer hide tablets behind the fridge, but I do whinge and grimace at the size of some of the medication I have to take. And I’m sure some of it scratches the sides of my throat as I struggle to dislodge it with buckets of water so it can continue on its way to do good.
I can handle a big chunky needle — I just don’t understand why some tablets need to be so damn big!
* Just an interesting fact about Elizabeth Holmes: she is the founder and CEO of Theranos, a privately-held blood test company. Fascinating! Blood tests require needles; Ms Holmes is scared of needles.
Or is it only me that finds this amusing? And somewhat ironic.