I definitely am afraid of needles. It’s the only thing that actually scares me.

— Elizabeth Holmes *

ID-100435812 needles
Image courtesy of nikonlike at

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!

ID-10031507 tablets
I don’t understand why all tablets can’t be the size of the tiny yellow one. And why do they make them so pretty? (Image courtesy of nuchylee at

* 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.


5 thoughts on “needles

  1. Injections!! Medication!! Tablets!!
    Pardon the pun ……. but what a pain!!!!
    The only fact that the above mentioned procedures have been tolerated by me in the past is that they help investigate and treat scientifically ailments in my body that influence the quality of my physical life.
    My opinion is ‘Why fight them?
    If they be the music of life, play on!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When Megan was 11 she broke her arm while we were on holiday in New Zealand. The only way we could get her to swallow the pain killers was to crush them up with honey. She now swallow tablets perfectly well but can’t stand the taste of honey.


      1. I’m afraid that there’s no good ‘sugar-coating the pill’, although it can be very tempting to get the patient to swallow the pill by whatever means we think appropriate.
        I rather like this Audrey Hepburn quote:
        Nothing is impossible,
        The word itself says
        ‘I’m possible.’


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