Needles

This post is not about overcoming fear.

Given the number of times I’ve had my ears pierced, this might come as a surprise but: I am scared of needles. It’s not a debilitating fear; I keep it together pretty well in doctor’s offices. I always just stare at the wall, concentrate on my own breathing, and don’t look at the needle or the person using it. I’ve even managed to donate blood a few times. So basically, I’m scared but I deal with it. Like a grown-up.

The morning of my surgery (almost two months ago now), the anesthesiologist obviously had to put a needle in me. It didn’t go so well. I was busy not looking when he said, “Well, that won’t work,” and then I made the mistake of looking and saw the blood running down my arm. Oh my god. I must have made a noise because suddenly the anesthesiologist and nurse were both like, “Are you okay? Are you going to faint? Are you fainting?” And I was like, “Stop dithering I’m not fainting fix my fucking arm oh my god.”

But it was okay; he patched me up and decided to put a needle in my hand instead, which went perfectly fine, and then the surgery went well and I was discharged from the hospital and yay no more needles.

(Warning: plot twist ahead.)

A week after my knee surgery I went back to the doctor for my post-op appointment and when I told her about the pain in my calf she made a face. One of those doctor-faces that basically says, “I’m kind of worried but not going to let on until we run more tests.” Long story short, 3 hours and a cold ultrasound later they found three blood clots in my leg. Totally unexpected, very rare for someone my age, etc. Everyone instantly reassured me that everything would be fine, so glad we caught it, it’s just some drugs and then I’m back to normal. It’s just some pills, some blood thinners I would need to take every day. Everything’s fine.

Oh, plus these self-injections every day until the blood thinners kick in. No big deal, just jab yourself in the stomach with a needle once day. (Or maybe twice a day if, for instance, your pharmacy is out of the first brand of injection and you have to get switched to the second brand which needs to be re-upped every 12 hours. For instance.) No big deal.

I couldn’t do it.

Thinking about it now, with all of the needles in the other room, I still get a little wobbly. Especially after the blood-running-down-my-arm incident prior to the surgery, the idea of going after myself with needles—even simple can’t-mess-this-up needles—fills me with a horrible dread. I almost broke down in the doctor’s office when she told me I’d have to do this.

Lucky for me, my boyfriend is a complete badass. He gave me my shots twice a day, while I held my hands over my eyes like a child. Two weeks later, he celebrated with me when the blood thinner pills kicked in and we could end the shots. And then, last week, when my blood test came back Not Good Enough, he was there again to start giving me the shots again.

This isn’t a story about me overcoming my fear of needles, but I guess it’s a story about facing the fear, and trusting someone enough to take care of me when I can’t take care of myself. Like I said, I’m lucky.

I’m due for another shot in half an hour. It’s something I have to both psych myself up for and try to ignore.

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