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Phobias

edited December 2014
Hey guys, so do you have a phobia? Does it cause you problems in life, or is it just like a random fact about you? Has it gotten better or worse? Are you embarrassed of it?

I can't deal with needles (in a medical context, not a sewing one). I can't remember a time when I wasn't totally freaked out about them. Like, I am pretty sure I have never watched a needle actually going into skin in real life or on a screen, unless it surprised me, and then I looked away right away. I can just barely get vaccinations; it's super super hard, but it's over so quick that I can barely manage. I don't think it started because of any specific incident.

It didn't used to be a huge problem because I was healthy as a horse, but as I'm #pushinforty, stuff breaks. Like, all my molars are cracking because I grind my teeth every night (through a mouth guard) so I need to get a bunch of crowns, which means horrifying torture dentist syringe with the metal thumb holes. I had a baby, for fuck's sake, and while I told them where they could stuff their GIANT FUCKING SPINE NEEDLE, they forced me to get an IV saline lock in my hand and it may have been the hardest part of the whole experience. I had to get a boob biopsy, and it was definitely the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my whole life, and even Josh was impressed/horrified at how freaked out I was.

I've been saying for the last few years that I need to do something about this. Like, I don't think that I can actually go through with the next dental or major medical issue that comes up. I have become one of those people who can't take care of themselves. I was thinking of looking into hypnosis, because my mom's best friend had an oral surgeon who cured her dental anxiety through hypnosis, but I couldn't figure out how to tell which hypnotists are legit or not.

I did some google research, and it seems like the only treatment with experimental backing is desensitization therapy (a type of behavioral-conditioning therapy). So I found a therapist who specializes in phobias, and now I have to make a giant list of every possible thing related to needles that freaks me out, then rank them, then start confronting the least scary things with my therapist, until it doesn't freak me out at all. Then I have to move on to the next thing. So, for example, easy things might be seeing someone get their ears pierced, or seeing a syringe on a desk across the room, while hard things will be like going to the blood bank and watching someone give blood, or actually watching while I get a vaccine, or, eventually, getting my overdue crowns done at the dentist.

It seems like you all might find this interesting and want me to write about it as it happens. Yes, no?
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Comments

  • This sounds absolutely fascinating to me and I would love to read more about it!

    I have a young friend who is also terrified of needles, to the point that she will pass out at the hospital if they try to pull one out for any type of medical procedure.

    I personally was pretty scared of fire for most of my life. It was definitely a phobia at a certain point, I have witnessed three house fires in childhood which may very well be the root cause. But I would say I am over it now (building fires in our woodstove daily in the winter time). I still don't like candles, though. I don't mind them when they are in a jar, but a totally open flame is different. I have learned to ignore them, but would never be the type of person who lights a bunch of candles in her room or bathroom.

    (For some reason I will happily light a jack o' lantern, it's like the pumpkin's flesh reassures me).

    Anyway. I am curious about needles and the way they scare people. I am way into acupuncture and I wonder if tiny acupuncture needles could help a person become desensitized. On the other hand, my acupuncturist has told me that it can be really unpleasant to work on a patient who is all like "I just don't like needles".

    Would you consider acupuncture ? Do those needles freak you out?
  • wow, yes, this is very interesting to me and I want to hear all about it!!!! The homework exercise your therapist is working with you on sounds really awesome and smart. Reminds me of that video game therapy they're developing for PTSD soldiers. Also reminds me of that sleep clinic from the NYer article where they cure recurring nightmares by making you fall asleep going over the details of the nightmare in your mind until you finally start lucid dreaming and take control of the nightmare and then you are healed!!

    I too have the question about acupuncture--do those needles freak you out? Seems like they would--they are definitely needles--but they are SO SO SMALL, the most non-threatening needle I can imagine. The size of a horse hair! I wonder if going in for acupuncture specifically with this goal in mind (maybe as you work your way a little further down your list of things to confront) could be good. You could get ONE acupuncture needle put somewhere that freaks you out the least (like, in your knee or something?) and then just sit there with it and look at it and deal with it. I'm not a therapist but that popped into my mind as an idea.

    I don't think I have any phobias. I have sort of normal fears, like I won't go down into the basement to get the laundry at night because there might be an evil ghost down there, which, even though I know none of us believe in ghosts, I still think that is probably very common as a fear. And I have a lot of recurrent obsessive thoughts just about the evil of the world that stress me out, but I don't have anything that makes me feel this thing you describe where my life is limited or I can't take care of myself or get important medical work done, etc. knock on wood

    I was going to suggest hypnosis too, only because I have heard good things about it, but I have no idea how to find a reputable hypnotist. Yelp? But it sounds like you found the perfect therapist to help you through this--I think it is going to work!

    I think breaking down a huge fear like this into all its constituent parts is really smart. WHAT EXACTLY is so scary? Once you identify all those things, it does seem like you will be better able to confront and conquer them. Like remember when I was having recurring zombie nightmares every night and it was really affecting my quality of life, one day Josh said the next time I went to sleep and had the dream, I should ask the zombies what they represent to me, and see what they say. I could never get to a lucid enough dream state to implement his idea but I thought it was a great suggestion--and then years later I read that NYer sleep clinic article and that's basically what they do there!!

    This wouldn't help you overcome your phobia, but I think I have heard about how if you have dental-related anxiety they can put you fully unconscious to do stuff like root canals. Not sure but maybe that would be a way to at least get your teeth dealt with? I mean, I think actually working through your phobia is the healthier long-term option but I'm just saying, if the dental work becomes a pressing need and you still haven't conquered it, I think you can ask them to just knock you all the way out so you wouldn't have to see any needles.

    ??

    Keep us posted!!!!!! Fascinating shit. #pushinforty is definitely also about finally trying to deal with shit that's been holding you back forever, so this is good!

  • edited December 2014
    I like that this is the exact same therapy we are supposed to use to make our dog like children and men with beards. Except she gets liver paste whenever she encounters her triggers.

    Though I know it won't help your phobia to know it, dentist shots are way chill, like the chillest! It's like nothing even happened, though they are awful in appearance.

    I developed my first legitimate phobia after my brother died and I became ceaselessly terrified of an earthquake in Portland. Just cold sweats and racing heart all day at my desk, researching what to do in earthquakes and watching tsunami videos and panicking about being in an unreinforced masonry building on a fault line. I never returned to the oil painting lessons I had already paid for because they were on the fifth floor of a crumbling old brick building. We went to the coast and I downloaded every evacuation map and constantly watched what kind of zone we were in as we drove, sweating profusely whenever we got to red zones and wondering whether we'd be able to scramble up some random hill with the dog in tow.

    All to say: I had no clue how consuming and paralyzing a true phobia could be and I want to hear about you overcoming yours. Mine was certainly anxiety/grief/stress triggered, so it lessens as I continue to deal with that; but in my case, it was mostly time that helped. Does your therapist look for some causative thing, like a bad experience? Or is that not a thing in phobia therapy? I guess needles are a common enough phobia that they may not expect there to be a cause.
  • So, I have tried acupuncture three times.

    The first time was for my Reynaud's syndrome, and the needles were only in my back. It was hard but just barely do-able. I think I went 3 or 4 times. It didn't cure my circulation, which is a bummer, but it didn't traumatize me.

    The second time was when I was pregnant, and my back was so bad I couldn't walk. I was pretty frustrated so I tried acupuncture again, only this time it was so much harder. I was on the edge of panic the whole time, and every time she even touched me with her hand I would flinch. She kind of gave up on my back because she just couldn't get anything done. She tried my hand because she said some sensitive people find it easier, but that might even have been worse.

    The third time was when my OBGYN threatened to induce labor which, hello, is ALL ABOUT needles. I begged a 24-hour window and did everything I could think of to get that baby out, including acupuncture. This time it was only on my face. I think I was so desperate it was ok. That baby came out on his own just before the deadline (good work, Calvin!), so maybe it worked.

    This is a really good idea. I will add it to the list.
  • Oh, and to answer the questions:

    Caused real problems in my life, for sure, though mostly just me losing sleep and hours of my life to stress
    Super embarrassing
    It's getting better!
  • Did you find anything to help with the Raynaud's? The only reason I bought a car was being unable to lock/unlock my bike and having to spend hours in the bath every night after riding home.

    Right now trying:

    much sauna
    therapeutic doses of fish oil based on one study

    There's also that study, I believe military-funded, in which participants hung out outside in their skivvies with their hands and feet soaking in tubs of hot water. They started with 5 times a day and gradually reduced the frequency. Supposedly it had great success, though you'd need to never work and just hang around in your private yard all the time. I can't find the original study, but it's mentioned here.
  • Aha, here
  • Another thing. I think the VERY WORST thing, that will be at the top of the ranked list, is something that has happened to my dad like 7 times (so it feels very real to me).

    His retina detached, and you only have an hour or two to treat it or you will lose your vision. They used to do a major surgery where they broke your eye socket and stapled the back of your eyeball to make it smaller so the retina would press up against it. However, they developed this incredibly clever and minimally-invasive surgery that is way better...but it involves them sticking a needle INTO YOUR EYEBALL.

    They somehow treat you to make the retina and the back of your eyeball chemically sticky. Then they inject an inert gas bubble into your eye, and you have to lie in a position that makes the bubble rise to press the retina against the eyeball. Eventually the gas just dissipates, and you're healed.

    So, cool technique, but max squicky for me.

    One of my exercises will be writing out a worst case scenario needle story over and over again until it stops being so scary. I nominate this scenario.
  • Eek.
    I would also nominate this detached retina scenario. Anything happening into an eyeball sounds awful to me, too. Probably to most other people.

    I forgot about one major debilitating thing I have: FEAR OF BLOOD.
    I don't know how I could possibly forget about it since it is so major. I can handle a little bit of blood, but a certain amount of it trickling makes me super dizzy and I have to sit down and put my head between my knees or I'll pass out. And I have passed out (or puked or both) many times from it before.

    I can't look at bloody scenes in movies.

    I think it has mellowed in adulthood, when I was a kid the smallest drop of blood or taste (like cutting my finger very gently with a butter knife and sucking on it) would make me drop to the floor. Now I have learned to handle myself a little bit better when I am around blood. I have also experienced rushes of adrenalin when someone else is injured and in need of help. I can somehow help the person, or get them help, but as soon as they are safe and sound I sort of collapse.

    Cutting a finger while cooking is always pretty dramatic at my house...



  • I'm scared of spiders, but it's mellowed with age.

    I want to get LASIK but I'm scared of the laser in the eye/the smell of my eyeball burning.

    Also when I'm at the coast I always like to know where the nearest tsunami evacuation spot is because tsunamis are the scariest thing ever. Also the ocean is scary to me.
  • The shark under the stairs is a problem.
  • UGH that retina thing! Jesus!!!!!!! Lets all just hope this does not happen!

    I have heard LASIK has gotten way chill these days, no more burning eyeball smell. When my brother got it he had to lie there fully conscious while they CUT THE SURFACE OF HIS EYE OFF WITH A SCALPEL AND THEN LASERED IT. They don 't do that anymore.

    The only reason I haven't gotten LASIK yet is I'm too old. I finally got enough money to do it and then they said I was too goddamn old

    #pushinforty
    #lasik
    #:(

    I think Freddy the contemplative non-intrusive single acupuncture needle therapy will be great. And writing out the worst case scenario will be great too! That's classic PTSD therapy and I think it works. I think naming shit is how you start taking away its power over you.
  • I'm afraid of so many of these things I can hardly even skim this thread.
  • I've always had a weird fear of balloons.

    Not of the balloons themselves but of the possibility that they pop and make a loud noise. So really I think it's an anxiety - based thing with unexpected surprises. I used to have the exact same feeling with the eye doctor when you have to puff your eye with the air -- it wasn't the actual puff of air that freaked me out, it was the WAITING for the puff of air. YOU DIDN'T KNOW WHEN IT WAS COMING! Anyways, I have balloonophobia.
  • Think of the doctors who have inhaled so much vaped body parts. Pretty weird.
  • WAITING FOR THE PUFF OF AIR! Hear you bro. I think they don't do that any more?
  • I can't think of anything concrete I'm afraid of. What I lack in concrete fears (i.e. heights, spiders, etc.) I make up for in existential angst/fear of intangibles, like failing at life or making the wrong decisions.

    I think I'd prefer the former, honestly, but maybe that's just because I don't experience it.

    I definitely want to hear how your systematic desensitization goes! I know some good people who run the Portland Anxiety Institute, if you (or anyone else) is looking' for a (different) profesh.



  • The eye doctor I go to still puffs.
  • same, I get eye puffs
  • I'd like to open the Seattle chapter of the Portland Anxiety Institute. I worry about you guys sometimes.
  • So something interesting happened. I have had one session with the therapist, in which we mostly just talked about how the therapy works, my history with this phobia, and started on the list of scary things. Nothing so in-depth that I would have expected any therapeutic benefit yet.

    After that one session, though, I suddenly felt a quantum leap in my ability to handle needles. Even being able to talk about the session with people - which necessitates an awful lot of Needle Talk - got easier. Maybe it's that I now see an actual benefit to confronting my fears, and/or maybe the psychological benefit of knowing that I have a proven strategy on my side? Not sure. But for example I took my cat to the vet with Calvin, and I asked if we could watch them draw blood. Part of that was wanting to model scientific curiosity for Calvin, but I also saw it as a challenge I could handle. And I could! I didn't like it, but I was actually able to watch them put the needle in and draw out the blood, which would have been completely impossible in the past.

    Yay, therapy!
  • edited December 2014
    Dude, it's so real! Talking about shit is the first step to breaking its power over you. The more you talk about something and name it and describe it the less like an overwhelming supernatural force it seems and the more mundane it appears.

    awhile ago somebody wrote to my advice column about this horrible thing that happened to them that they'd been too scared to talk about with anyone, and it was causing nightmares and anguish, and then it was like literally just the act of writing to me (not even reading my response) totally broke the thing's power over them and they were suddenly fine and able to talk to everyone about it. It was like "oh wait, actually this thing is more just mildly emo rather than earth-shatteringly awful"

    KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

    I'm so stoked for you! Must feel so good to feel such a powerful change so quickly. You'll be jamming needles in you every which way in no time!!!!!

    Also I love "modeling scientific curiosity for Calvin"
  • edited December 2014
    Great achievement Freddy! Thanks for sharing. Very inspiring.

    The therapy breakthrough for me was realizing that friendships were not always the best venues for looking critically at personal crap. Hey, people go to college for this stuff! Why not benefit from someone with training? And anyway, why not do something more fun with my friends? (Which is kind of a lie because there's nothing more fun than talking about myself but it gets awkward when you do it with a friend because they are likely to think it's an invitation to talk about themselves too and really.. who has time for that?)
  • When I went to see Interstellar last night I had a mini panic attack when Coop went through his weirdest experience (trying not to spoil here). Literally had to think to myself "it's just a movie, it's just a movie" to calm down. My phobia is basically "bad trips," which includes thinking about what the experience of death will be like (starting to feel anxiety writing this). I'm also very weirded out by surgery and being put under.
  • I'm also always thinking that I'm about to have a stroke.
  • diane, do you often feel like you're about to have a stroke? Or is this a new thing? If the latter, GO TO THE DOCTOR. https://medium.com/@dihard/bad-year-for-boars-5f04bc185f4c
  • edited January 2015
    I had a left arm thing once and got myself all worked up about having a heart attack. I felt woozy and got somebody to take me to the emergency room. Three hours later it was determined that I had not had a heart attack.

    A few days later I saw my doctor and we figured out that it was carpal tunnel syndrome bought on by pinched nerves through my armpits brought on by total ignorance about basic computer work station ergonomics. I had a few sessions with a physical therapist, learned some basic principles of screen and keyboard placement, proper posture and stretching exercises and have greatly improved my quality of life.

    It gets better! The hippies know some stuff!

    (Maybe you can be helped.)

    Also, as a humorous aside, based on various circumstantial evidence, I spent most days from age 39-45, pretty sure that death was just around the corner for me. Turns out I was totally wrong! Now I'm so fucking old I don't give a shit any more!

    So... Cheer up!
  • edited January 2015
    flossy, I'm pretty sure it's all in my head. It's way milder than in that article, closer to the people with anxiety in my link. Side note, I'm Internet friends with the lady who wrote that :)
  • I knew that! She is the ex-girlfriend of my ex-boyfriend's best friend.
  • THE PLOT THICKENS!
  • I had my second session. We finished my list of stuff that stresses me out about needles, and turned that into homework ("exposure") ideas. Then I put that list in order of easiest to hardest, and now I have to spend 15 - 30 minutes every day doing these things.

    It's not that much fun! It means every day I have to do something that upsets me. Just now I was watching YouTube videos of people getting piercings, and while I would have said my anxiety wasn't very high, I had to stop a little early because I felt dizzy and nauseous. Bleaugh.
  • Nice work, Freddy, that's huge!
    The idea that you are at least partially prompted to do this for your kid is awesome.
    I think shedding fears so that you can be more available to the people you love is excellent. I have been a bit lazy with that. I mean, I force myself to be ok around blood just because if there are injuries I might be required to help.

    But I am also scared of cars. Like, A LOT. And if it was only up to the people around me who are annoyed by it, I would constantly be driving up and down I-5, visiting in-laws, and buying my groceries at Costco like a normal person.

    (Unfortunately all of that fails to convince me that knowing how to drive would be fun, or even useful.)
  • About ten years ago I quit poking forkholes into potatoes when I put them in the microwave.

    I have never seen one blow up.

    Ticking time bomb of my life #448.
  • Another day, another therapy session...this time my therapist gave me a straight-up syringe, y'all. It's in a sealed package. I have to carry it around in my purse so I will have dozens of casual chances to deal with it every day. I hope none of my clients see it by accident...kind of hard to explain.
  • Wow, WHAT a great idea!!!!!!! this therapist sounds incredible!!

    how's it going?
  • It's going well. Slowly, since my schedule makes it hard to see her.

    So far I have done the following homework:
    - Watch a tattoo reality show
    - Write the words "syringe" and "needle" over and over again
    - Watch ear piercing videos
    - Watch tragus piercing videos

    Currently working on:
    - Handling the aforementioned syringe
    - Watching how-to videos for giving vaccinations

    I am supposed to do homework every day, but I have been having trouble making it happen. So I set up a Beeminder commitment to do 10 minutes a day or else they'll charge my credit card $5 and email my therapist.
  • ha ha we have friends who are best friends with the people who invented Beeminder. I will tell them it is being used in this therapeutic way!

    are your ears pierced? If so, how did that happen, or did you do it so young than your phobia had not settled in yet? I can't even remember getting mine done, it was so long ago. Isn't that a weird thing we all do in childhood??

    Watching videos is such a cool tool in this circumstance. Isn't it lucky that you can access all these videos that will help inure you to all these different aspects of needles! Tattoo reality show is so funny but such a great idea. Next up: GET a tattoo

  • I just got in on this thread- so proud of you for facing your phobia, Fred! FWIW my mom is a very legit hypnotherapist and she does Skype sessions.

  • I am amazed, you are doing so much progress so quickly!
    THIS IS HUGE! Congratulations.

    I am seeing a lot of the acupuncturist these days for reasons similar to your own. Except I am just not scared of needles. I do bleed a little bit, though. Only on my forehead and foot, always the same exact points. I have gotten much better at ignoring the blood over the years.
  • You guys, I'm making really good progress. I can watch videos and photos of people getting vaccinations and acupuncture with minimal anxiety. All the antivaxxer news is giving me fantastic opportunities to stumble upon images of people getting shots, which is great. I'm unfazed. My therapist tells me I'm halfway there. And I haven't missed a single day since I signed up for Beeminder.

    So anyway, I have some more homework assignments, and I need your help.

    1. Please tell me stories about your very worst experiences with needles, in any context. The only (important) ground rule is: please no reassuring or minimizing language (e.g. "but it really didn't hurt that bad in the end") - just the details of what happened.

    2. If you are going to get a tattoo, or piercing, or dental work, or donate blood, and you'd be open to me tagging along, would you let me know? My schedule is kind of crazy so I may or may not be able to take you up on the offer, but I'd be very grateful for the invitation.
  • this is so cool! I'm fascinated!!!

    I don't like medical.... interventions into my body. Generally a normal shot is ok, but anything beyond standard poking/prodding is not cool with me.
    Once I had an awful flu and had to go to the ER for high fever and dehydration. The whole point of going was to get back into a safe zone, and the only way to do this was to get an IV, but I'd never had one before and actually tried to kick the doctor when he put it in. Then, after a while, I felt way better, but I couldn't look at it.
    ~the end~
  • edited February 2015
    When I was in high school I got pretty sick once and fainted in the bathroom and my mom found me laying there and claims I was twitching. So we went straight to the ER and because she's a nurse the doctor took her very seriously when she said the words "grand mal seizure" (I'm still not so sure about her diagnosis). However, because she said these magic words I got the amazing experience of a spinal tap!

    Step one. The doctor comes in and tells you that he needs to put a needle in-between two of your vertebrae and suck out some spinal fluid to test you for epilepsy. He explains you need to be awake for the process so no anesthesia will be used except for a bit of topical on the skin. He tells you very seriously and very slowly that you MUST NOT move during the process or the needle can hit an important nerve and Very Bad Things will result.

    Step two. You curl up into a fetal position on the exam table, curling your spine to separate the vertebrae enough to make a space for him to insert the needle. He explains as he wipes on the topical ointment that you MUST NOT straighten your back during the procedure or the vertebrae will clamp down on the needle and Very Bad Things will result.

    Step three. Just before the lumbar puncture procedure begins, he mentions almost offhand that the only way he will know if he is near a nerve is if you feel arms or legs tingle or go numb so if this happens make sure to let him know. The needle itself looks like something the torture droid used on Princess Leia. (WARNING: That link is NOT Star Wars themed.) If you aren't terrified by now, then this is where you break into a cold sweat and pee yourself a little.

    Step four. Shit is happening. Everything is going on behind you. Things are being unwrapped and organized for a bit then a couple seconds of dead silence followed by a "okay, you'll feel a little pressure now". (You fantasize about saying those same words back to him as your fingers close around his windpipe.) Because of the topical anesthetic you feel the needle slide in without much pain, but the pressure from inside your spine is alien and scary. Almost immediately your entire right leg goes completely numb and you start to jerk away but the nurse and the doc are way too quick for you and sort of fall on top to immobilize you. Then you remember about Very Bad Things and let him know that you can't feel your leg. He makes a small correction and now your leg just tingles a bit.

    Step five. The needle stays in there approximately four years as they draw a sample. Your other leg starts tingling very intensely toward the end, but this time you remember not to move and let him know in a high-pitched, sobbing voice that your leg feels like it is asleep. He doesn't seem too concerned this time, saying "mmmhmm" as the needle is slowly retracted and finally, blissfully, is pulled clear of your spine.

    Step six: You are told you don't have epilepsy. And isn't that good news?!

    TL;DR Having a RN for a mom sometimes backfires in a big way.
  • I'm not sure Freddy should read that!
  • OMG! Mom would owe me for life.
  • That's a good one, FaceTweetPlus. Thanks.
  • GNAR
    Jesus christ!!!!!

    If anyone on here had an epidural during childbirth that would be a good one for Fred.

    I will tell needle stories but nothing is going to top FaceTweet I think.

    I have had lots of needles. I grew up having oral surgery more regularly than perhaps is normal, and I broke my jaw, and other stuff. Needles have never bothered me but two experiences were sort of gross:

    - the first time I gave blood the nurse couldn't find my vein and was just jabbing me all over the place. I was watching her stick the needle in and little drops of blood coming out and then she'd go "oops" or "damn" or something and jab it in elsewhere. It was mildly upsetting because for me the initial jab is the only really gnarly part and once the needle is in, I can just sit there and take it, so this was just jab after jab! Finally she got it in but then said I could only fill up a child-sized bag because my blood pressure is so low or something? The whole experience was deflating (LOL)

    - I blogged about this but maybe you chose not to read it because of your phobia, so here it is again: when I got my fluoroscopy to diagnose how badly the cartilage in my hip is worn away by dysplasia, that was by far the biggest, longest, most long-term-inside-my-body needle I have ever dealt with and it was fairly intense. You lie on a table with just a sheet covering you. There are all kinds of machines and screens and big metal arms above you--it's like that part in the Exorcist (oooh, you could watch that scene in the Exorcist when she gets the crazy shunt put in her neck and blood jets out in pulses and she's crying--very upsetting).

    The doctor (who is talking nonstop about Beowulf) uses a paper clip taped to a tongue depressor (which I LOVE, this high tech world but sometimes even they are like, real talk, this paperclip does the job just fine) to find the exact spot on your hip where the needle needs to go. She pokes around your hip with the paperclip while looking up at the big screen hanging over you, which shows YOUR OWN SKELETON from the waist down. It is fucking unnerving. In my opinion they ought to put the screen where the patient can't see it but I am not good at advocating for myself in these situations and also I guess you should just shut your eyes if you don't like it, but I found it VERY hard to look away. so I just lay there, mesmerized by it.

    Once she finds the right spot on your hip--the needle has to go DIRECTLY INTO YOUR HIP JOINT, all the way inside of it, at which point it pours fluorescent dye into your whole hip joint and socket--she marks it with a permanent marker. Then she wheels over a tray that you can't see but you can tell there are tons of disturbing instruments on it. She explains what is going to happen--she shows you the needle, which I also would have preferred not to see, because it was cartoonishly big, I can't even describe it. It was so long and so THICK. It was really horrible--she says she's going to first give you a shot with a normal needle to anesthetize your whole hip basically. Then she says she's going to jab you with this huge-ass needle and you'll "probably feel some pressure" and that it "will be uncomfortable." When a doctor tells you it's going to be "uncomfortable" you know to fucking brace yourself!!!

    So first she does the anesthetic, and even that was kind of intense, the most intense anesthetic shot I've ever had--it seems like it was in there forever, and I could FEEL the cold liquid shooting into my muscle. It was gross and took forever.

    Then she starts going for it with the big needle. It takes SO LONG to get where it's supposed to be. The needle just keeps pushing and pushing and pushing. You are gripping the sides of the table and your eyes are wide and you're sort of clammy and sweaty. Meanwhile you're still mesmerized by the screen above your face--which the doctor, unnervingly, is also looking at, rather than looking down at the needle she's pushing seemingly into the very center of your body--on the screen you can SEE this huge needle (which is attached to this equally-alarming-looking big clamp thing that's like sticking to the outside of your hip, you can feel its weight sort of pulling the needle down inside of you, which is gross), sticking across your whole hip, inside of you, and going right into your poor little hip joint. It's upsetting but hard not to watch.

    Then the needle is finally in there, and it is just truly an uncomfortable feeling. It doesn't exactly "hurt," although there are elements of pain. But it's more like, this huge foreign thing is inside you, and you can feel it all the way in there--from the outside of your skin into your deepest secret inside of your bone, where not even you have ever dared to tread--and there's a lot of pressure, and even the tiniest, tiniest jiggle of the needle sends twangs through your hip joint and shivers up and down your spine. And part of what's stressful I think is that you're IMAGINING, and preparing yourself for, something that probably won't happen but if it did happen would be really awful--the doctor tripping and falling and landing right on the needle, or an earthquake, or something, in which case the needle would just go wildly shaking all the way inside your bone and maybe you would have a heart attack because it was so upsetting/painful!!

    Anyway, the needle is in there forever, and on the screen you can SEE THE DYE as it comes out and floats around your whole leg. The doctor keeps squirting more and more dye. She says "you'll feel your leg getting full of liquid--tell me if it feels too full" and you're like, how will I know what that feels like???? Jesus Christ! Meanwhile she is still talking in great detail about translation issues with Beowulf and how she likes Seamus Heaney's version because it's in verse. And you are like "yeah I heard Tolkien's is good though too"

    Finally she takes the needle out and puts a huge bandaid on your hip and then you get in a wheelchair and go have an MRI. The MRI is very peaceful after what you've been through and you basically just fall into a meditative state, wearing the big protective earphones.

    The whole night and next day the hip joint is VERY sore and you drag yourself around like a sick dog.

    Other needle stuff: I have had lots of shots in my mouth, and they don't feel like a big deal--not nearly as big a deal as the hip joint thing. There's like a little sting and it's mostly sort of gross. The way more upsetting part of getting dental work done is the sounds and smells of your teeth being drilled and crunched or whatever--the shots for me don't seem like the bad part. Not sure if that is helpful.

    Not sure if this counts as a needle but when I got my horrible arm wound it was gross having it stitched up, because the wound went almost all the way to the bone, and so they had to do layers of stitches--first the doc stitched my muscle back together, then the fat (?? not sure this is true, can you stitch fat?) and then finally the skin. The muscle stitching was SO SICK, feeling this sort of pulling and tugging of the needle/thread way deeper inside your arm than is natural. It was really gross. Again, there was no pain at all, but just a feeling of I guess INVASION, like something wrong is happening inside your body, which is in fact the case.

    GO FREDDY! YOU CAN DO IT


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