When I was a very young child, I remember going to the local recreation center to be vaccinated. Those times were some of the most frightening experiences I can remember as a child. It was the dread of knowing why you were there, followed by a seemingly-endless waiting period to hear your name being called.
The reason I hated being vaccinated is because a nurse struck a nerve in my arm when she was giving one of the shots. I couldn’t have been more than single-digits in age, which resulted in a vivid experience that deeply scarred over my understanding of vaccinations and blood draws; stemming from a lightning-hot moment of pain I encountered at a tender age.
The fear of needles carried well into my childhood and adolescent years. A memorable moment involved the requirement of 5 nurses to hold me down for a vaccination. Yes, five. I fought to the tearful end.
Today, I had to make my annual trip to the doctor and complete lab work involving blood tests. The doctor remembered me because I intentionally no-showed my prior year’s lab appointment to avoid the needle. This time, I set the intention of getting the lab work done and over with, to the dismay of my childhood fear.
I was alarmed at how deeply-rooted this fear was. It stayed with me from the moment I booked the appointment and knew the seconds were counting down until the moment arrived where I’d have a needle in my vein.
Over the weekend, I realized that I carry more mental tools to handle my fears than I did as a child. It was life-giving to realize how much control I now have over my thoughts and fears.
I’ve found sharing my fears/thoughts with others is a healthy way to heal. There’s something really refreshing in knowing I’m not alone to face my problems.
In this instance, I found loving support through conversation and empathy from my friends, family, and co-workers.
While this sounds like a bit much for a needle phobia, the lesson taught me an important lesson about how capable I am of handling fears, as an adult and the value of being vulnerable.
Rather than covering them up and pretending they don’t exist (they do.) I found it helpful to carry this fear with the help of those that love me. The result was a fantastic doctor’s appointment, a clean bill of health, and 364 days until the ordeal repeats itself.