Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Needle Phobia

I've been wondering how many people want to be vaccinated, but their extreme fear of needles is preventing them from getting the shot (or two).

I'll never forget finally mustering up the courage to go see a fertility doctor after two years of trying to get pregnant without medical intervention. We met with the doctor, went over our data and history, and she recommended IVF. But, she said, we could try IUI first if we wanted. She just said our best chances would be with IVF. 

Terrified, absolutely terrified of IVF, I said I wanted to try IUI first.

She said okay and began telling me about the medication I would be injecting.

Cue me losing my shit in her office.

Injecting? A shot?? I have to give myself shots?? I wasn't yelling, but the terror in my voice and the tears streaming down my face were unmistakable. And by the look on my doctor's face, I could tell she was surprised by my strong reaction.

She didn't know she needed to wade gently into the idea of a medicated IUI with injectables with me. She did not know who she was dealing with. (Have I mentioned before that I hate medical stuff and I'm a very nervous patient? Yes, yes I have. Many times. But it's worth repeating... I *hate* medical appointments, hospitals, and even the simple smell of rubbing alcohol.) 

My doctor wasn't forewarned; she had no way of knowing. She quickly backtracked into comforting me before moving forward. She downplayed the whole experience, saying how small the needles were and how it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Bless her. She tried. 

I knew I didn't have a choice. Well, we always have a choice. But I knew how badly I wanted to have a baby and I knew I would be giving myself shots in order to try and get pregnant. In that moment I was so angry. I was so scared. 

I had no idea how I was going to get through it.

Long story short, I faced my fears and gave myself a shot. Over the next six months, I gave myself many, many, many shots. I went through five medicated cycles (3 IUIs, 2 IVFs) and I hated every second of it. But I wanted to have a baby and that's how strong that drive can be. Even my extreme needle phobia couldn't stop my pursuit to get pregnant.

It just makes me wonder about people getting vaccinated during the pandemic. No matter how badly someone wants to be vaccinated, there can still be that irrational, but very real and very huge fear of needles preventing some people from getting injected.

I know going through IVF fundamentally changed me. When the first vaccine clinic came to my county, I signed up as soon as I could. If I hadn't already been through IVF, I don't think I would have had the courage to do that. I'd like to think that I could find the courage to voluntarily get a shot, but I wonder if I could... Had I not been through what I survived.

It has just been on my mind. There are probably people who really want to be vaccinated, but their fear of needles is getting in the way. I empathize. I know what it's like to have needle phobia. I know what it's like to be angry and scared.

I'm also grateful for my hard-earned fortitude.


"I don't run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it 
because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot." -Nadia Comaneci



4 comments:

  1. A very timely Olympic quote and pic. I have at times felt like Nadia Comaneci - running towards the fear (ballooning, chairing a company for eg) - but at times I have definitely NOT (claustrophobia, fear of heights, for eg)! A needle phobia isn't my issue. But you can see I have other issues. lol

    I'm glad that all those medicated cycles gave you the ability to go get your vaccine straight away - to face the fear and do it anyway. Good for you.

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    1. I love that quote of hers. And I had to pair it with a picture of her vaulting! :)

      I'm not the person I was pre-IVF. I'll never like needles, but (as a former needle phobic person) I can deal with them in a way now that I never thought was possible. I'm thankful to be vaccinated and protected from the worst of covid-19. It's a nasty virus.

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  2. Hard-earned fortitude, yes! I remember being shocked that I would suddenly be responsible for mixing and injecting medication myself, and then equally shocked at how quickly I adjusted to that new reality. Although I always need Bryce to do the intramuscular PIO shots, that needle was just too much. I can understand a needle phobia making it harder to screw up courage to get a vaccine, but I am also thinking no vaccine is more likely to result in more needles, IVs, ventilators... The Delta variant in particular makes me so nervous for the unvaccinated.

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    1. That was the most shocking part to me! That I was expected to become a nurse for myself at home by myself. They sent me home with handouts and access to injection videos online. It was awful. I hate to overuse the word traumatic but that is definitely how it felt to me at the time.

      And good point! Get injected now with the vaccine or endure IVs and blood draws and being on oxygen later... :(

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