Many people do not like needles. I mean how many people can say they actually like them right? But now a needle phobia is quite something else. In fact apparently needle phobias effect one in ten people!
So I thought I would share my journey, maybe it will resonate with someone, or help others understand. I maybe even you have some help and advice for me!
In the Beginning
I am not wholly sure where my needle phobia developed from, I guess that would make it easier to tackle it. I do remember that I had all my immunisations (apart from whooping cough but that’s another story) and only really remember rubella (where the nurse hurt me and I believe had to try twice to put the needle in!) and the TB test (which thankfully resulted in me not needing a “proper” needle).
Then there was the time in my life where they just kept doing blood tests on me “to see what was wrong.” I had loads and loads of them – and the ruled out things like anaemia. I get tired so easily you see. They never did find what they were looking for – and hence even more tests. They would make me pass out and I remember often just lying on the seating area in the waiting room and being carried back home again. Apparently a lot of needle phobias come from having to have a lot of blood tests as a child and feeling faint!
But as much as I didn’t like all this I was able to do it and I am not really sure where the switch happened. When I was pregnant with my eldest I don’t recall avoiding any of the blood tests but did opt for no needles in my birth plan (apart from the one to help the placenta along and the one for my son; vitamin K I think it was). Again I took him for all his immunisations.
I think maybe something happened when my mother died. It kicked off a whole load of stuff I just wasn’t able to cope with. She had had abnormal bleeding, and after fighting breast cancer was worried she had cervical cancer. It turned out she just had a polyp, but unfortunately its removal went wrong and it ultimately lead to her death. It was not long after this I had the results of my abnormal smear.
The Abnormal Smear First Consultation
The whole situation about my smear test result is a bit of a blur now, and I may get my facts wrong. As I say it was just after I lost my mom; I was only 20 years old. I remember going to the hospital to discuss whatever and was face to face with my mom’s consultant. Needless to say I didn’t go back!
In fact I ignore it for years. I am not even sure what caused me to ever do anything about it. I didn’t even live in the same city any more. Sure enough my abnormal cells have got worse and I needed them removing. Lucky my best friend of the time was studying cancer at university and she explained things to me – and it is from this point on I remember being frightened of needles. Again though I managed to have the needles required for the various treatments.
From then on in though I got worse. My second child again I am pretty sure I had all the necessary blood tests but when it came to the birth they forced me from my home birth to the hospital saying I would be asking for drugs which they couldn’t give me. It is then I remember explaining that I wouldn’t because I had a needle phobia. They left us little choice though and I had to go into the hospital.
By the third pregnancy I was having gas and air for the blood tests, lying on a bed, with magic cream, my husband stroking my head and music to help keep my calm. The fourth pregnancy I knew which blood tests were absolutely necessary and literally had a blood test in early stages of labour when he was born at 35 weeks.
I never took any of my younger three children for their immunisations, my husband did. Even whilst they had them I struggled with panic attacks, breathing and was crying my eyes out.
Recognising I had a needle phobia
Before I got pregnant with our third son I had to go into hospital and have a polyp removed. You will remember from above that this is how my mom tragically died (it is a routine operation by the way, with minimal risk). I kept bleeding and it needed to be done, especially as it could turn cancerous. I think they let me go in first that morning because I was hysterical. They agreed to knock me out before inserting the cannula and removing it before I came round properly (although I had to also agree that it would need to be immediately inserted if I was sick). Honestly this is really dangerous and they only agreed because I was such a state.
Then at the birth of my fourth son they said that I had been pushing for too long and needed to do something. All the options required using a needle of some kind. I was so upset and my legs were shaking like crazy. I remember so many people being around and they just did not know what to do. In the end they agreed to use forceps with gas and air (also not recommended). The paediatrician (or whoever the very important doctor lady at my birth was) told me that I had a needle phobia (well I had been trying to tell people that!) and that I had to speak to my doctor about it.
Problems having a Needle Phobia
Having a needle phobia has caused me many problems. When our youngest was born he needed lots of needles and often ended up alone with a stranger to have bloods. One midwife even had a go at me. It was awful. Luckily his cannula was all wrapped up to help prevent him pulling it out – it even being there made me feel ill. I had to be with him as I was breast-feeding him (and what mother doesn’t want to be with her ill child).
Which brings me on to when our third son broke his arm. He was four years old and needed an operation. Of course this involved putting him to sleep with a general anesthetic by needle (I am presuming). I had to leave him at the hospital with his dad overnight because they weren’t sure when he would go down to theater. A lesser situation was when one of the children needed a needle at the dentist and their older brother had to go in with them for me! Often these things have to be arranged around my husband being able to get out of work! I am sure there have been many more occasions – and it has definitely had some influence on our holiday destinations.
Help with My Needle Phobia
I did go and see a doctor to get help with my needle phobia and they referred me to an online programme. Needless to say this did nothing. I had got to the point where even pictures of needles triggered me – and I certainly couldn’t watch them on films. Then I finally was referred for counselling – but by the time I had them I had so many bigger issues to discuss that the needle phobia never got a look in (and then of course they ran out).
Ways for Coping with Facing Needle Phobias
Some things trigger my needle phobia more than others, for example actually having blood taken is highest, then an injection (which is quicker), but down to them being in the room, to seeing them on tv, to even thinking about them!
I have tried breathing techniques and they do work up to a point in situations where people are talking about needles, or if I briefly see one on a film for example. I haven’t tried applied tension yet (this is where you keep your blood pressure up to stop you feeling faint) – has anyone and does it work? Has anyone else had anything that works?
Have you got, or even had, a needle phobia? What do you think triggered it and have you found anything that helps?