Bad-Tempered Nurse Cured My 30-Year Needle Phobia

Phobias are strange things...

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photo credit: formatbrain on
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photo credit: quapan on

Phobias are funny things. Although if you're the person with the phobia then they're not really funny at all. They can be very serious and scary things that can rule or even ruin your life.

To other people they may seem irrational or ridiculous. How can someone be scared of birds (ornithophobia)? Or afraid of being in the middle of a field (agoraphobia)?

Well if you're phobic you might not know why you feel the way you do, but the fear is very real indeed.

Most people are scared of something. My own particular phobia is called trypanophobia, a fear of injections. I'm fine with snakes, love spiders and I'm okay with crowds, but show me a syringe and I won't be happy.

At least that's how things were until very recently. I'm hoping that this phobia's now a thing of the past...

Ready for your shot?

photo credit: lauren nelson on
photo credit: lauren nelson on

I've had a needle phobia for as long as I can remember.

As a child I needed to have a lot of dental operations, and one of my early childhood memories is fainting on the floor of the doctor's office after he told me he was going to put a "tiny little needle" in my arm to make me go to sleep.

In the years that followed, any inoculations or blood tests made me dizzy, and just the thought of having one made me sick with worry for days beforehand.

If a television programme showed somebody getting an injection I had to turn over until that part was over.

And one time at school during an English lesson we were reading a book about somebody who had to be injected with something, and I had to ask to leave the class so that I didn't pass out on my desk!

photo credit: Sarah G on
photo credit: Sarah G on

Although some people just grow out of such phobias, mine continued into adulthood.

Whenever I went for a blood test I would ask to lie down as there was less chance of me fainting that way. (And if I did, well, I was already lying down!)

I always fled any conversations where somebody was describing the details of an operation or talking about needles, and to be honest even a photo of a syringe would make me feel quite woozy.

Then when I had my daughter I could cope with any amount of labour pain, when the alternative was a big needle in my back or my arm.

So recently when I had to get a blood test I was dreading it. Especially because I couldn't find anybody to look after my four year-old and I would have to take her with me!

Now, my daughter is fantastic with needles. As a baby she hardly cried during her jabs - we started to think that maybe she had no feeling in her arms or legs.. And her recent injections have also been a breeze. When I took her for her MMR last year she was happily dancing around the nurse's office, both before and after her injection. The nurse was so much more nervous than she was!

Well, I really didn't want to suddenly make her scared of needles because she saw me making a fuss, so I refused to think about what was going to happen. I was determined to make it a fun day and not dwell on the thought of the needle.

(Gratuitous pictures of sweets to balance out the nasty needles..)

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photo credit: yomi955 on
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photo credit: terrenin virginia on

Think happy thoughts

Thinking happy thoughts, we went to the hospital via the sweet shop. So while we were waiting for my appointment my daughter was happily munching, and also chatting non-stop.

Normally by this point I would have broken into a cold sweat, head feeling woozy, my body would have tensed up, my mouth would be numb, and I would be hyperventilating slightly.

But my daughter's presence and her funny chatter (including loud, slightly embarrassing enquiries about the man sitting next to her and why he had a funny face), took my mind off all of that.

Then when my name was called I felt pretty calm and collected. I could handle this! That is until I asked the nurse if I could lie down.

"NO!", she practically bellowed. She pointed to the chair she had in the cubicle. "This chair does convert into a trolley, but there is no way I'm going to convert it for you. I've got a bad back, and that would put it right out". I could feel the wooziness rising up my body..

I politely explained how I'm not great with needles and there's a good possibility that I might faint. Should I maybe wait for another cubicle with a trolley?

"Don't be ridiculous! If you don't get yourself all worked up then you will be fine".

While I felt slightly shocked at her tone and annoyed that she talked to me like this, (especially in front of my child), I thought maybe she has a point. So I somehow turned off the wooziness, blocked any thoughts, sat myself down in the chair and smiled at my munching daughter.

The needle prick made me jump - and then it was over!

I couldn't believe how easy that was, or that I was still conscious. I thanked the cranky lady profusely, and practically skipped out of that hospital!

I always thought that the only way I would get over this needle thing would be to go to some kind of sympathetic therapist, (or hypnotherapist). Who would have thought that my life-long phobia would instead been cured by an extremely rude, bad-tempered nurse?

Pull yourself together! (Sorry, bad joke....)

photo credit: butkaj on
photo credit: butkaj on

So what does this say about phobias?

Are they all in our head? Well, yes, we know that they are. Phobias are irrational fears, and fears, we know, are things of the head.

So to cure somebody's phobia should we simply tell them not to be afraid, just to pull themselves together?

And then they won't be afraid any more - Phobia Over!

Well, I wouldn't think it's really that simple. Speaking personally, I don't know for sure that I am "cured". I would have to go through another blood test or needle experience to know that for sure. And a phobia of needles might be a bit of an unusual case, as they are difficult to avoid.

We are told that to cure a phobia we need to face our fear. And I suppose that if my phobia were gazelles or radishes (or something else that I could easily stay away from), then I probably wouldn't ever need to face it. But it's a little more difficult to avoid injections and needles. We all need to have them at certain times in our lives.

And on this particular day, it appears that the double whammy of trying not to freak out my daughter and the no-nonsense reprimand I received from the bad-tempered nurse forced me to face my fear, and see the irrationality of it.

How to overcome any fear.

An Update - Some Months Later...

I had another blood test today. I didn't have my daughter with me this time.

But I felt quite confident about it, as keeping calm worked so well last time. Every time I felt the panic beginning to rise I made myself turn off the feeling immediately. And it worked great.

The fear of the 'thing' is undoubtedly often worse than the thing itself. Roosevelt was right!

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Comments 20 comments

suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

Great read. I'm pretty afraid of heights and grasshoppers and praying mantis' freak me out. Glad you were "cured" of you phobia.

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 6 years ago from London Author

Thank you suziecat7. I'm hoping that I'm cured. Perhaps I will update this when I next have to test it out!

I can relate to your phobia of heights, I also seem to have developed a bit of a height phobia over the years. But I love grasshoppers and praying mantises. Guess that just shows how individual our phobias are. Just like my husband can't relate to my needle phobia at all, he gives blood regularly and doesn't even think about the needle.

the pink umbrella profile image

the pink umbrella 6 years ago from the darkened forest deep within me.

You know, its hard ot be mad at someone when the situation turns out as it did for you. I would however have asked her if her lunch consisted of crabs and sour patch kids. What a bedside manner, sheesh!

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 6 years ago from London Author

Yes, you're right, and you made me laugh with the crabs and sour patch kids! I suppose some nurses just don't have the people skills, (and maybe they're in the wrong profession?) but luckily it had a good ending! Thanks for your comment.

zzron profile image

zzron 6 years ago from Houston, TX.

Needles don't really bother me if I don't watch them put it in and I could never give myself a shot even if I had to.

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 6 years ago from London Author

Hi zzron, I'm glad that you have no problem with needles. Yes, I'm definitely with you on having to give oneself a shot. I'm not quite sure what I would do in that situation. I'd probably have to persuade someone to do it for me. Thanks for your comment.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

Ohhh, Moon Daisy-I loved the hub. Great job capturing the essence of that B...y Nurse- gotta watch those ladies in white, LOL (BTW-I am a nurse, but I actually work in the 'mental health' field, so this hub was particularly interesting for me). Funny-well written. I voted it up.

PS-check out the phobia hub I wrote not too long ago. Apparantly, many of us have that interest-writing about what we fear...

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO

I'm actually quite afraid of just about everything I can come into contact with. Well, that's exaggerating, but I appreciate your hub and experience. It does seem we all seem to be writing about phobias of late. That nurse was a total jerk, but I guess you can't really complain if she cured ya! :P

dreamreachout 6 years ago

I share your phobia and don't know how to get out of it!! I am approaching 40 and though I have not required it in the last 28years, may need it sooner or later!! I am a fearless person otherwise but even though you inspire towards the end of this hub, its difficult to overcome because the psychology wont listen!!

A silverlining is that micro needles are commercially coming up which will render no pain and maybe the phobia will go with that!! I read on the net a few days back!!

Thanks for the hub with which I feel!! Cheers!!

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 6 years ago from London Author

Thanks for your comment Denise. Actually the whole medical field was closed as a career-path was closed to me because of this phobia. Maybe now I can re-think!!

I will check out your phobia hub. Yes, I realised when writing this hub that there are plenty of us phobics out there(/here). Thanks for your comment and that vote-up. :)

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 6 years ago from London Author

rgarnett: thanks for your comment. Poor you being afraid of everything, :*(

Yes, the nurse was a jerk, but I am indeed grateful that she cured me.

dreamreachout: it's a shame that you've also been suffering from this annoying phobia for such a long time. I hope that you find a way of getting over it. (Just find a really unsympathetic, rude nurse maybe?!)

It's lucky that you haven't had to face this for 28 years, and I hope that carries on. But since meeting mean-nurse I've really found that the fear comes not so much from the needle itself, but from the state I get myself in from worrying about it. I keep reminding myself of this and it seems to work still. I don't know if that helps at all, but I'm sure that if I can get over it, then probably anyone can!

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 6 years ago from London Author

Forgot to say, I'm also excited by the prospect of micro-needles. I think that'll be a much nicer way of getting injections!

fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 5 years ago from Southern California

I can relate, I have a few phobias myself, that why I wrote two hubs on it. I really enjoyed this hub, Moon Daisy. See you later.

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 5 years ago from London Author

Thanks fastfreta, I will check out your phobia hubs. I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

Hi - this was a really fascinating hub. I'm glad the 'cranky' nurse helped you, but she had no business speaking to you like that. I don't know how many times in my career (Nursing) I've heard the 'bad back' excuse for their attitude, from a minority of nurses, who are basically just not nice people. Most of the nurses I worked with - and a few with painful backs - didn't let that make them ill tempered with patients.

At any rate 'the crank' did help you with your phobia and at least you got something good out of the situation.

My main fear tends to be heights. Especially if its like bridges over water - they make me very - and irrationally - nervous. I really enjoyed this hub, great read.

matthew pearson 5 years ago

i have terrible needle phobia and i cant cure it. its 100 times worse because my family don't take it seriously.

debbie94510 4 years ago

I had such a fear of needles my whole life that I avoided medical and dental attention like the plague! I literally kicked a doctor in the throat when he tried to give me a shot. I ended up curing myself entirely without even realizing I was doing dog had allergies to everything and the vet had me give her shots for a year and a half. I de-sensitized myself without even knowing! Go figure! Oh, BTW, I cured myself of a terrible flying phobia (well, I wasn't scared of flying, I was scared of crashing) by taking ground school. I figured I could either give $300 to a shrink or I could use the money to learn something. I call myself "Half-a-Pilot" though, b/c I never took flight lessons, but got 98% on my ground school pilot exam!

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London Author

Thanks a lot for your comments Seeker7. Yes, I have to say it's unusual to get such a bad-tempered nurse! Usually the medical staff are nice, with an occasional grumpy one, but she was kind of rude! I can relate to your phobia of heights, I have a slight one, that's getting worse with age! I'm glad you enjoyed this hub, and thanks again.

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London Author

Matthew, it's a shame that your family don't take you seriously, because it's horrible when you're phobic. It's not just being silly, it has real, physical symptoms too! I also found that people who didn't have this fear just couldn't imagine what it would be like. They just treat it as a joke I guess. A bit more empathy is needed. Thanks for your comment, and I hope you manage to conquer this too.

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London Author

Debbie, that's amazing how you cured yourself of these two phobias! While I was needle-phobic I'm not sure I would've been able to bring myself to inject another person, or an animal, so that was brave of you to do that! Although a nurse I met told me that he was needle phobic when he gets injected, but he can quite happily inject other people! So maybe for some people the phobia is only of a needle in themselves! And also a great idea to do your course and cure your flying phobia.

In both cases you took away the fear for yourself. Thanks a lot for your interesting comment.

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