No One Loves Needles
Unsurprisingly, the fear of needles or trypanophobia is the seventh most common phobia in the entire world. Just like other common phobias—such as acrophobia, the fear of heights—trypanophobia is a reasonable fear, which includes symptoms such as a racing heart rate, avoiding medical care, and feeling emotionally or physically violent. A sharp needle piercing the tender skin of an arm is not something any normal person would want to feel.
I am not sure when I truly became so terrified by shots, but I know my phobia was not as bad as it is now. While I do not have a panic attack when watching Grey’s Anatomy, it is another story when the needle is for me. As a little kid, I did not struggle with shots, probably because a cup of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream came right after. I was eleven the first time I remember my fear being really bad.
A couple of days before my annual doctor’s appointment, I asked my mom if I had to get any shots. Like most kids, I did not enjoy shots, but it was not like the world was ending or anything extreme. However, when I arrived and was told I needed to get two of my vaccinations that day, I gave my mom a look telling her I was irritated she was wrong, but nothing more. It was not until the woman walked in with the two syringes that my disposition changed.
My response was not what I imagined. A wave of fear crashed over me. Panicking as I fought the overwhelming feeling of terror engulfed me. My heart was racing, and tears were streaming down my face. For a while I did not even realize that my mom had wrapped her arms around me, holding onto me tightly as if I were going to shatter into a million pieces.
After about two hours of fighting, crying, and hiding in the bathroom, I received my two shots. Everyone kept telling me it wasn’t going to hurt. They lied.
The next two years I refused to get my flu shot; I decided that the agony of the shot was not worth avoiding weeks of feeling awful. I ended up getting the flu twice within that time. It wasn’t until the end of seventh grade that I got my next shot. I needed to get two teeth pulled, which required lidocaine shots. Over the weekend I had gotten five shots in my mouth. It was scary, but not like the time before. My mom and I had a plan. It was nowhere near revolutionary, but it worked.
Step 1: countdown from three
Step 2: cover my eyes
Step 3: squeeze mom’s hand
Compared to Lauren Klepinger, my story looked like a walk in the park. Klepinger’s trypanophobia became extremely bad when she was seven or eight years old. When she had an episode, she would pass out, then go into convulsions. “I could not talk about getting shots without crying or shutting down. Syringes, medical shows, blood drives, and anything related to injections triggered anxiety”. Like me, she needed to overcome her phobia as she needed teeth pulled, specifically, her wisdom teeth. While I worked with my mom, Klepinger
worked with a therapist and was able to get her IV with no hassle. It wasn’t until later that her phobia appeared again.
To this day both of us still struggle with needles but not as bad as before. It has been a little while since I got my last shot, and I am well overdue for getting my blood drawn, so I’m not sure how I would react right now; however, my continuous avoidance tells me that my fear is not gone.