Monday, October 10, 2011

A Sticky Situation

Though I’m a big Dude, I have to admit there is a certain tiny object that I have an enormous phobia of.  As long as I can remember, I’ve had a fear of needles. It’s not something I have any control over but if I see a needle headed for my epidermis we’ve got problems.  

What kind of problems? Well, if I get too good of a view of the needle there’s a good chance I’ll start getting clammy hands. If the nurse doesn’t move fast enough, my forehead will begin to perspire. So on and so forth. It’s just not a good situation. It’s an involuntary reaction that is irreversible. Not that I have any real desire to start watching people get jabbed.

Over the last couple of years I’ve been exposed to many more needles than I ever anticipated.  It all started when SS got pregnant.  When we’d go for her monthly OB checkups, they always had to take her blood.  Blech. As her pregnancy progressed the doctor was concerned that the baby was going to be a giant like I was (as I wrote in “Can I see some ID?”) so there was a risk of gestational diabetes. Honestly, I think I was more at risk for gestational diabetes than SS was, given the amount of comfort food I ingested during that 9 month buffet of fun.  We had to go in three separate times for her to get tested for the diabetes. She passed every time.  If passing is not having it.  

I was very concerned before the delivery about the epidural SS was going to receive. We had a scheduled C-Section, so it was a matter of when it was going to be performed, not if.  My concern was two-fold. First, just the thought of her getting a needle inserted into her spine literally made me want to vomit.  Second, I thought I would have to be there by her side as it occurred.  I was relieved when the anesthesiologist told me that I had to wait in another room while she poked that silvery slice of pain relieving goodness into my wife’s back. But only because if I had been there with her, there’s a good chance I would have missed the delivery. Because I was passed out cold on the operating room floor.   

One of the most difficult things about being a parent is watching your child when he is in pain. I learned that quickly when literally moments after birth, the nurses started sticking, poking and prodding my son. And I said “my son” instead of BC because he didn’t even have an official name yet, that’s how fresh out of the oven he was.  

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been exposed to many more needles than I could ever imagine. Starting at two months old, BC started receiving his immunizations at the pediatrician’s office.  I have to admit, his reaction to the shots has been as good as they could be.  Every single time he’s cried for 30 seconds or less and that was it.  Obviously we know where that calmness comes from and I’ll be the first to admit it’s not from me.  

This might all date back to a traumatic incident from my childhood. At my first visit with a new pediatrician, when it was time for my annual booster shot I refused. Surprisingly the doctor said that he would wait until I was ready. I assumed he meant a minute or two. Then he got up and left the room.  And made me wait for an hour.  My mother was not happy.  With the doctor who acted like a jerk. So when he came back and asked if I was ready, I decided to spite him and said no. So I had to wait another half hour.  And this was before the advent of Angry Birds. Finally my mother convinced me to just get it over with and that was the last time I saw that (idiot) doctor.  His bad attitude made me want to stick a needle in his…tires. 

Shortly after BC’s birth, something unexpected happened.  The pediatrician told SS & me that we needed some shots, too.   My Little Dude was born during the Swine Flu epidemic in 2009 and you probably recall that it was very communicable.   For his safety, we needed to get the Swine Flu vaccine, the regular Flu vaccine and the TDAP vaccine.  That was more shots than I’d had in years. Intentionally.

But now the pressure was on. If I refused, I would possibly be putting my newborn at risk if I came into contact with a sick friend or a large meat lover’s pizza.  We told the doctor that we’d do it. For SS, it was obviously no big deal given her recent history as a pin cushion. So I let her go first.  Have you ever noticed how fast those pediatric nurses maneuver? They’re like snipers protecting the president.  

Before I could even debate the issue in my head, it was my turn.  My mind was racing: should I back down and put BC at risk or face the humiliation of nervosity caused by a small piece of metal? I could feel my palms moisten.  And as I tried to come up with a good reason not to do it, my newly installed parental instinct kicked in and I acquiesced.  I got the two flu vaccines, one in each arm. The nurse then covered the wounds with SpongeBob band-aids, which I must admit looked mighty impressive on my bulging biceps.  

Thanks for reading The Dude of the House! Tell your friends... 

--JJ aka The Dude of the House


  1. I too have an extreme dislike of needles. Never mind the fact that I have 14 tattoos...those are a completely different kind of needle(kick me..I'm the hussy that has fallen asleep when I've had tattoos done.)I've managed throughout my years on this Earth to not pass out when there are needles involved.I have used what I guess one might call self hypnosis;I call it "going inside of myself" as I can completely transfer my thoughts and feelings to a place deep inside.
    2 years ago I was beginning to have troubling symptoms. Long story short I was diagnosed with a rather debilitating autoimmune disease and in the course of being dx'd...there were needles involved. And here I am 2 years later and able to give myself the injections that I need to help fight this disease.
    So Dude...I wish you the best of luck when it comes to needles. I can empathise with you.

    1. How can anyone possibly fall asleep when getting a tattoo done?

      Best wishes with your disease. Sounds like you are a real trooper.

  2. Those parental instincts are pretty powerful. I don't like needles either. My son is a 2 time cancer survivor. Each black bead on his necklace represents a needle poke.

    Each red bead represents a blood transfusion. Thus my wife and I now give blood and I just think "He still has had more needles in his life than I have had in mine! I can do this"

    1. That is a great point, Chris. It sounds like your son has tremendous strength. May he stay well and away from needles...