Brave Diabetics: Overcoming the fear of needles

Kerri Sparling Health Guide
  • I'm not a fan of roller coasters. I'm terrified of flying. I think bears are out to get me, and I'm pretty much convinced that there's a Great White shark living in the toilet let in my house. I don't like the dark. And that unexpected sound of a balloon popping? Sends shivers up my spine.

    Basically, I'm a scaredy cat. Afraid of so many different things that to list them all would be exhausted. (And I'm afraid to list them , anyway. :: rimshot :: )

    What's strange is that every single day, several times a day, we as people with diabetes face what scares so many others: those pesky needles. The syringes of insulin, the infusion set needles, the blood sugar testing lancets, and the countless blood draws at the doctor's office.

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    I've written before about how I have having blood drawn, but in my own defense, this fear is born out of a lack of control, not actual pain. Diabetes is a very, very patient-managed disease, so when other people are controlling the sharp objects we're used to having full say over, it's perceived entirely differently.

    I was at a local drugstore the other day, and there was an H1N1 clinic going on, with adults and children alike lined up to get the vaccine. I saw a grown man sit on the clinic chair and wince fearfully as the clinician rolled up his sleeve and uncapped the vaccine syringe. "Just a quick pinch and we'll be all done." The man, who in my mind was a tough construction worker who arrived at the flu clinic via his Harley Davison bike, nodded quickly, his eyes squeezed shut.

    A little boy was also in line, his mother holding his hand. Only they were waiting at the pharmacy window, picking up prescriptions, like I was. They were ahead of me in line, and the boy was taking to his mom about what happened at school that day.

    "And then there was a fight over who got to stand next to Lisa, but I didn't care because I don't even like her the best. I like Kaitlyn."

    "I know you do, sweetheart." The mom grinned at her son as they approached the counter. "Yes, picking up for Smith? First name is Jacob. Should be two scripts, one in the fridge."

    The pharmacist brought back familiar looking boxes - BD ultrafine syringes and vials of insulin. The mother paid and the son prattled on, talking about how Kaitlyn actually liked him back, and he knew because she told Matthew and that made it true.

    Kid with diabetes are bred to be a little tougher, a little more resilient. (It must be in our DNA, maybe were the "insulin-making" gene once was house.) We don't necessarily grown up to be adults who have all their fears under control, and it may not make us tougher, per say, but it does put some moments into an efficient perspective. These kids might end up afraid of sharks, or believing that monsters might be under the bed even when they're thirty years old, but they face fears that grown men aren't able to handle without wincing.

Published On: January 27, 2010