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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Surviving shots

I WAS in a chair beside a stretcher where my buddy was writhing in pain in the CHC emergency room at 3 a.m. three days ago when a couple of nurses came in.  My buddy was suffering from gastro acidity and the “cocktail” the nurses gave him earlier did not lessen his pain.
“We’re going to give him fluids now,” one of the nurses addressed me, and I visibly paled. He started to roll up the left sleeve of my buddy’s jacket and got everything ready for the intravenous shot. I cringed and started to shake inwardly as I fought the weakness that started to crawl from my knees and to the rest of my body.
I always have this fear of needles, even if I’m just watching someone getting a shot. I gripped my buddy’s right elbow not to comfort him but to control my shaking as the needle went through his left hand and the nurses finally had the dextrose and another bag of liquid for gastro acidity in place. Weak-kneed, I watched the liquid trickling slowly from the bags and into my buddy’s arm and was able to breathe normally again only when his breathing finally became even and he started to snore softly.

But the worst was yet to come. A little boy was admitted in who would not not stop crying when nurses and hospital staff pinned him to the bed to give him a shot. I peered through the curtains but one of the nurses waved me away. Seeing my buddy having IV injections and hearing the boy wailing was an ordeal I had to endure for the next couple of hours.
“You were so pale I thought we had to administer the IV on you instead,” one of the nurses told me when we checked out that morning. They did not know that I nearly fainted from fighting my fear of needles.
I know I’m not alone. Thousands of other people all over the world would wish to disappear each time a doctor asks them to roll up their sleeves to get a shot. Thousands are suffering from fear of needles so that they would rather suffer and endure the pain and not see a doctor until they have to.
“We have patients who would rather suffer toothache instead of seeing the dentist because they are afraid of injections,” Dental Care resident dentist Fred Gogan said.
According to Dr. Ken Pierson of the Saipan Seventh Day Adventist Dental Clinic, “Sometimes, patients who have fear of needles try to endure the pain and wait until it’s too late for us to save their teeth.”
Both dentists said the fear of needles is something that can be conquered.
Tips to survive shots
Here are some tips from the www.kids.org website and other sources on how to survive shots or conquer your fear of needles.
•    Distract yourself while you're waiting for your shot. You can listen to music, answer puzzles, read a book or bring a movie player so you will be distracted from thinking about the shot.
•    Take slow, deep breaths all the way down into your belly to help you relax. Breathing exercises can help you relax.
•    Talking to a friend for support can also help you distract your attention. Talk about pleasant topics such as coming activities and plans.
•    Focus your full attention on something in the room. It can be a poster, a picture or a sign on the wall, or anything. Concentrate on the details. For example you are looking at a picture, study the colors, the setting or whatever it takes to take your mind off from the shot.
•    While taking a needle shot, don’t’ look at it. Turn your face toward the opposite direction or to a wall or anything away from your arm.
•    Relax. If you are tense, it will only make you feel more hurt. Don’t move your arms or make any sudden movements that will only make the experience more traumatic for you.
•    Don’t think of the needle before or after your shot because it will only add up to the anxiety and fear you have of the needle.
•    Do not hesitate to tell your doctor or nurse that you are afraid of needles. They deal with people like you every day and can help you relax.
•    Condition your mind that the jab of a needle is just one tiny quick bite.
•    Remember that the shot can help you get well or for your own good.
•    If you feel faint or lightheaded after a shot, rest for a few minutes.
Getting shots is an experience that can be tough not only for parents and kids, but for a lot of adults too. It may help to know that your fear is not unique and you are not alone.
The tips to survive shots are easier said than done and it’s more tempting to skip the shots but the good news is you can challenge yourself to face the fear. (This article was first published HERE)

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