Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stick that thing in me and I guarantee I'll scream

A lot of authors talk about fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, even fear of success.

I don’t get the last one, and to be honest, the first two aren’t a problem, either. Rejection sucks, no doubt, but it proves you’re trying. Ditto that for failure, which gives you the added bonus of never being the jerk at a writers’ conference who gets lynched in the bathroom for describing the book deal that fell effortlessly into his lap.

I can relate to fear though. And I will confess right now that I am utterly, freakishly, terrified of needles.

This is where you say, “but they don't hurt,” and I explain that the phobia isn’t about pain. I once had a cavity drilled without Novocain just to avoid the needle.

Pain is not a problem.

I’ve tried hypnosis, sessions with a shrink, and a staggering array of anti-anxiety meds. I can occasionally handle an injection, but an IV? I just gagged when I typed those letters.

So when my doctor ordered an exploratory surgery that required an IV two years ago, I explained my phobia. More accurately, I described the degree to which I was likely to FREAK THE F**K OUT if they tried to stick me while conscious.

“No problem,” he said reassuringly, and sent me home with a prescription for a drug labeled for management of severe anxiety and sedation of aggressive patients.

That sounded about right.

I was instructed to take one pill an hour before the procedure, and the second if I was still feeling anxious when we left for the hospital. The third?

“At your size, you won’t be upright after the second,” the doctor assured me. “The third is just for emergencies. We’ll decide when you get here, but that dosage could fell a horse.”

The first pill made me slightly dizzy. The second was tough to swallow because I was hyperventilating. I gulped the third in the car on the way there. By the time Pythagoras steered me into the lobby – trying hard to pretend I was a homeless person he’d found on the street – I was a sobbing, shrieking, shaking, slobbering mess.

“What happened to her?” the receptionist asked.

Pythagoras looked at me. “She’s actually doing pretty well.”

They marched me into a little room where the doctor took one look at me and determined there was no way anyone was touching me – much less trying to stick me with a needle.

That’s about when the hallucinogenic properties of the drug started to kick in.

“Look!” I slurred to Pythagoras as I crawled on the floor. “The shapes are moving. Pretty!”

“Please don’t lick the linoleum,” he urged. “Come on – get up. You don’t know who’s peed on that floor.”

“But it’s fluffy.”

“It sure is.”

Things got a little hazy after that. I remember being dragged into a room and taking a half-hearted swing at a nurse before passing out.

When I came to, Pythagoras was there. “Good news,” he said.

“I’m healthy?”

“Oh, they don’t know yet – but if they ever do this again, they’re just going to gas you.”

Alas, that’s not a viable solution for dealing with the daily fears of most authors, but it’s still a great source of comfort to me.

So what are your fears? Do they pertain to writing, or are they ridiculous like mine? Do share in the comments. Just know that if you use those two letters, I'll throw up a little in my mouth.


Matthew Delman said...

The laughter started at

"but it's fluffy"

"it sure is."

Just so you know.

CKHB said...

ME TOO!!!!!

I had allergy testing done when I was about 9, which meant 10 shots PER ARM of sample allergens (I was allergic to all of them, so my arms swelled up like balloons and couldn't be touched for a week, couldn't BREATHE on them without it hurting for 2 days), plus a blood test that the nurse screwed up, making it 5 sticks with a needle instead of 1.

Instant creation of a phobia.

I've also had a number of cavities drilled without pain killer. Needles are much more terrifying than drills.

Bill Cameron said...

You should try accupuncture. That really helped with my fear of needles.

beadhack said...

I like the Pythagoras reference. I refer to my dh as "Fang". (Ever hear of a lady called, Phyllis Diller?)

Karla Nellenbach said...

ha! i was laughing so hard that i had tears...seriously. my problem is with bridges. not over land. i'm fine with them, but over water. watch out! i freak the f**k out. i'm not even kidding and no amount of alocohol can help me with it...hell, i couldn't even finish watching the mothman prophecy because of the ending. yeah, sad i know. :(

Elana Johnson said...

Great post! Yeah, I think everyone has little fears they can't explain. I'm terrified the most of animals. They have teeth. Sharp ones. Even geese freak me out a little. Can I explain it? No. But they scare me.

Debra L. Schubert said...

You are freaking hilarious. I am deathly afraid of needles and high bridges over (troubled?) water. And, Pythagoras was right - I sure hope you didn't lick the floor. ;-)

(BTW: My word ver is: horjact - is that like hijacked by a ho?)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Your post kept me laughing, as all your posts do. :)
Once I had to get a shot from the doctor, but he ended up giving me the wrong one, so I had to get two shots. If I didn't hate needles before that...
I'm afraid of roller coasters. I have this fear that I'll fall out of one and then land on the people below and then if they don't die (and if I don't die) they'll sue me. And then I'll have no money left over to buy M&Ms.

Linda G. said...

Wow, you do have it bad. So, I take it you have no mysterious tattoos anywhere on your bod? ;)

Delia said...

Hold on a sec, still laughing...

Okay, I can do needles. I have tiny veins and always need to be stuck multiple times and have had many surgeries and invasive, needle-y procedures, so I was kind of forced to get over that one. I have piercings and tattoos and everything. Spiders, on the other hand? Spiders must die. At someone else's hands -- or feet -- because the only thing that squicks me more than spiders is squishing spiders. Gah. I'm shuddering here.

As for writerly fears, I have one. I've only just begun writing in earnest, so I don't know whether I'll ever have to deal with this one, but I'd have real problems with certain aspects of success (i.e. actually publishing something and having other people buy it). In the physical world, I'm an extremely introverted person. Having to interact with strangers on any sort of a regular basis is more draining than Nosferatu. The prospect of networking with other literary types or, God forbid, book signings? Totally freaking out right now.

Maybe when this MS is done, I'll just tuck it on into a drawer. I mean, getting paid for all that work would be nice, but -- Gah.

Jennifer X said...

Oh man. What a great post. As soon as I read that the doc said the third dose was unnecessary, I knew you would be taking it. Pythagoras must have constant laughs. I'm deathly afraid of heights, but I want to go skydiving...will that cure it? I actually HAVE to watch when I get shots or blood drawn. I freak a lot of people out with that. The thing that makes me queasy is if the needle misses the vein and the phlebotomist has to kind of wiggle it in my arm or go in and out...I immediately want to vomit, but I still HAVE to watch. Otherwise, I'm just afraid of being lonely. But, who isn't. Keep being you!

kristycolley said...

I'll tell you what's scary. Small people. Dare I use the term midgets?
I had a traumatizing experience at a haunted house that left me scarred for life.

If anyone reading this happens to be a small person, I'm sure you'd have a phobia too after being attacked by one wearing leather, chains, and snakes.
Take my word for it - worse than needles.

Patrick Alan said...

Great KristyColley.
Now all I am going to think about is midgets putting IVs in my arms.

Oh and trying to run down the hall with those IV stands chasing me and midgets squirting needles, chasing, and yelling "yadho yadho, yaputka!"

maybe they are gnomes. That would explain the black lipstick. Hmm...

Margaret said...

I understand the needle thing though mine isn't close to that bad. I did have two children with no drugs for fear of those two words and a big needle in the back.

My biggest fear, though mostly under control now, is unsupported heights. Like airplanes don't bug me cause the metal is solid (go figure), but a ladder? I can barely manage three rungs before I start to get tight in the chest.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Yep, needles are my thing too. As soon as I see them, I feel the numbness catch hold of me. I've been revived on the floor by many a nurse. Once before surgery, they had to revive me before knocking me out for the procedure. :P

danicaavet said...

Ah, had me at "But it's fluffy!"...LOL

I'm terrified of things being near my eyes. I'm such a voracious reader that my biggest fear is going blind. Last year I had to have some tests done on my eyes because I had migraines and they wanted to make sure nothing was wrong with them. I could've TOLD them that, but they don't believe you. Doctors think they know everything.

So there I am, pretty much strapped in that chair for the air test? Is that what it's called? You know, they pry your eyes open like the dude in A Clockwork Orange and put this needle so close to your eye you just know they're going to touch it. I was babbling, crying, straining to get away and the evil technician kept telling me they weren't going to poke my eye out, but I knew better. Hmph. Yeah, so...ironically, I don't have problems with needles anywhere else. Just the eyes. Meh.

Flannery said...

omg I was crying from this. You. Are. So. Funny.

When I was five and living in China, I had to get like 15 immunization shots all at once. I COMPLETELY lost it. I ran around the clinic screaming like a banshee, jumped over tables, ran under a desk, and tried to lock myself in a free exam room. Didn't work, though--my mom found me and she ended up being way more terrifying than the needles.

The next day there was an article about us in a Chinese newspaper as "The Crying Dutch Girl and Her Nanny". I shit you not. There was a picture and everything. My fifteen minutes of fame. And, oddly enough, I later moved to Holland and lived there for 10 years.

Now, though, it's bugs. That buzzing noise they make? I WILL FREAK THE F*^& OUT LIKE NOBODY'S BUSINESS. CANNOT TAKE IT. OMG. O!M!G!

Harley May said...

You're fun.

I also hate needles. Not as extremely as you do, it seems, but I pass out whenever I give blood. I'm fine if I don't look at the needle, but made the mistake of bringing my daughter when she was two to the doctor with me one time.

"We have to take your blood," the nurse told me.

"Uh....okay. Daughter, there is no reason to be afraid. Look, the needle is going in Mommy's arm and it doesn't hurt one bit. Mommy is fine. The nurse is a good nurse. Mommy is....."

I fainted.

They called my husband to come get me. When he got there, I was laid out on one of the beds and pale as a ghost. He has such a dry delivery when he jokes. So when he suggested, we walk across the street and grab some lunch at Cracker Barrell the nurse thought he was serious.


If I'd had any energy to defend him, I still would have waited a few minutes.

DL Hammons said...

I FEAR nothing! But I won't go to bed with the closet door left open. That's all I saying about that!! :)

Indigo said...

Hilarious! I tend to be parodoxical (oppisite effect) when it comes to medications. I would have been wired to the ceiling high. Novacaine has no effect on me at all. (Hugs)Indigo

Oh fears? I can't sleep with the bedroom door shut. I don't like being shut in rooms. Yeah, makes a hotel room loads of fun.

Tawna Fenske said...

Matthew, it's always fun to know which lines get the laughs!

CKHB, we might be sisters! I once researched this and learned that it's truly possible for someone to DIE from acute needle phobia (or probably any phobia, for that matter). I'm not taking any chances with that.

Bill, you know what's funny? The thought of acupuncture doesn't completely freak me out. Not saying I'd do it, but needles under the surface of the skin aren't nearly as freaky to me as the ones that go into veins (I can barely type that word, btw!)

Beadhack, I have heard of Phyllis Diller! The explanation of Pythagoras' name is in the sidebar, though you've probably already seen it.

Karla, I totally get the bridge thing! Not one of my phobias, but it makes perfect sense.

Elana, you would not last long in my house with three cats, two dogs, and countless other biting creatures!

Debra, LOL over the word verification. I didn't know people got that in my comments section. I thought I had it turned off. Are all of you having to type in verification words?

Neurotic Workaholic, your roller coaster phobia is an interesting one. When's the last time you rode one?

Linda G, no tattoos, though the tattoo needle doesn't freak me out the same way. I think it's got something to do with the depth of the needle, and the idea of veins (shudder) and arteries (double-shudder).

Delia, one of my good friends has the spider phobia, and her husband has a snake one. Though they tease me sometimes about the needle thing, they totally get it!

Jennifer X, I've had several little procedures since then that required an IV, and they've knocked me out cold with gas every time. I think they learned their lesson!

kristycolley, now that's an interesting phobia! I can totally see how it originated though.

Patrick, you are so weird. Why am I even surprised?

Margaret, I have a similar response when we're hiking or climbing and end up on an exposed ledge that feels too narrow. I climbed to the top of a big pyramid at Chichen Itza (Mexico). Going up wasn't a problem, but the thought of climbing down freaked me out so much I had to sit on my but and scoot all the way. Pythagoras was unamused.

Nicole, now THAT is not such a bad thing. Passing out before the needle ends up in your arm? I could deal with that, though waking up with it still in my arm would freak me out.

danicaavet, ew, that is freaky. I wouldn't like needles near my eyes, either. Thanks for giving me something new to hyperventilate about.

Flannery, OMG, if you haven't already blogged about that, you MUST. That's hysterical.

Harley May, I think your husband and mine would get along swimmingly.

DL Hammons, but isn't it more scary with the door closed? You never know what might be in there!

Indigo, so what do you do in hotel rooms? And do you think DL Hammons might be hiding in your closet?

Thanks for reading, guys!

Larissa said...

Spiders and bees/wasps.

I teach preschool, which means lots of time outside. Yesterday, some annoying bee decided it liked me. The second time it came around, I SCREAMED, threw the bucket of construction paper I was cutting (AND THE SCISSORS) in the air, and ran - behind the children.


The third time it came back, I said we needed to go inside (after I picked up the construction paper I threw. Again.)

Sierra Godfrey said...

My fear is that an alien -- one of those skinny nasty pale ones with eyes like a fly -- will creep inside my bedroom window in the middle of the night and paralyze me but tell me it is abducting me in strangely soothing (but so not) tones that I can only hear in my head (telepathic communication).

But the thing that really starts shivers going down my spine is that the sound of its knee knocking into the window as it creeps in is what wakes me up, but by then it's too late!

Also I fear going to prison.

Claire Dawn said...

Autobiography! NOW! lol!

My biggest fear is maybe related to claustrophia. I am afraid of getting stuck in the same place, country, job, etc. This decade I've lived in 3 countries and I still spent half of it going stir-crazy. It's ridiculous.

Sydnee said...

I'm one of those unfortunate people who have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, so... fears? Hell yes. I'm afraid of (in no particular order):

chaos/disorder/loudness/mess (aka: "Get that !#$&%& child away from me")
success (for me, it's a perfectionist thing - I'm afraid I'll get published/make lots of money/get a Nobel Peace Prize and collapse under the resulting pressure)
holes (it's called trypophobia - I'm getting panicky just thinking about beehives right now)

Crystal Posey said...

This is so great! I love it. I blogged my own phobias after reading this. lol :) Your blog is quickly becoming one of my favs.