Thursday, July 5, 2012

Have you heard of trypanophobia?

You wanna talk about fears? Ok. I don't have a fear... I have a true phobia. Yes, an irrational, extreme fear. I fear needles -- the medical kind. The kind intended to pierce your skin and inject something. Ick. Just writing that makes me quiver. I know... no one likes needles, right? But, this is a true phobia. It even has a name -- trypanophobia. I have to tell every doctor and nurse I meet that I have this phobia. I usually just say "I really don't like needles." Some "get it" right away, some don't.

I've had to send my husband for almost all of my kid's vaccination check-ups.  If we were both at a vaccination appointment?  I stepped out of the room while my kids got their shots.  Mom fail.

Where does this phobia come from? I don't know. I didn't have anything traumatic happen to me as a child involving needles. But my dad and brother also have it -- there is scientific evidence that this phobia is genetic.  It may even be evolutionary -- because those who feared and avoided getting stabbed tended to survive more!  (Hey... makes sense to me!)

So, does this mean I fear pain from needles? Nope. I just fear the needles themselves. I can't even watch needles on the television; I don't like thinking about needles (I can't believe I've already written several paragraphs about them).

So, does this mean I fear blood or gore? Nope. I love horror movies, and bloody injuries on my kids or myself do not bother me.

You didn't think I would put a picture of a needle here did you? Ick.
My fear response to needles is actually physical -- it is called a "vasovagal reflex reaction" -- which is what causes fainting. For a while, I thought I could "acclimate" myself to needles by donating blood. I donated blood for years. I fainted Ever. Single. Time.  The Red Cross told me I was not welcome to donate anymore -- I used up too many volunteer resources! Yes, I'm banned from being a blood donor because of my needle phobia!

My phobia has also cost me Big Time at the dentist. I recently had a root canal, and had to do an "elective sedation" -- out of pocket cost $500 -- so that I could stay in the chair for the entire procedure. Despite the fact that trypanophobia is a DSM IV phobic condition, I have to pay out-of-pocket to mitigate for it;  no insurance will cover medical costs related to phobic conditions. For a regular filling, my dentist gives me nitrous so that he can give me the Novocaine.  I pay for that out-of-pocket, too. 

Now... my brother? He has actually skipped the dentist's Novocaine needle, and opted for the drill pain. (He's a little crazy.) See? I told you it was a phobia, and not about the pain. 

By the way -- my dad has trypanophobia and is diabetic.  Think about it... think about it.  Not fun.  My mom has to give him his insulin shots.  She is a saint.

This post is part of the Summer Blog Challenge.  It is in response to "July 5--Talk about a fear you have."

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