7 Sep 2012

Afraid of needles

I don't think I have ever written these words before: Lily is afraid. Actually she is terrified.

Somewhere, somehow she has developed a completely irrational fear of needles. It started about 2 years ago and now I can say it has peaked to the point that by definition it is a phobia. And she has her annual physical tomorrow.

I have researched and researched her concerns and typically there is something that happened to start it but for her there was no one incident. I even asked her if it was when she got her ears pierced and the doctor slipped and pierced the very bottom edge of her ear by mistake and then couldn't get the earring out and had to tug and tug and tug. But that wasn't it. She says she doesn't know what happened. She absolutely loves her doctor so that's not it. She did say she hated seeing Rosie getting shots when she had her heart surgery but that was so long ago and she doesn't think that was what did it. She also saw Rosie hooked up to every machine known to man, post surgery and it didn't faze her at all and the hospital had therapists on hand to talk to siblings about what was happening.

Last Sunday in the car I gently reminded her that she has her annual physical coming up this week and she went silent. I checked on her via the rear view mirror and saw her crying her eyes out and breathing really shallow fast breaths. I whipped the car over and told to Jacob to drive and I hopped in the back seat with her.

I started deep breathing exercises with her and also muscle relaxation techniques and was able to calm her down but it was no easy task. The crying continued for a good 10 minutes.  She is terrified. Now to most of us this is ridiculous and she needs to pull herself together and I agree BUT when you are scared of something it just isn't that easy. I typically wouldn't have any patience at all for this behaviour but for 2 reasons I do. One: this is Lily and she doesn't make a fuss, she isn't scared of ANYTHING ever and two: I have been petrified, to the point of passing out, of dogs for a large portion of my life so I know what it is like to have an irrational fear. You truly cannot control it. You know it is crazy but you cannot help yourself once the fear kicks in and the adrenaline starts.

Everyday this week we have worked on breathing exercises and relaxation. I have also taught her to look at me and only me, in the eyes and focus.

Even Rosie has got into the act. The other day she appeared with a pair of tweezers out of her doctor kit and pinched Lily's finger, telling her it would only hurt that much. The tweezers were plastic so they bent as she pinched and of course felt nothing like the real thing but her intentions were good.

Yesterday morning as Lily got ready for school she got really snotty over her socks, of all things. Once I told her to get a move on she got really flip, so I scolded her. I failed to realise that she was worrying about Saturdays' appointment. It wasn't until later that I put the two things together. When I put her to bed last night she asked if I could stay with her for a while. She was afraid of her appointment again. I stayed with her on her bed and let her talk it through.

She is the most rational 10 year old I have ever met and she knows this makes no sense and it makes it worse for her.

If any one has any ideas at all please give me a heads up. It's no fun living life with a phobia and it isn't possible to get through life without getting a shot every now and again. Oh and all she needs this year is a pin prick in her finger!

Oh and this is a kid who carries an epi-pen everywhere she goes. Maybe she's forgotten that it contains a needle!

(this photo has nothing to so with this post it is just one of my favourites of her and shows her looking a lot more care free than she does at the moment)


val said...

It sounds to me that you are doing what Lily needs right now. The fact that she herself knows it makes no sense is a step in the right direction. Baby steps for now. I had an irrational fear of water.....couldn't even get my face wet in the shower! It hasn't gone away, probably never will, but I can live with it now. Just keep reassuring her so she knows you have her back not matter what.

Anonymous said...

what is the pin prick for?..will a urine sample do instead?..one of our patients is fearful of needles and we get around this using samples.Wishing all the best to lilly when she sees the G.P.

Vivian M said...

If it is the pain she is worried about, can they apply a numbing topical anaesthetic (sp?) to the site? It sounds like you are doing the right things. Corey has claustrophobia, so I understand. Just be there with her, hold her hand and have her look you in the eyes instead of at the needle. Talk to her about anything else, distract her with a joke - whatever it takes! Good luck!

Alyson and Ford said...

Her photo is so beautiful, she is gorgeous. I love the picture too! (no comment on needles, just can't think of anything to write that would help).
Good luck at the Doctors!

Alyzabeth's Mommy


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