Injectable T + Needle Phobia = Awesome

I’m only being half sarcastic with the title. It is awesome to finally be on testosterone, despite all my particular issues. In fact, I was so excited about starting T, I almost forgot to be anxious about getting stabbed with a needle, though I do have to wonder if my psych meds are actually helping with my anxiety like they are supposed to.

My needle phobia has significantly affected my efforts to start T in the past, as well as my use of medical and dental care generally, even though I am well aware that the associated pain is usually very minor. I got my blood drawn earlier this year, and what bothered me most was the sensation of having a needle inside of my arm, as well as the anticipation immediately beforehand and the wait until they could finally pull the thing out. I firmly looked away during the procedure, and I mentally chanted “oh god oh god oh god” the whole time. I didn’t even have the presence of thought to modify that to a less monotheistic “oh gods oh gods oh gods”. And yes, the pain was very minor. No worse than a pinch. But when I get pinched, my brain doesn’t conspire to turn it into a horrible catastrophe, zooming in on every little sensation and minor prick of pain until it completely occupies my thoughts, and my entire world becomes needle. And even afterwards, my mind is hypersensitive to the tiniest twinge around the injection site (including the sensation of the band-aid getting nudged and possibly very slightly pulling on a hair or two) and demands that I treat that part of my body with great care and tenderness, as if I’d actually just been injured there.

So, yea. I would have preferred to go with a non-injectable form of T. But they didn’t know how to handle the dosage for other forms of T at my university health center, and the doctor they referred me to didn’t have any openings for months. I decided I’d rather put up with needles than wait for yet more months. I’d have to put up with needles for getting a blood draw every few months, anyway.

Importantly, my doctor was willing to work with me on my needle phobia. We arranged an appointment where I would come in to get the shot after I’d filled my prescription. Normally, it would just be come in whenever, but I thought I’d have an easier time getting started with the shots if I had a specific time I had to be there, and couldn’t just indefinitely tell myself I’d do it tomorrow.

When I went in for my appointment, I was excited about starting T, needle or no. The wait wasn’t too bad. In the past I have usually experienced a sense of dread while waiting to get an injection, but that was thankfully absent (it was also absent for my blood draw earlier this year, but I didn’t have long to dreadfully anticipate that one, as it had only been recommended by my doctor about ten minutes beforehand). I suppose I got a sort of minor nagging anxious feeling in the back of my mind as the wait went on, but I could mostly ignore it.

During the actual prep time, I definitely got more nervous. They were going to give the shot intramuscularly in the butt, so I couldn’t really see what they were doing even if I wanted to, and I flinched when they touched the injection site just to clean it beforehand. When they actually jabbed me with the needle, it barely hurt (of course), and I couldn’t really feel anything but that tiny, minor sharp pain. So no disturbing sensation of needle inside of body part this time.

Afterwards, they had me wait around for 20 minutes to make sure I didn’t have any bad side effects (e.g. allergic reaction). I sat very uncomfortably, as my brain kept telling me I needed to be super careful and protect the injured part, er, I mean injection site, and sitting on it wasn’t exactly helping. And they’d told me beforehand that I might experience some pain afterwards (I think they meant more like muscle soreness?), so I had that to worry and be hypervigilant about as well. That tiny prick of pain stuck around for a while, and the book I’d brought along to read had suddenly become super boring. The book distraction not working, I tried concentrating on areas of my body other than the injection site to help relax and distract. I basically just used a simplistic variation of the 61-point relaxation technique in order to get my mind concentrating on any area of my body other than the injection site.

At some point, I started to feel like I was flushing, but it was cold instead of hot. There were a few moments when I felt mildly nauseous, and I had a general, vague feeling of unwellness or badness that I couldn’t pinpoint (I believe the technical term for this is malaise). I didn’t realize how much I was sweating until I touched my forehead and it was wet. When the doc came back, they told me I looked quite pale. They asked if I had eaten today. I had, but I suppose not that much (I’d had a small breakfast and a large snack before my early afternoon appointment). They got me some crackers and juice and a place where I could lie down. I felt better fairly quickly after having a few bites and lying down, but they still had me hang out for a while. All in all, my quick appointment for an injection lasted almost an hour.

I might have been imagining it, but there were a couple moments after that when standing felt slightly more challenging than normal. When I first stood up after they cleared me to leave, I had very slight difficulty getting my balance at first, but I could walk just fine. Basically, it felt like a moment of clumsiness rather than like something was wrong with me. There was another moment when I was standing up to get off the public transport while it was slowing down, and I had more difficulty than usual accounting for the deceleration of the vehicle. It might just be that I had issues because I was expecting issues. Or maybe because my brain was still telling me to be super careful with the part where I’d got the injection (it’s still doing that even now). Regardless, I decided to take the elevator rather than the stairs, this time. The stairs are not a good time to have difficulty with balance, even super minor or possibly imagined difficulty.

But I am finally on T now! This early on, it’s probably a purely psychological thing, rather than physical effects of the T, but I feel more like the guy that I am, now. It’s great! I keep catching myself smiling.

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12 thoughts on “Injectable T + Needle Phobia = Awesome

  1. Congrats! I am glad that you are happier. I also have an extreme phobia of needles, and I agree with you that the part when the needle is in your body, just there, is so terrifying. I especially hate when they stick it in a vein or a sensitive area of your body. Just typing this is making me SO uncomfortable. Anyways, good luck. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks!

      Needle phobia sucks. Especially when you really need something that involves needles. I’m just glad my thing that I need is also something that I really want, or I don’t know if I could do it. It took me a while to figure out I even have a needle phobia, because everyone hates needles. It feels like it’s something that’s easy for people to trivialize because nobody likes needles, but there’s a huge difference between not liking needles and getting physical anxiety symptoms and avoiding necessary medical care because of needles.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not just afraid, it goes way beyond fear. I don’t think I’ve been to a psychologist for it, mainly because I avoid doctors (I know, I know, that’s bad) so I don’t know if I actually have a phobia. I just know that it’s one of my worst fears.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I avoid stuff I know I shouldn’t, too. Especially dentists.

          Even if phobia isn’t the right word, if it’s having a significant negative impact on your life, then that’s a problem worth acknowledging.

          Psychologists (and most therapists generally) aren’t actually doctors, by the way. If that’s helpful information. They don’t prescribe meds or anything like that. Psychiatrists do prescribe meds; they actually have to have an MD, so they are doctors, just ones that specialize in mental health.

          And I really hope none of what I’m saying is coming across as pushy, or as telling you what you “should” be doing.

          Liked by 1 person

        • What’s funny is that I’m aspiring to be a psychologist myself. I am aware that psychologists are not doctors, although many actually are, and they may prescribe medication. For example, I am studying to become a forensic psychologist, and you need a PhD or PsyD, so actually, they are doctors. I agree with you on the dentists thing. I have to make an appointment because I have cavities and stuff and I am terrified! Anyways, I’ll take a look at some psychologists to see if I actually have a phobia. (When I have the time *sigh*) Thanks for your advice!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Good luck with the dentist thing. I’m glad you found something helpful in what I’ve said.

          I’ve also been thinking of linking to some sites about phobias (whether generally, or needles specifically) at the end of my post. As DoneWithReligion has reminded me, needle phobia is relatively common, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more than one person who has a problem with needles reading this thread.

          And I have a kind of a knee jerk reaction to say “just try this!” or “maybe this other thing would help”, even when there is no indication from someone who has a problem with needles that they want to work on that in the near future and are looking for advice. For myself, I have generally taken even light pushiness about dealing with my needle phobia, in the context of saying I want to work on it, as unwelcome pressure, or even feel like I’m being backed into a corner because of fear that I will be forced to face my fear. I’ve even gotten those sorts of feeling just reading an article about overcoming needle phobia that I purposely sought out of my own volition. So it seems like perhaps the most useful thing I can do is say “here’s a resource if you’re interested” and just leave it at that.

          Like

        • That’s a good idea. I am a lot more open to facing my fears than most people, so I think it would be very helpful for me. I remember that my grandfather used to give me advice regarding pain. He said to meditate and act as if you deliberately created the pain. It’s kind of hard to describe but it works for me most of the time. I understand how you feel about being pressured. I’m not usually pressured into facing my fears, but that’s just mainly because nobody takes me seriously.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Anxiety is the worst. It has all the real physical symptoms and is a horror show in your mind – all the while, you know rationally, in some small corner of your mind, that its “just anxiety” but that just somehow adds to the anxiety. Anyway that’s what happens when I try to be rational. Anxiety somehow doubles down on me.

    The point is – its still real. I mean you still feel terrible and facing the terrible and dealing with it so you can make you life the way you want it to be – THAT is bravery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks.

      It is definitely more common than most people realize. I wish the issue got more attention. Needle phobia has so much more potential to actually impact a person’s health than the average phobia.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so excited for you! That’s wonderful. I remember when I started E. I’ve always done the injections (though I’m super afraid of needles too) and the bright side is they work a lot faster. After a couple days to a week, you start feeling the difference in the way you think, it’s so crazy. I hope you enjoy the crap out of your adventure sunshine ^.^ I’m proud of you and happy for you. Have a beautiful day!

    Liked by 1 person

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