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.