'Get over it' doesn't quite cover the shit I dealt with

Gambling on Life: Overcoming Trauma

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filed under "Gambling on Life"

by WFL

This post, like others that will follow it, is a continuation of my Gambling On Life series.

Let me start with this:

If you are squeemish about needles or traumatic childhood experiences, you may want to avoid reading this.

With that warning out of the way, let's get into my childhood trauma, what I'm doing to overcome it, and why.

As I alluded to in my previous Gambling on Life post about methotrexate, I have some difficulties with getting lab work done.

Like many people, I have a fear of needles. I actually tend to get a lot of crap about that until I explain just why I have that fear.

You see, there are 3 key points in my childhood that give me plenty of justification for disliking needles, injections, and the like.

The first - and the one that always illicits the "OH SHIT" reaction in folks - happened when I was around 3 or 4 years old.

My babysitter at the time became health-obsessed after her husband's diagnosis of diabetes. For whatever reason, however, this ended up driving her to become insistant that my cousins and I all clean our plates at dinner.

My cousins were big boys, and had a healthy appetite. Me? I was the scrawny runt who didn't eat near as much (and now I'm realizing those portions were WAY too large for us, which is why my cousins tended towards the heavier side).

Our punishment if we didn't eat all our food?

We'd get injections.

I am not even kidding.

She also frequently tested our blood sugar, but that's needle-adjacent enough for me to want to nope out of it pretty hard at 3-4 years old.

One time in particular really stands out in the sea of traumatic memories.

It was July, if I remember correctly; It was hot, I know that. I had finished my meal miraculously, but my babysitter had told me "Don't tell your mother I gave you this one", and gave me another injection.

I didn't know what the fuck to think. When my mom came to pick me up, I told her, but I don't think she believed me.. I mean, it's pretty absurd to think that a babysitter is giving you injections, right? I didn't think to show her the needle marks or anything, because I was a fucking child.

The problem was with when & where I told her, though.

You see, with it being so hot, they had the front door open and made use of the screen door to keep bugs out while also allowing a breeze into the house..

..And I told my mom what happened right on the front porch.

Anyway, I go back the next day, and my babysitter tells me she heard me.. And she had my cousins grab me and drag me to her so she could stick me with a fucking needle as punishment.

Eventually it all stopped, but to this day I have zero idea what I was being injected with.

The two other instances of trauma seem almost pale in comparison.

One was for allergy tests; Again, I was a tiny little kid, and didn't understand why they were sticking me with these needles all over my arm.

What's worse is they screwed up the first time or something, so they had to do it again (if I recall correctly) the next week.

I'm severely allergic to a lot of things, so this is an important test for me to have, but I was a goddamned child who didn't understand that.

The final instance is actually related to that.

I was around 6 or 7 years old, and was eligible for a new treatment for my allergies that is pretty common now.. Immunotherapy via exposure.

Once a week I'd go to the doc and get injected with a bunch of stuff I'm allergic to in order to try and train my body to stop freaking the fuck out at every little bit of pollen, dander and mold.

Instead, what happened is every time I got injections I also had asthma attacks.

So.. Yeah.

I have some fucking issues with needles.

How do I deal with it, though, as an adult who now has to have blood drawn every 6 weeks?

Well, I'm still trying to figure that out.

Therapy is expensive AF, and I've got enough expenses with treating my other issues that it isn't a priority.

I do a lot of meditation, for one. I try and not focus on what is happening, or about to happen, and instead distract myself as much as possible.

I tell the staff doing the draw the short version of the first story, so they understand I'm not an average person who doesn't like needles.

When possible, my GF comes with me to hold my hand. This helps a lot more than you'd think; my senses are already cranked up to overdrive with the needle going into my arm, so some positive touch helps.

The staff also helps distract me by talking to me so I can get my mind engaged on things other than the piece of metal sticking in me as they slowly drain 2 vials of blood.

Afterwards.. I'm about ready to pass out. I go pale, clammy, and am barely able to hold myself up. I am absolutely SOAKED in sweat.

I get some water, a fan, and try to get back to a point to where I can stand. That can take as long as 10 minutes.

It's not the pain; I live in pain 24/7. Pain is no big deal.

It's the fact that I can feel that thing inside me, and don't want to move for fear of damaging my body more than what my mind perceives as an already critical violation.

It's hard. It sucks. I'm dealing with it as best I can.

I don't know that I'll ever be "OK" with it, but I don't have much of a choice.

If I want to get better physically I've got to deal with revisiting my trauma on a regular basis. I don't know if that is part of the process of healing, but if it is I'll hopefully have it relatively licked thanks to my broken ass body.