This is Why I’m Not a Nurse (Sorry, Grandma)


Today I proved that I really do have a needle phobia. I’ve said that I do for years. I mean, I’m terrible with needles. A nurse once had to pry my fingers off of her wrist so that she could give me a TB shot. I think it goes back to childhood. I remember getting a vaccination. I was laying on the exam table. The nurse said, “Don’t look,” and she turned my head away so that I couldn’t. Except there was a mirror along the wall. Or at least that’s how I remember it.

At any rate, ever since, I’ve hated getting shots and having blood drawn. I start crying, and I can’t look. Even on TV when I know that it’s not real, I can’t look. (Thank god for fussy lace knitting! Oh, dear, I really have to look at my handwork until the soundtrack tells me you’re not jabbing people anymore!)

But back to today. There are two problems with an hCG trigger shot. The first is that it’s, well, a shot. The second is that I have to take it at 10 o’clock. PM. Or to me (and my mother) PMB: Past My Bedtime. I spent the weekend psyching myself up for the former. I visualized myself doing it, nervous but capable. I channeled the Little Engine and Bob the Builder: I can do this, I can do this. For the latter, I distracted myself with Little Mosque on Hulu while knitting on Courtney’s baby shower gift. (Hey, Courtney! Turns out it will be finished in time for your shower next Sunday!) I did not call my mom to say that she should come over. I did not get in the car and drive to my parents’ house, injection kit in tow. That would have been a good idea, but I didn’t.

I’d set the alarm on my phone to go off at 9:55pm. At that time, I gathered my supplies: injection, rubbing alcohol, instruction sheet. I prepped the needle, by which I mean I got the air bubble out without accidentally shooting the entire syringe. Sure, I thought about doing that. Then I wouldn’t have to jab myself with it. Oops.

I prepped the injection site. I double-checked the instruction sheet.

Hold the needle in one hand like you’d hold a pencil. Got it.

Pinch the skin around the injection site. Got it.

Quickly insert the needle all the way. And… I’ve got the needle two inches away from my skin.

Okay, let’s try this again. Quickly insert the needle. And… We’re more like one inch away. Moving in the right direction.

We’ll try again. Quickly insert the needle. And… We’re an inch away. Again. And we’re starting to hyperventilate just a teensy bit. Because, you see, the problem is that I HAVE TO LOOK AT WHAT I’M DOING!

This goes on for about five minutes. Start to jab. Freeze an inch from my skin. Turn around. Take some deep breaths. Repeat until hand starts shaking and crying starts.

At 10:05, I called my mother and sobbed the magic phrase into the phone, prefaced with well-bred Midwestern politeness: “I’m sorry to call you so late, but I can’t do this.” Seventeen minutes later she was there. Nineteen minutes later we were done and I was showing her my freezer full of food that I’d cooked today.

And we both agreed that if we have to do this again next month, we’ll just plan to be in the same place at 10pm to begin with.


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