My mom took my sisters and me to visit a friend’s child who was in the hospital. I was maybe 12. I remember the age because I was shocked that the x-ray technician asked me if there was any way I could be pregnant and I was aghast. Wait? How did I go from visiting a friend’s kid to getting an x-ray? I fainted.
Why did I faint? Because I thought I saw a needle.
A nurse walked into this kid’s room to check on them, and I still swear on my life that she had a needle in her hand. And that is when I realized I was scared of needles.
Each vaccination was tortuous for me. I would tense up and make things worse.
My fear of needles wasn’t always bad though. It is coupled with, I suspect, sensitivity to anesthesia. When I had surgery to remove some fibroids, I passed out as soon as I got the IV. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, I passed out as soon as I got the injection.
I got better about needles during my pregnancy. As a pregnant person, you get stabbed a lot. Oh, the blood draw! So much blood is drawn. Even now when I go to get blood drawn to monitor my pre-diabetes, I warn the technician that I am prone to fainting. I pull out my phone and distract myself with the internet as she does what she needs to do.
But if there is something I am more afraid of than needles, it is COVID-19 and not seeing my friends for another year.
That is why when I was eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination, I jumped at the chance.
Luckily a pop-up clinic opened blocks from my home. I got to walk over while listening to my favorite music to get myself pumped up. I was sad that no one could be there with me to hold my hand or take my photo. But it was the first day the clinic was open, and it was fairly chaotic. The doctor who vaccinated me was also the doctor organizing everything. He had so much energy! I sat down, and he asked which arm. Before I could even warn him that I might faint, it was over. “You’re done, go sit over there,” as he pointed to the waiting area. I was legit mad that I didn’t even have time to prepare myself. HAHAHAHA!
By the time my second vaccination rolled around, the clinic was humming like a well-oiled machine. I wore my US Women’s National Soccer team championship jersey because if this needle-fearing lady was going to get her second vaccination without anyone she loved holding her hand, I was going to wear the jersey of the most badass women. Maybe their strength would rub off on me.
As she went to give me my vaccination, the volunteer became enamored with my camera phone and he almost missed the shot! I yelped! Both for the vaccine and him to not miss the shot. So while I was clearly 1,000% focused on the shot and it did hurt, it wasn’t so bad.
I made up my own plans, but if you need help planning your vaccination there is a great online tool by The Meg Foundation called Hack the Vax!
I clicked through the tool to see how it feels and this Capricorn was pleased to see I hit on a lot of things.
✔ Distracting myself with a book & social media!
✔ Listening to music!
✔ Looking away!
✔ Alerting the medical professional that I might faint!
✔ Rewarding myself!
Doing these things makes me feel better. I know it is me taking care of myself.
And ultimately this is what we are doing by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. We are taking care of ourselves. We are taking care of our loved ones. We are taking care of the person in front of us at the coffee shop.
Pro tips for post-care: Be hydrated. Move that arm. And rest the day after. Maybe you can’t take the day off, but don’t ask your body to do much more than your usual routine.
I wish you all the best as you head out to get vaccinated! Let me know which techniques you’re using in YOUR plan.
This post is made possible with support from the Meg Foundation. All opinions are my own.