Post # 1
Happy Saturday, bees! I wanted to share and ask for advice for my husband. He has a bad fear of needles/shots/blood being drawn. He told me this even before we started dating; it’s his kryponite. He passes out after any shot, before surgery, etc. He just can’t handle it.
Yesterday, I went with him to get blood drawn for the first time. He randomly a few weeks ago made a doctor’s appointment- said he wanted to be healthy to be around with me forever (aww). The doctor gave him a script to get some routine bloodwork, and I honestly didn’t think he would do anything with it; I thought he’d put it off. Thursday when he came home from work he told me that he had made an appointment the next morning- I was shocked. I happily went with him, and he was pretty calm all morning.
He insisted on going back by himself, so I waited in the waiting room. Not two minutes after they took him back, one of the employees was in the waiting room calling for me. Apparently, he passed out twice when they just took his arm- they hadn’t brought out a needle, stuck anything. Just looking/touching his arm was enough to make him pass out. And when I got back there, he was knocked out hard. It’s one of those things/feelings I’ll never forget. This may be graphic but he was just…. limp, shaking (almost seizing from the little I recall), eyes rolled back into his head, etc. It was absolutely terrible. I took his hand immediately, and within maybe 1-2 minutes (although it seemed like an eternity), he came to (kinda). He was pale as a ghost, sweating profusely, kept closing his eyes. But I think hearing my voice helped- he was able to look at me, tell the employees his name and where he was. Two strong men helped him back to the recovery room, where they laid him down. I gave him some water, held his hand, made him keep talking to me, tried to cool him down. He was even sick to his stomach multiple times. I drove him home (still sick to his stomach) when he was able to stand and walk, he just wanted to go home and get out of there. He napped for a little while, and when he woke up he was immensely better- able to eat, headache went away later in the day, joking and smiling. By the end of the night he was fine, just embarrased. I was so proud of him for trying.
Question to you bees- how does one overcome a fear this bad? I know he will need some kind of shot/bloodwork/IV at some point in the future, and I honestly don’t know how I can bare to see him in that state again. I’ll always be there for him, but it was the scariest moment of my life.
Post # 2
I used to take blood for a job and we just layed anyone down to do it if they told us they were likely to faint. Why doesnt he just try that? Most blood places and doctors/nurses office would have a small bed. No one ever fainted on me if they were lying down, but a fair few did who didn’t mention anything and tried to get it done sitting up.
Post # 3
I would try a therapist. It sounds like something like exposure therapy would help. You can read up on it on the internet. It sounds like he’s willing to try to fix the problem since he tried to get his blood drawn so he’d probably be open to therapy. Good luck!
Post # 4
I’m a nurse and I’ve never had someone pass out if they lay down first, but they have to be honest with me beforehand.
Definitely try therapy. I know a lot of people who pass out from blood being drawn, but this is extreme (especially being “out for 1-2 minutes”). It doesn’t seem like something he can just push through without help.
Post # 5
I’d recommend talking to a psychologist or psychiatrist because it sounds like he is having a very severe form of vasovagal response. This is where regardless of if you are mentally scared of an event (like getting punctured by a needle) you have the physical response of fainting. I have this and even though I’ve overcome my fear of blood draws and injections (6 blood draws in a month will do that to you) I can still feel faint and generally need to lie down when getting my blood taken.
The problem for a blood draw is, they can’t draw his blood when he’s passed out or close to passing out since your heart rate goes too low to actually get the blood out of you.
I’d ask a psychologist if they would recommend aversion therapy.
Post # 6
I had a friend who was so afraid of needles she would have seizures. She finally just “got over it” enough because there were other things she wanted. Honestly, she REALLY wanted a tattoo and I think that her want overcame that fear ENOUGH that she know doesn’t seize/pass out even though she is still afraid. Maybe it was because you don’t get “stuck” with a needle during a tattoo so-to-speak.
Anyways, I guess I don’t have any good advice except see a therapist as the others said, just wanted to let you know that his reaction isn’t all that abnormal for a serious fear.
Post # 7
- Wedding: January 2021 - City, State
I have a terrible needle phobia, not this bad. What helps me is having the person taking blood/giving me shots talking to me first.
If doesn’t matter what they talk about, the weather, their hairstyle, what they’re having for lunch but it helps majorly.
i find a lot of nurses etc are quite rude about it, because I’m an adult and it’s apparently ridiculous that I feel so shaky and anxious, I used to burst into tears and have a panic attack, it’s taken me a lot of years to get that I need talked to and to figure out that’s what I needed done.
hope he can find something that makes him feel better
Post # 8
I agree with other posters that he could benefit from behavioral therapy, where he is exposed to the phobia in tiny baby steps until he can get all the way through. It works for fear of flying, elevators, it’s a great tool for anyone whose life is being stymied because of a phobia.
i also have a fear of needles but after having kids (exposed to monthly blood draws) I’m able to better manage my fear and I always tell the nurse it’s a possibility. Our office gives free flu shots and I learned some tricks to help me avoid the embarrassment of passing out in front of my employees. Laying down works great, and also having someone who can talk to you about basketball or the latest episode of the Walking Dead–as if what’s going on isn’t really happening. Remove focus from what the needle is doing because what’s going on with the thinking is what leads to the physical response.
I once passed out AND had a grand mal seizure from listening to a good friend describe the healing progress of a traumatic brain injury. We were at dinner celebrating his release from the hospital after he had been in a coma, ICU and rehab for weeks. Yep, right there in the restaurant. Don’t ever doubt the power of the mind–but it can work both ways!
Good luck bee, I really feel for him.
Post # 9
I have a phobia of needles too but it has gotten better over the years. I have the people who are drawing my bloods know before I even step in The room (there are lots of scary things to look at in there). Usually it helps keep my mind off of it when either of us start talk about my day, week, or random topic. I also use a lidocaine cream so I don’t feel the insertion. I apply it to my inner elbows and cover with saran wrap an hour before my appointment. Honestly, the first time I had blood drawn I was nervous when they drew the blood and after they sent me on my way I broke down in tears. I had a really bad experience where I almost passed out (a new girl kept missing and it was before I started using the lidocaine). I was really scared after that experience so I got a xanax from a friend and the difference was night and day. For me, my fear decreases with every good experience I have. If I knew I had to get blood done I would think about it for weeks and have freak outs even before my appointment.
I would recommend he get xanax for needle draws, apply the lidocaine cream ahead of time, tell the person before you go in to the room that you have a phobia and you don’t want to see the needle, and tell them they have one try before they have to get someone else. Usually when I tell them they will happily get the most experienced individual to draw the blood.
I hope that helps!!! Good luck!!!!
Post # 10
Thanks so much to everybody for your advice! I will say that he told the phlebotomist about his fear and his tendency to pass out as soon as they took him back- I guess the guy didn’t take him seriously. There was no offer to lay him down.
I think the part that’s different about him is that he passed out WAY before they even got a needle out- appaprently all they did was ask him to take him jacket off and touched his arm and he was down.
Post # 11
I fainted when I got a shot for before 7th grade. They wheeled me into an exam room where I was able to lay down for a while and it was fine. I HATED needles for a long long time. Then I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and had to have blood draws regularly. I got over the fear really fast because I had to. I’m a lot better now than I used to be simply because I do it more often. I still don’t like it — no one does — but it’s a lot better. I agree, therapy will likely be the answer to this.
Post # 12
Therapy for phobias can be effective. In the meantime, he could ask his doctor or a pharmacist for an EMLA patch. This my or may not be require a prescription where you live. An Emla patch looks like a bandaid but contains a local anaesthetic. You apply it about an hour before you get the blood draw or injection.It is very effective at numbing the skin.
He should always lay down for injections or blood draws.
Post # 13
Hi bee, you’ve gotten lots of good advice here so I’ll just share my personal experience a bit. I also have a pretty bad needle phobia – I will get sick, vomit, faint, cry uncontrollably, etc. It sounds like you’re really understanding of what he’s dealing with, which is amazing! It’s so hard to hear from others that “it’s just a needle” and to “get over it”. Unfortunately it’s not something you can control with a phobia as logically you’re fully aware it’s not really a big deal, but you have uncontrollable physical and psychological responses. It’s best to come at this from a place of understanding and support.
I would recommend not encouraging him to push through this on his own without some kind of help. Even when the will is there to get through a needle, a physical response can still overpower that and create another negative experience. The goal in most phobia therapies is to gradually expose the person to their phobia while creating neutral or positive experiences, which helps reduce that pesky vasovagal response a PP mentioned. Your husband could certainly benefit from the guidance of a therapist/counsellor and doctor if he’s open to it.
If he’s not keen on the idea of a therapist and wants to go try again, a combo of the Emla patch and 2 mg of lorazepam really helped me through my first ever blood draw a month ago. My doctor prescribed me a couple 1 mg pills for this – I had previously tried taking 1 mg before having an IV placed for surgery a few years ago and it did nothing! That IV to this day was the worst part of my entire tonsillectomy surgery and recovery (which as an adult was pretty brutal already). 2 mg was the golden ticket though, I was happy and high the whole time, Fiance held my hand and giggled at my responses to the lab tech and took me home after where I promptly fell asleep on the couch for a few hours. No crying, vomiting, or fainting and it was my best needle experience ever. If you take the lorazepam before you start getting anxious (I.e. Before even leaving for the draw/appointment), it can really help prevent your body from going into panic overdrive – it’s just not as effective if taken when you’re already quite elevated.
Hope this helps! Good luck to you and your husband, I feel for you both ❤️
Post # 14
I had severe needle phobia and it manifested as fight or flight, I would run away and when corned turn unusually aggressive (im really not a fighter and pretty week but im suprisingly strong when in ‘needle panic’) but like ljm308 after having to have weekly blood tests for 4 years im pretty much over it – the more normal and usual things become the less of a reaction you have to them
although ljm says ‘no one likes it’… bizzarely my fiance DOES like blood tests and donating but hes wierd lol
Post # 15
Poor guy, sounds like a phobia. Sweet he’s doing this for you. I second the comment about therapy.