Fear of needles/ inserting new infusion set/ sensor

Hi everyone,
I’ve been diagnosed (DM1) for over 13 years and am over 30 years old, yet I still sometimes cannot deal with all the needles in my life. I am usually ok with my pump infusion sets- I have to change them every 3 days so it’s often, and I have a spring-loaded inserter device for it which helps me insert quickly and properly. I just got a Dexcom CGM in August, and inserting a new sensor brings up every ounce of anxiety in my body. As I type this, I have a new sensor set stuck to my leg, but have not yet been able to plunge the needle into my skin so I could take everything off and attach the transmitter. I’ve been trying to get myself to do it for over half an hour.
Does anyone else experience this? I’m not as used to the Dexcom and the needles are bigger than with my other stuff, so it’s logical that it’s more “scary,” but I’m really sick of wasting so much time on stupid anxiety. I’ve neglected to insert a new sensor for a few days in between a couple of times, just because I didn’t have the time to waste. That means I’m not utilizing this technology that I’ve wanted for a long time to help me control my numbers.
I go to therapy and have not brought this up yet – I’m even considering finding a hypnotherapist! I’ve had a fear of needles forever (ex: I never get a flu shot because I don’t want to deal with it), so it makes dealing with diabetes that much tougher.
Thanks for reading this long post - I look forward to everyone’s responses!

1 Like

I’m sorry you have to deal with this fear. It’s like Fate has a cruel sense of humor! Hypnotism and talk therapy sound like good lines of inquiry. I’ve never had this fear so its hard for me to know what it feels like. It is a direct impediment for you to take care of what needs to be done to live. Good luck. I hope you find some way to deal with this!

I don’t have this issue with Dexcom, but had some of this when using the Medtronic CGMS. What worked for me was to just count, 1-2-3 GO ! (or 3-2-1 Go !) Or start with 10 or whatever works for you.

If you experience pain, there is a cream you can get that will numb skin. You apply it, and wait about 10 min. (Sorry I forgot the name of it).

EMLA is the name of the anesthetic cream, if I’m not mistaken.

1 Like

Any topical lidocaine would also work.

One is called Topicaine.

1 Like

I have a fear of needles as well. I have to take a breath and convince myself to the the next step - plunge the needle, squeeze the inserter, press the button, or press the plunger on the Dexcom inserter - every time. I think I can count the number of times it’s actually hurt on my fingers, yet I am nervous every time. I also avoid flu shots both because of the needle and the bad skin reaction I have every time. Blood tests are, well, interesting - I have to warn the phlebotomist that I have been known to be faint after the blood draw…

I can’t tell you HOW to overcome the fear – for me, it’s a matter of being more afraid of the consequences of NOT taking care of diabetes to the best of my ability. I really want to live a healthy life, so some things just have to be endured – though, as you know, the fear does not go away with time/experience.



Thanks! I’ll ask my doc in a couple weeks at my appt.

Thanks @Thas . I fortunately am totally cool with blood draws (although I’ve had a few weird ones) since it’s just a tiny pinch. This Dexcom needle is just so big and overwhelming! I think it’s also knowing that if I screw it up, there goes a week’s “supply” of sensor, and also it takes a few hours to realize it didn’t go in properly. The fact that the very first one I did wasn’t inserted properly and I had to remove it after trying to get it to connect for several hours is likely another culprit for my fear of doing it wrong and going through my overreaction for naught.

When I was first diagnosed I’d sometimes sit there for 2 hours trying to do my bedtime shot of Lantus. That may have to do with Lantus stinging and then making my whole body hurt all day more than just the needle fear though :slight_smile:

1 Like

I hear ya. You know, if you screw up an insertion, just call Dexcom - they’ll replace the sensor. I think my biggest motivation for leaving sensors in more than one week is because I fear the - mostly painless- insertions. Sure, the second and usually third weeks work better, but my biggest motivation is the insertion.

My first shot was Levemir, and my doctor gave me the shots and told me to take it the next day on my own. I needed a lot of coaching - from friends online - to get through that first injection. First time I took a shot in my arm, I did NOT feel it AT ALL – and 10 seconds later, I was heading to the floor! Oops.

Thanks @MM1 - have you used this cream? Do you apply it then clean the area with lots of alcohol 10 min later?

Fear and anxiety of needles is really common. None of us naturally like stabbing ourselves. Most of us lose our fear and anxiety of needles simply because we do it many times. But if it still remains this is probably something you could be really successful treating with a good therapist. There is a form of therapy called exposure therapy that is used to treat anxiety. But you can still have ongoing fears or anxiety that may be rooted in specific incidents and situations in your past. Through exploring that and overcoming that you can likely deal with this. Please talk to your therapist about this. Hopefully, some day, perhaps in just a few weeks, you will inject yourself and/or insert a new site without anxiety and wonder what the big deal was.

1 Like

I’ve had d for 49 years and I have this fear. I use EMLA when I do my own infusion set ( when my husband does it for me I dont). but you have to put it on about an hour before, not 10 min.


MarieB this is a question for you. It is off topic but since you are here I thought I would ask. I have noticed you use the Spirit Combo and wondered if you use the bolus calculator? If so, how do you incorporate infusion set primes into that? Do you just keep in mind you don’t have the insulin working that the calculator thinks you do? Just curious.

I did use EMLA, which is a prescription cream, but it was not for my sensors. I used it prior to chemo treatments for the port site. I put it on just prior to leaving my house, so it would have been closer to an hour by the time the IV was poked into my port. And they always cleaned the site first.

So I agree with Maria, regarding the wait.

AE13 mentioned alternative, which I believe is not Rx, since I saw it on Amazon. I think the AZ product contains only one of the 2 ingredients in EMLA, but may be just as effective.

And good news… I understand the next generation of Dexcom sensors will come with improved inserter, spring loaded instead of manual push.

1 Like

The first time I started with the Dexcom G5 I was determined that I was going to do it myself as I was learning to take control of my D and figured it was all part and parcel of taking ownership. Here’s what really happened…

I attached the Dexcom to my abdomen and held my finger on the plunger trying to work up my nerves but after 5 minutes realized I needed more motivation. So I spent the next hour or so watching youtube videos of others inserting the Dexcom. After awhile I thought I could do it and spent the next five minutes with my finger on the plunger. Couldn’t make myself do it so I watched the Dexcom training videos again. Tried to get myself to push the plunger again but no go. I then decided that I would just grab a heavy book and smack the darned plunger in.:joy: I chickened out with that too. During all of this my anxiety was skyrocketing and tears were shed. Finally, my husband who had been checking on me periodically, had had enough. He handed me tissues to dry my tears and as I was wiping them with the tissues he just reached over and did it for me. :astonished:

Since May and have yet to hit the plunger on the needle myself and that’s okay. I’m entitled to feel the way I feel and I am blessed to have a supportive spouse who’s willing to help out. I feel a little less anxious each time and do think that I will eventually work up my courage as it really doesn’t hurt…more like a quick sting. I guess it just knowing its coming. Admittedly I am hoping that the auto insertor comes out quickly. :wink:


Good for him, and you! Love has many faces.


When I was diagnosed last year I thought, are you kidding me God? I was terrified of needles and have white coat syndrome - Doctor fear, medical facility stress, and too much love carbs. My parents did xIV drugs in front of us growing up and my mom died of cancer after years of doctors when When I was 27 and she was 45. I found out the T1D when I was 44. For years before I have had my husband and friends come with me for doctors appointments and shots and blood draws, to literally hold my hand. I have passed out in the phlebotomist chair and would run if they lifted the arm across my lap. After I sobbed about the diagnosis I decided if I got this it is better than getting something else and I will just have to deal. My grandmother always said God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. It wasn’t and isn’t easy. For the first couple weeks I teared/cried with every shot. My husband is a nurse practitioner but I wouldn’t let him give shots, just information. My assistant (who had experience due to her mom) would sit with me and count to help. Then I saw some YouTube videos of children with T1D giving shots and using CGMs and cArrying and explaining diabetic supplies in school. There was a 3year old that told their omnipod to “be brave” when she helped inject it with insulin with and then Herself when injected and that made me fall apart. Now I tell myself to be brave, take some deep breaths, and keep up that mantra as needed. I remind myself that if little kiddos have to deal with this, I can! It is not easy, ever, but I do it. I started with the CGM from Medtronic that has a nice inserted and changed to Dexcom which is yuck, but if you just know you can live through anything for 10 seconds, you can do it! It gets me through.

yes I do. I think you mean the cannula fill. (I don’t think the infusion set priming is counted as IOB.) but the cannula fill (I give it .5) is. I always check my bg when I change out, and because I normally do that in the AM when I’m usually battling DP, I just add an extra .5 to whatever the bolus calculator says.

Marie - that’s interesting. For the minimed pump, the cannula fill DOES NOT count as IOB.