Fear of Needles

I wrote this essay for my Sociology 200 class for School. I liked it so much I'm putting it here. If for whatever reason a plagiarism program finds this,My name is Tim McDonald and I'm giving myself permission to reuse my own work...

...apparently this happens and I'm not taking chances. Anyway, onto the paper.

I have type 1 diabetes, and I have suffered with it for over sixteen years. This illness requires me to take upwards of six injections every single day. I take one in the morning, one at night, and one every time I eat. In addition to all these shots, I also have to prick my fingers four to ten times a day to check my blood glucose level. Needless to say, I’ve seen my fair share of needles in my life. In fact, even with a low estimate of four shots and four finger pricks a day, I have been stabbed over forty-six thousand times! This may sound terrible, but when the alternative is death by either organ failure, gangrene, or starvation, a person is forced to tolerate it.

Even though I am used to routine stabbings, people around me are not. I have gotten many weird looks and even insults by other people just for trying to keep myself alive. They say things like “Do you have to do that here?” or “Eww gross, I’m scared of needles!” Some people have even accused me of shooting up drugs! One time, I had a cop threaten me with tear gas!

My question is “why?” Why are needles scary? Why does one drop of blood cause people to freak out? Why is the simple act of keeping myself alive socially deviant?

People in our culture have huge fears of needles. They fear going to the doctor for routine immunizations because of scary and painful needles. If this phobia stopped at the doctor’s office, I would not even have a problem. However, this fear has gotten to the point where people can’t even look at a needle without panicking. After sixteen years of diabetes, I do not comprehend this. Why would someone be afraid of a needle that isn’t even pointed at them? It’s not like I’ll suddenly go on a mass stabbing spree with my insulin pen.

I have occasionally been told to go to the bathroom in order to take my injections. One person even demanded I go somewhere else because I was making him and his friends “uncomfortable.” I politely told him “go *censored* yourself” and continued with my injection anyway. Apparently, a six millimeter syringe is so hideous that I have to shy away from society into our dirtiest of rooms just to keep myself alive. Even though I pretended that his comment didn’t affect me, it really does. Comments like that are not very good for self-esteem. They cause some diabetics to skip their medications all together. These people are risking their own health just to keep the rest of the population happy.

I like to compare my situation to a breastfeeding mother. They have the right to feed their child wherever and whenever they please, and I have the right to do the same with my injections. If a restaurant or store decides to kick a mother out for being “indecent”, the story makes the news and the event becomes a major public relations disaster.
Even though some women abuse this right and just flop their breasts out to let their baby dig in, most realize this doesn’t help their image. They try to be conservative and cover up a little so they won’t offend anyone. I do the same with my insulin injections. While I could stand up and stab myself awkwardly in the arm in front of everybody, most of the time I’ll discretely inject into my stomach under the table to hide it from view. I guess this just isn’t enough for society.

Until people stop seeing needles as scary things, my struggle with being a diabetic in public will continue. I’m not saying that everyone should love doctors. A person has every right to be nervous about shots. I’m also not saying to be careless around needles, especially used ones. If I see a random syringe on the ground, you bet I would put on some thick gloves before picking it up. That thing could have diseases on it! However, if you see a diabetic discretely giving himself an injection with a sterile syringe when out in public, please don’t make a big deal out of it. He will be glad you did.

very well said

Thanks for resharing this. Every once in awhile, we have to be reminded that we've all been through the same things, just at different times in different ways. Being a 15 year diabetic, but a new insulin user.....I don't find anything over the top, yet know that some do find injecting, and even testing a hassle in public,. Glad you shared!

I have found that I don't get rude comments very often but when they do I remember them. I have been a diabetic and taken insulin for 17 years. In that amount of time, dumb comments are bound to happen. Maybe you live in an area with better people. haha

Guess I must....but that doesn't mean I don't see "stupid" people.Some even diabetics still believe that it's a disease of the "unclean". I must have done something very terrible to be a diabetic.