Needle phobia

is there anyone here who has a child with needle phobia? my 13 yo son was dx last year (2015) and is struggling with this. our endo has been of zero assistance. in fact, affer our last appt, i am looking for a new endo, because this one put his hands on my son very roughly. then told him to grow up and stop being scared of a little needle. i could not believe what a jerk that guy was. my son has never liked him because he just does not feel as if he listens. i think telling a person with needle phobia to “get over it” is about the worst thing you could ever do.

i am looking for a therapist who is familiar with this topic but have not found anything. i am going to start looking at the bigger hospitals a few hours away next.

You might consider a pump: one stick every two or three days instead of multiple sticks with MDI. Also, using a Dexcom CGM means less fingersticks.

I’m curious how you handle injections currently. Do you do them or does your son do the actual injecting?

I would be looking for a new endo as well. It’s a bit concerning that an endo would be so crass.

As for pumping being the answer, I don’t agree. In the event of a pump failure, or even a site failure, an injection would still be needed. It would only sweep the real problem aside. Better to deal with the phobia head on.

I find this to be a difficult question to answer. On one hand, I have “needle-phobic” children who are, thankfully NOT diabetic. That doesn’t preclude a struggle with them when a needle is necessary - it’s just not a daily battle. If stress was the trigger of my diabetes, my arguments with kids over shots likely contributed to it. On the other hand, I am rather needle-phobic myself. I avoided doctors and dentists for many years because of that fear (among others, I suppose). After my diagnosis with T2D, I refused to test my blood glucose for quite a while, until I became more worried about the diabetes than I was afraid of needles. I started taking insulin only 4 months after diagnosis, and again the concern over the negative side effects I had from orals overpowered - to some degree - my fear of needles.

Been using insulin for over three years now, currently by pump, but I have to say that I am NO LESS afraid of needles now, than I was when I started – even though I KNOW that shots don’t hurt, inserting infusion sets, generally CAN’T hurt, and inserting a CGM sensor (I use that, too) almost never hurts. Funny thing is – knowing that it won’t hurt hasn’t alleviated any “fear.” I still have to steel myself every time I have to take a shot or a BG test or any of the other needles I have to use. (And feel like passing out at blood tests, no matter how many times I’ve had them… but that’s a long story… :didizzy_face: )

About 18 months ago, I needed a wisdom tooth extracted. The excellent oral surgeon knew about my fears and deliberately set out to prove to me that it would be non-threatening and painless… AND IT WAS – yet, I’m just as afraid of dental procedures as I was before.

I don’t think any of this is helping… What I’m trying to say, though, is that your son’s fears, irrational as they may be, may ease over time, or they may not. A therapist may be helpful, or may not. Changing endos is definitely a good idea – telling him to “grow up” isn’t going to fix irrational fears – I was NOT afraid of needles as a kid or as a teen! I’m not even sure what started it, but today, it’s just a fact. Does your son have any peers who have diabetes? Or perhaps there are peer groups in your area? I got involved in the ADA’s “Tour de Cure” annual fundraising bike ride, which has the added advantage of meeting lots of people affected by diabetes. Of course, there’s this forum where he might be able to connect with someone – the encouragement I needed to take shots came from the DOC (diabetes online community).

In a warped way, the endo you should leave is “right” - he will eventually have to “grow up” - at least to the point of accepting that we do many things in life that we find unpleasant or scary because we have to do them. The doctor is still completely wrong with his approach. I’m sorry you and your some have to go through this. I wish you both the best of luck and success.


I’ve had T1D for 48 years and I’m still needle phobic. I also know our community manager here @EmilyC is too! I use an insulin pump and usually use this stuff called EMLA cream to make the insertion completely painless when I’m doing it in my abdomen (when my husband helps me do it on my rear, it doesn’t seem to hurt as much). On the blood checking, I use the device that seems to win every survey on comfort - the Accu-chek Fastclix. Use the sides of the finger pads, not the center.

@Thas has some great ideas - especially meeting w other kids who have diabetes. I’d also look into seeing if there’s a JDRF chapter around you - and consider taking a family trip this year to Friends for Life - many of our members report it’s a life changing experience

definitely get a new endo asap. if you were here in northern NJ, I’d recommend mine, Dr Sameer Stas. He’s the kindest doctor I’ve ever had.

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Afrezza - Inhalable meal time insulin only of the benefits but awesome pk/pd profile - pediatric study is currently recruiting patients

Not sure of your location - but you can see if they are closer to you

Lots of superb advice here, I won’t waste space repeating any of it, except on two points:

(1) Find a new endo. You obviously have one who recognizes only the technical half of his job and is oblivious to the people half. No one deserves to have to put up with that.

(2) Do look into a therapist. A good one can work wonders. Never any guarantees, of course, but the possible outcome makes it worth the time and effort to try. Caveat: therapists are just like endos—they come in all flavors and types. Make sure it’s one your son can bond with or the resulting relationship won’t be worth the bother.

I was just thinking about the therapist angle and thought I’d send you a link to Gary Scheiner’s Practice - he actually has a Mental Health Counselor on staff who’s the Mom of a Type1 child! They do lots of remote consulting by Skype and Hangouts online. We think very highly of Gary here, and have him in for live interviews every other month.

I was also reminded of a bit of advice @Lorraine gave a new D-Mom here

give the child a choice involving the injection - not whether or not he’s going to get an injection, but perhaps who will giving it, where he’s going to inject, things like that.

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Hey glenn, I think part of the answer is to use afrezza in place of humalog/novolog . Your 13 year old will still need to do a long acting insulin once a day, but I am sure this is better then the current regimen.

I am not sure if there are any restrictions on afrezza for children… Might need to find an endo who can make a case for using it with your child if there is.

please pm me … I can connect you to a parent with his two children being type1 on Afrezza . they are 14/17

Hey Thas,
I’m sure I have you beat in the needle-phobic catagory. Been Type1 for 50 years since the age of 16. I was the small child whom the doctor had to chase around the house with needle in hand, ready to inject me with whatever he thought I needed. Yes, they did house calls in those days - lol

And when I was Dx’d in 1966 and learned the awful reality of it all, I was truly horrified. Realizing that I needed to gently plunge that hypo into my arm daily was, to me, the cruelest punishment that life was doling out. Yes, spent 2 weeks in hospital shooting up oranges (as was the usual protocol in those days).

What I’m babbling about is the fact that I will NEVER be comfortable with needles
Yes, I’m terrified going to dentists and the absolute worse, for me, is getting blood drawn. I’m not blessed with GOOD veins and have gotten terribly mutilated at the hands of many a phlebotomist. Have actually screamed out and even cried. Yes, I have no shame.

Have been on OmniPod for last 7 years and despite the relative ease of use, I still tense up when PDM does the clicking count-down and that small micro needle pierces my skin.

So, I will gladly take the title of Diabetic Chicken Little!

Phobias have nothing whatever to do with logic. Thas knows the needles don’t hurt but they still scare the dickens out of him. That’s what phobias are: non-rational by definition. We all have 'em, we just have different ones. As it happens, I am a “lucky” diabetic (assuming there is such a thing): needles don’t bother me in the least. But I have my own personal set of totally irrational screaming-panic-inducers. That just doesn’t happen to be one of them.

All part of the human condition. Empathy is the order of the day—or should be.

:relaxed: :heart:

i was this way at 1st. now that I’m on a pump. I’m down from 14 to more injections. to one ever 3 days. a pump will help out a lot.

You are so right, Eric. In my opinion, nothing beats the pod.

If only I had a never-ending supply of them I’d be soooo happy!

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And David, you are Very lucky not to be a scaredy/cat such as myself!

The pod does make it a little easier, though its insertion felt a bit too “aggressive” to me. I did more than jump every time it fired! Currently using Vibe and Inset infusion sets. I have to steel myself to squeeze the “trigger” but with the way the whole plastic circle (needle in the middle) hits, exciting all the nerves at once makes it almost impossible to feel the needle. Doesn’t stop the fear, but does generally make it painless for me

Pointing out to Caleb that he was still empowered to make decisions for certain things was very effective. Knowing he hadn’t lost complete control over everything in his life proved to be very valuable to him.


As @MarieB mentioned, I’m afraid of needles, too. I’ve had T1 since I was 3 years old (so, before I can remember), and in the almost 40 years since then I have not been able to rid myself of that fear.

The thing that has helped me the most has been to find distractions. I sing a song while injecting/inserting, or actively think about something else, and try to get it done as quickly as I can. Mind tricks, basically. Really, my thought is this: I can and will do ANYTHING to help myself get through the moment (even if it’s weird), and the only thing that is not an option is to not do my insulin.

I’m guessing your son won’t want to make a scene in public, but maybe this sort of strategy could help at home, and then he can repeat it in his head when he’s out in the world?


Using Afrezza would help greatly, but currently they will not prescribe for a child. If you can get into the clinical trials that would be helpful. And an insulin pump would help greatly. Using EMLA cream (if you put EMLA on 1 hour before instead of the 45 minutes you definitely won’t feel anything). Yes, you will have to do site changes if there are problems. Mom or another adult, perhaps the school nurse, would have to be on hand. Right now, because of the problems getting Afrezza and it not being prescribed for pediatric use, I would say the pump would be your best bet, along with a therapist to work on the needle phobia. It is for just this reason that Afrezza should be prescribed.

I would get a new endo, deal with the phobia with someone trained to do that and get on a pump. It will be easier, he will probably have better control and there will be less injections.

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