Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

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Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

Post by InkAndComb on Fri Dec 12, 2014 8:36 pm

Hello all! Second topic, this one is a doozy for me.

Does anyone else fear certain medical procedures/ struggle with anxiety for going to the doctor?

I have 2 medical procedures that I need to have taken care of; one is a tetanus shot of which I am, I believe, 3 years overdue (yeek!) and also a particularly painful lady procedure.

I am terrified of the first (Strong phobia, not fear, of needles). I am, to the point of mentally blocking it out, horrified of the second. Which brings me to this:

How do people go to exams or appointments when they know they will be facing a great phobia or fear? How do you get the guts to attend something you "need" to go to, but can't logic yourself into getting there?

I have had multiple people try to "scare" me into going. Maybe this works for non-anxious individuals ("What if you get CANCER?! Huh? Then you'll feel silly you didn't go!" ), but it has not worked out for me. I am getting desperate here, I need to take care of these things but can't seem to do it.
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Re: Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:22 pm

Mine is generally a focus on "this sucks and is horrible but the alternative is so, so much worse. Might as well suck up the bad before it becomes the terrible".

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Re: Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

Post by Caffeinated on Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:48 pm

Maybe if you have a supportive friend (not the kind that tries to scare you!) who could come with you as both someone to help you feel calmer in the moment and also as someone to help physically get you to go.

Another recommendation would be to ask around about a doctor with a great bedside manner. Dealing with someone who treats you kindly and gently and who understands that you have anxiety about medical things and need some help with that can be worlds away from someone who is just coldly professional. I've seen both kinds of doctors, and it made a big difference. Of course, it can be hard to find a doctor for grownups with a great bedside manner (somehow they all seem to go into pediatrics) but hopefully not impossible.

Along the same lines, when you first arrive at the doctor's office and are in the "small talk with the nurse or assistant or doctor" phase of things, I found it's helpful to answer their "how are you doing" type question with a frank admission that you are feeling anxious or scared of being there. If you alert them to your feelings, they might have ways of dealing with those feelings to help you through it.

Last, something I saw recommended for kids but I think would work with grownups too, is video games. Like, bring your phone or tablet or a handheld game and play while you get the shot or other procedure. There was some article talking about how the strong distraction of playing a video game while getting a shot or other medical thing helped kids more than any of the other methods they studied.

Good luck!
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Re: Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

Post by Kiskadee on Fri Dec 12, 2014 10:34 pm

This is probably a personality thing, and I don't mean to imply that Caffeinated's advice is bad at all, but I find the opposite to be helpful.

I much prefer cooler medical professional over the ones who try to make me happy and relaxed to be there (not gonna happen). To me it hurts less if I can just be thinking about something else and the worker doesn't keep trying to call attention to herself and the procedure (ei. don't lecture me about how little it will hurt, just do it quick!).

I've gotten pretty good at just dissociating completely from what's happening. Maybe that would help you? Definitely take this with a grain of salt - just thought it might help you to hear different opinions and consider what might be best for you personally.
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Re: Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

Post by InkAndComb on Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:02 pm

Thanks for the responses! GJ, that's what I've been trying so far, but I have still not been able to get my tetanus shot. At this point I can only assume my jerkbrain is having a real laugh with my anxiety :S

Hmm, I think bedside manner is something I haven't been considering strongly enough. I've been having issues with finding new doctors where I've moved, and really my focus has been on what locations are covered by my insurance. I think I'll ask around for people who are either calm or friendly at the bedside; so far everyone has been very brusque (and this tends to intimidate me!).

I do find it difficult at my age (25); it's like the expectations of adult fears are so high that I can't find anyone sympathetic to panicking at the sight of needles or being nervous. It doesn't help that I came from a town with a TON of medical professionals (the medical school was nearby) to a town in podunk nowhere :I
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Re: Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:23 pm

Needles were not involved, but when I had to have a wart surgically cut off of my foot, the podiatrist gave me a piece of paper explaining what to do for the next thirty days or so, to take care of the wound and help it heal faster. Reading it top to bottom repeatedly while chatting with him and his assistant (even about the surgery itself) helped keep my mind off what was happening. It might have helped that his deadpan snarky sadistic/morbid sense of humor was perfect for me, too.

Most of the times I've gotten shots, the person administering them told me to look away while they were doing it—even though I don't have a fear of needles. (I honestly don't know why not, given that I literally stepped on the wrong side of a pincushion when I was a kid.) I figure looking away is probably good practice regardless, though; I've noticed burns, cuts, and scrapes start feeling a lot worse once I start visually inspecting them, so needles probably work the same way, and nobody wants you making any sudden moves while you're getting your shots! And if looking away from something is good, looking at something is probably better. Some kind of reading material you can hold in one hand, perhaps?

I know it comes with a lot of its own (social) anxieties, but you might try asking your doctor(s) if they have anything else to help you with your phobia or nervousness; I seriously doubt you're the only one they've ever known to feel that way.
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Re: Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

Post by IHaveToes on Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:51 pm

I usually promise myself something I really like (Krispy Kreme) if I go do the thing that I'm scared of/hate.

What helps me with needles (they turn my stomach, seeing needles on TV makes me close my eyes until it's over), is having the doctor/nurse tell me exactly what they're doing and why. It helps me intellectualize the process and disassociate a bit.

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Re: Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

Post by InkAndComb on Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:52 pm

Extra delayed response, but I've compiled everyone's suggestions and I'm making an appointment this week! Thanks for all the support everyone, it's a relief to get advice besides "why are you looking at the needle stahhhhhp" xD

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Re: Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

Post by Caffeinated on Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:03 pm

InkAndComb wrote:Extra delayed response, but I've compiled everyone's suggestions and I'm making an appointment this week! Thanks for all the support everyone, it's a relief to get advice besides "why are you looking at the needle stahhhhhp" xD


Yay! That's a big step, good for you!
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Re: Fear of The Procedure (Advice Needed!)

Post by Conreezy on Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:50 pm

On the other side of the needle, here's what I've done for very anxious adults. (Maybe don't read this if you think it'll make you more anxious):
I prepare everything behind their back.  I tell them to close their eyes, if it helps.  Taking out the syringe/needle, drawing up the medication...I do it all where they can't see it, because it's usually a pretty bad trigger.  

Then I do the whole "on 3" countdown, but I give the shot on 1.  It's a cheap trick, I know, but if they're going to tense up or pull away, it'll be on 3.  I keep counting aloud, and the whole thing is over by 3.

This doesn't work very well for children, though.

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