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Sudden Needle Anxiety

Arden's Day Blog

Arden's Day is a type I diabetes care giver blog written by author Scott Benner. Scott has been a stay-at-home dad since 2000, he is the author of the award winning parenting memoir, 'Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal'. Arden's Day is an honest and transparent look at life with diabetes - since 2007.

type I diabetes, parent of type I child, diabetes Blog, OmniPod, DexCom, insulin pump, CGM, continuous glucose monitor, Arden, Arden's Day, Scott Benner, JDRF, diabetes, juvenile diabetes, daddy blog, blog, stay at home parent, DOC, twitter, Facebook, @ardensday, 504 plan, Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal, Dexcom SHARE, 生命是短暂的,洗衣是永恒的, Shēngmìng shì duǎnzàn de, xǐyī shì yǒnghéng de

Sudden Needle Anxiety

Scott Benner

"What is that"?

Those words surprised the hell out of me when Arden spoke them almost one year after we switched from injections to an insulin pump. I'd personally stuck Arden with tens of thousands of needles in those first two years and I would have bet my life that, even though we hadn't used one in almost a year, she wouldn't have forgotten what a syringe looked like or what it was for.

Arden was diagnosed with type I diabetes at the age of two in the summer of 2006 and we switched to insulin pumping in February of 2009; for a solid year after the switch we never needed an injection. 

Since that day, I'd call Arden's relationship with needles one of tolerance. That is, she doesn't like them, she doesn't hate them. We inject insulin sporadically, she gets an annual blood draw at the Endo and once in a great while... she needs dental work. Never a problem. Arden chats through blood draws, winces a bit in the dentist chair and aside from wanting to pick the injection site, doesn't much mind a periodic insulin injection.

Until recently.

A few months ago Arden had two teeth removed in preparation for braces and the procedure required her to get an injection in her pallet. The procedure went smoothly and without incident. Last month her dentist discovered a surface cavity on one of her molars (I blame overnight juice drinking), the cavity was so small that the dentist scheduled a thirty minute appointment and told us that we would't need all of the time.

I cruised into the dentist office without a care in the world, like I said, this sort of thing is never a problem but Arden did not want to get out of my car. Actually, I'm understating this - she was refusing to get out of the car, she held the door in a death grip and began to tell me how she has been dreading this visit all week. I could see that she was not joking, this visit had been weighing heavily on her mind. We talked our way through the fear (I thought) and went inside. 

I never could have guessed what would happen next.

When she sat in the chair she was nervous but seemed resolved to go through with it. The doc (Great guy) prepped her mouth without issue but when he picked up the needle... Arden brought her legs to her chest wrapped her arms tight around them and refused to allow him near her mouth. She protested, argued and even screamed at the poor man. Everyone's best efforts couldn't change her mind. We adjourned, rescheduled and tried again two weeks later.

Same result.

After the second attempt, I made an appointment with a dentist who uses laughing gas and that appointment went fine. In the interim however, Arden had her quarterly Endo appointment and it was blood draw time. 

Now maybe I'm a simpleton but I never saw a parallel between what happened in the dentist office and a blood draw. Needless to say, I was unprepared when Arden went on the offensive when the nurse at our Endo office brought out the syringe.

I let our dentist take the helm and followed his lead even though my parenting instinct was to be a little more forceful with the situation. I found myself standing in his office thinking, "I know that my father would have held me still and let the dentist work - is that what I should be doing?". The dentist was thoughtful, kind and cerebral. Arden was resolute. I was not sure how to handle this new situation.

When Arden protested similarly in our Endo office I immediately thought, "I have to nip this in the bud... my diabetic daughter can't spend her life making threatening gestures when nurses approach her with needles". I initially stood back to see how the nurse wanted to handle the situation, she wasn't taking any shit and honestly I thought, "Thank you". I'm all for kids having a say and I don't want to scar her but this was nuts and needed to be stopped before Arden felt like this was her new normal. The nurse made it clear that she was taking blood today, I backed her play and a few minutes later it was finished... I found myself wondering if that was the move we should have employed at the dentist. As it turns out, when Arden was faced with the reality of having a second nurse hold her still, she liked that idea even less than getting a needle. She choose between the evils and held still for her blood draw. It was uneventful just as they have always been and when it was over, Arden saw that she was overreacting. I am very happy that the nurse pushed her to comply and that I was clear-minded enough this time to follow my gut.

I'm sharing this story today for two reasons. First, I want you to know this may happen and that we handled it, but that it took a little bit of 1976 parenting to get us there. Second, I really wanted to say this next bit in context.

Please, don't turn to me when my daughter looks scared of a needle and say, "Huh, I would think that because of all of the times she gets stuck, this wouldn't be a big deal" and really don't say, "I thought she'd be tougher since she deals with diabetes every day".

Needles suck, they hurt and they are scary even if you get stuck with them a lot. If you're looking for a comparison how about if I punch you in the face ten times a day for, lets say ten years, and then see if you don't still flinch on the first day of year eleven... when I draw my fist back.

People who deal with extra life challenges deserve support, not overly critical analysis. You're good people and I can see that you mean well, but for the love God think before you speak - please.