Tag Archives: needles

I’m not scared of anything

I’m not afraid of anything. Except scorpions. I woke up in the middle of the night a few weeks ago, I opened my eyes and I saw this scorpion just inches away from me on the pillow. And I didn’t know what to do, should I move? Do these things react depending on how I react? Should I stay still? I couldn’t do anything, but I couldn’t just sit there and not do anything. The whole time, that growing feeling of dread was overtaking my whole body. What had started out as a pit in my stomach was spreading upwards, through my throat, out across my neck to my arms. Just when I felt like my heart was going to overload, I blinked, and when I opened my eyes, I started to get the sense that there wasn’t really a scorpion there at all, but it was just a weird way in which the fabric of the pillow was bunched up. And yeah, I had been asleep, and that’s happened before, you wake up and you see something across the room and it takes you a minute to get your wits about you.


Still, I’m basically fearless. Unless we’re talking about heights. I wouldn’t call it a fear, exactly. It’s more like an innate terror, something that my body isn’t really in control of. Like, I take a look down, and whatever sort of instincts drive my most basic decision making process, they start sending out panic-induced distress signals, “Rob, abort, get down from wherever you’re at.” If I’m on an airplane, or a Ferris wheel, or even if I’m just watching a movie or a Youtube clip featuring somebody doing something high up off the ground, I get that sweaty palm sensation, which speaks to my empathic abilities, to really put myself in the shoes of anybody. Who knows? Maybe it’s hereditary. Maybe all of my ancestors died horrible deaths after falling from a great height, and through evolution, that fear has been passed down to me, to hopefully prevent me from meeting a similar fate. In which case it’s an advantage.

But no, besides scorpions and heights, I’d have to say that I’m not really scared of anything. Wait, I forgot to mention heartburn. I’m pretty scared of heartburn, not that I suffer from it that often, it’s definitely not a chronic problem. It’s just that, I remember this one time in college, I went to the cafeteria, waited on the line for the omelet station. Usually I’d just grab something premade, but on this day I guess I felt like I deserved something fresh, like it was worth the wait. “Give me everything,” I told the omelet guy, and he said, “OK,” using those mini tongs to pile in a little bit from each container, peppers, onions, cheese, everything. And it was great, but right afterwards, I started getting what I’d later identify as heartburn, that stinging right below the chest. There was no relief, laying down didn’t help, I couldn’t walk it off. Finally I went to the nurse and explained my symptoms. She gave me a bottle of Tums and told me to take four every half hour. And it worked. But still, that feeling, I’m still terrified of that burning, it felt like I was being eaten alive from the inside.

Also, carcinogens, I’m really afraid of carcinogens, all of them, yellow number-five, the stuff that’s in plastic bottles, harmful radiation from the sun, I’m afraid of all of it. One time I read this article about how if you keep your laptop on your lap, then that’s basically a carcinogen, because you’re irradiating your lap. So I threw out that laptop and started only using my phone. And then I read something else about how phones might cause brain abnormalities. So I threw out the phone and I exclusively use my desktop computer.

Wait, I forgot germs, and this ties in, because the desktop computer use is also a way to make sure I’m not touching anybody else’s keyboard, OK, and they’re not using mine. Because we’re getting into flu season, and I can’t afford to start thinking about the flu, if only I weren’t so scared of needles, or vaccinations, I could get a flu shot and sleep easy for a while. But even just the cold, isn’t it always cold season? Or strep throat. One time this guy at work told me that he was recovering from strep throat, and so I quit, no way.

I think I’m getting carried away, but I’m actually very brave, it takes a lot to rattle me. What was that? Did you hear that? I think someone’s at the front door. I can’t be positive that it might not be an attacker. Look, just, if you’re reading this, do me a favor, use your germ-ridden cell phone and call the cops, tell them to swing by and just kind of drive really slowly in front of my house, just to, you know, scare away any would-be home invaders. I think they’re still knocking. Hurry up, all right? I can’t take the sitting here, squirming, imagining all of the hundred different ways in which this is all going to crash down around me, just wind up horribly, horribly wrong.

Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!

I just got the flu shot today. This year’s shot hurt so much more than all of the other years combined. I hate shots. I hate the idea of somebody puncturing my body with a needle. How do they know exactly where to stick it? Isn’t my arm just muscle? So are they really just taken all of that liquid and squirting it inside my muscle? How does that get to where it needs to go inside of me?

I figured I’d write something all about shots. Mostly complaints. Mostly out of order and out of context, little sentences and anecdotes that don’t really have anything to do with each other. Like when I was a little kid and the nurses had to hold me down in the doctor’s office so the doctor could inject me. Or about those crazy moms and dads in America that think that the US government is injecting autism into their children via regular immunizations.

I’ve gotten tons of shots. When I was in the Peace Corps, the first three months were devoted to basically receiving vaccines on a full time basis. We got the flu shot. We got the swine flu shot. They gave us vaccines for everything. And we couldn’t opt out of anything. Not that I wanted to opt out of any shots. I’m not a huge fan of communicable tropical diseases. But there were some other people that put up a big stink.

Some of those shots were harmless. Whooping cough. Yellow fever. But I remember that everybody got the Typhoid shot and felt really sick the next day. That was kind of an unsettling thought, that this preventative injection gave us all a twenty-four hour bug. But whatever, I’d rather be sick for a day than to have Typhoid. I don’t even know what Typhoid is. I don’t even know what yellow fever is.

And I don’t want to know. I don’t know if anybody else feels the same way, but whenever I look up diseases or infections, I get crazy, I get to thinking that I have magically contracted whatever it is I’ve looked up. Or worse, I’ll know that I don’t have it, but I’ll be reading the symptoms and imagining what they’d feel like if I did have them, and a lot of the time that’s even worse than actually being sick.

Because really, what are the symptoms for most diseases? Chills. Headache. Fever. Aching. That’s why whenever somebody tells me that they have the flu, and this totally depends on who tells me, but usually I’m going to call bullshit. Really? You have the flu? I’ll be talking to somebody one day, and they’re fine, and then the next day they have a fever, and it’s automatically the flu.

You know the flu kills tons of people every year, right? Maybe you do have the flu, I have no idea. But I’m just guessing that you don’t. Every once in a while I’ll get sick for a day or two, and I’ll have a fever. I’ll take a bunch of Advil and hopefully after a few days I’m good. But the flu? I’ve always imagined the flu, for an adult in his twenties, to be two weeks incapacitated by a virus that would kill a man in his seventies. This is something that’s going to confine you to your bed, that’s going to put pain and pressure on every bone in your body.

Most every day that I have to go to work, I think to myself, man, I wish I were just sick enough to warrant staying home and calling in sick. I picture the flu to be you stuck in bed wishing that you could work indefinitely for little to no pay only for an hour’s relief from the hell that this virus is wreaking on your whole body.

And that’s why I get a flu shot every year. I’m in my prime right now. I know I probably don’t need it. Whenever I talk to people my age about a flu shot, nobody ever gets it. Nobody takes the flu seriously.

But I get it every year. And getting back to where I started, I think that there has to be a bulls-eye in your arm, the sweet spot of where that needle is supposed to hit. Because sometimes the needle goes clean in, like you’re waiting for the nurse to give you the shot, and you’re clenching your teeth and holding your eyes shut, but the nurse goes, “OK, that’s it,” and you don’t even need that band aid, like it’s totally not necessary.

But then you get days like today, where I got my shot and I not only felt the needle pricking my skin, but I felt it enter, I could tell ever millimeter of the way how far it had penetrated into my muscle. And I could even feel the liquid vaccine being pressed by this person’s hand into my arm. And now my arm’s very sore, like I can’t even lift it up all the way.

Why can’t we do it like they do it in Star Trek? Seriously, you ever see that? It’s called a hypo-spray. You can inject it through the clothing. That would make my year so much better. Because even after this sore arm heals, I’m going to have to deal with emotional trauma for months, of being pricked, of being hurt.

You know what? I think next year I’m going to ask that nurse if they have any sort of a vaccine that can stop me from constantly whining about all the shots I have to take, from complaining about how the band aid used after the injection, about how it hurts so much when it’s on my arm all day and I have to pull it off at the end, and it’s all stuck to my skin. But I’m going to ask if they have an oral vaccine because, I don’t know, after today I really don’t feel like getting any more shots, not for a while anyway.