Feb 232013

“You just need to grow the hell up and get over it.” –  Anesthesiologist while trying to place an IV in a  severely needle phobic mother.

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 February 23, 2013  anesthesiologist, labor  Add comments

  61 Responses to ““You Just Need To Grow The Hell Up & Get Over It.””

  1. “Oh, yeah, why didn’t I think of that?”

  2. “Get the hell out of my room. I have now declined the IV and I no longer want you involved in my care.”

  3. All phobias are due to immaturity. It has nothing to do with irrational fear or trama. I guess watching my mother almost die from a spider bite has little to do with my arcana phobia, it’s just I’m childish. Hmmm.

    • Exactly. Lets stick all claustraphobics in a dark closet to cure them, dangle those with a fear of heights from a hot air balloon and stick arachnophobics in a glass room full of spiders. That’ll teach them.

      • Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket! And for those of us with phobias of dark water containing large fish with teeth, (aka, the ocean), just dump us out in the middle of shark-infested waters…and those afraid of all water, same thing, but further out in the ocean. Gosh, all the phobias we could cure with just a few ounces of callousness and insensitivity, and a dash of sadism! And these hospitals pride themselves on administering the finest “care” around. (Oy!)

        • That *is* in fact how you ‘cure’ a phobia, repeated exposure to the cause of the phobia. People pay thousands to get a ‘professional’ to lock them in dark closests, dangle snakes in front of them, make them pet tarantulas, rub dirt on themselves, listen to tape recordings of ambulance sirens, etc.
          Not excusing the comment, but yeah, that is in fact ‘the ticket’.

          • Except that’s usually done with the opposite of callousness and takes a lot of time.

          • Exactly. It’s called desensitization and it is a *gradual* process (maybe start by looking at pictures of spiders, then video, then a live spider in a tank, etc all the while implementing coping techniques to deal with the resulting anxiety). You don’t lock a claustrophobic person in a closet without any other behavioral treatment in place and say ‘you’re cured’…

          • Yes, in a controlled, heavily monitored environment, after usually weeks of preparatory therapy, by a professional in exposure therapy.

            Forcing a pregnant patient into a high-anxiety environment without any kind of psychiatric support is not only bad medicine, it’s dangerous for anyone to do. But, hey, it’s in a hospital where nothing ever goes wrong, ever.

  4. This is why I’m declining i.v access. They need to have medical evidence as to why I “need” it, and because of “it’s policy” doesn’t cut it.

    • Amen to that! The best thing I’ve learned in researching pregancy and birth is, “Policy is not law. And until it becomes law, I am not obligated to consent to it, unless you can provide REAL evidence that it’s necessary to preserve my health.” In fact, I think that might go into my birth plan. Hope it doesn’t have to. :)

    • I am dealing with the same thing in my impending L&D right now. I think I will not only have that in the birth plan, but it will probably be highlighted!

      • I’m going to tape my birth “plan” on the door. I’ve had a home birth before and know what’s medically necessary and what’s not. Good luck.

        • I wouldn’t tape it on the door, I would recommend taping it next to the machine that goes ping though. If you want to decline an IV, I do recommend a separate sign tapes to the IV pole stating something along the lines of, “I decline routine IV fluids. I would like to stay hydrated by drinking clear fluids. I understand that I might have to sign a waiver or AMA form stating that I understand the slight increase in the risk of aspiration if I vomit during general anesthesia in the case of an emergency cesarean. This decision is based on the guidelines of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. They recommend that low risk women be allowed clear liquids (broth, gelatin, non-particulate drinks, etc.) during labor.”

    • And what about MY policy to bodily integrity? Whose policy trumps whose?

    • How would you know medical evidence if you saw it?

      • It’s called research. The burden of proof is on them. I’m not going to do anything because its their policy, etc. They have to prove that it’s medically necessary.

        • Right…but how would you know how to interpret the evidence? Have you been to medical school and completed a residency? Had years of experience with all the things that can go wrong during childbirth?

          When you get on an airplane, do you tell the pilots not to use the flaps because you personally have not seen the evidence?

          • Medical school doesn’t equal God. I’ve done research on the pros & cons of the many “policies” that hospitals have. As it is my body and my baby, I have the ultimate say so on what happens to it. Doctors can disagree but I’ve the right to say “no” and that’s my right.

          • As a former airline employee/someone who has given birth, I don’t see this comparison as being equivocal. Flying an aircraft is not something people have been born equipped to do naturally since the beginning of time.
            … I just checked with my husband (a commercial pilot). He agrees that, while there are probably as many pilots as doctors with God-complexes who don’t like their judgement questioned, the two are totally not even close.

          • Thank you. Someone with a brain that understands child birth.

          • It is called ‘informed’ consent. If they don’t have the evidence to inform me… then I don’t consent.

  5. I thought doctors were supposed to be smart. Even I know what a phobia is. And that you don’t just “get over” them.

    I have HORRIBLE back labor every time and was induced with my first and I refused the epidural because I’d rather deal with the pain than the needle. And I don’t even consider myself a true needlephobic, because I can handle it rather well if I HAVE to (like when I had my c-sections).

    • I share your sentiment. I had a traumatic needle experience when I was about five, and from that time until I was in my mid-twenties, I had a pretty bad needle phobia. I had a number cavities drilled and filled with no novocaine, refused IV antibiotics when seriously ill, and on the rare occasion that I did consent to and receive any type of injection or blood draw, it required several people to keep me still/restrained and conscious. Nowadays, I have basically no problem with needles, and in fact have several tattoos. But that change had nothing to do with “growing up and getting over it”. Rather, it was a result of long-term, comprehensive cognitive behavioral therapy. This anesthesiologist has forgotten how to have compassion.

  6. I understand that this person sees many people a day and gets annoyed that so many of us are varying degrees of needle phobic. I personally don’t like being stabbed with sharp objects no matter how small and sterile they may be, but not in front of or to the patient

  7. My pastor in Utah was a big guy. 6’3″, huge (not overweight–just, you know, football-player-like huge), had a 2nd degree black belt in Judo from growing up in Japan as a missionary’s kid. And he HATED to have his finger pricked. He just hated it. Couldn’t stand it. Would rather have blood drawn with a needle than be pricked.

    He told a story once. Said that they needed to test his blood for something and they just needed a prick. He went into the nurse’s office and began rolling up his sleeve. “Oh, no, I just need a prick!” the nurse said.

    He replied, “Lady, you can take a pint, you can take a gallon, but there’s no way you’re pricking my finger.”

    “But you’re such a big guy!” the nurse protested.

    “Yeah,” he said, “I’m a big guy. Which means there is NO WAY you are pricking my finger.”

    The nurse looked helplessly at his wife, who just shrugged and said, “Better do what he says.” So they did a full draw when they just needed a prick.

    What does this have to do with the OP? Well, I’d love for this anesthesiologist to try and tell my former pastor to just grow the hell up and get over it. My guess is that men (or women) like the anesthesiologist in the OP wouldn’t talk this way to big men who can hypothetically kick their asses. Just a guess.

    • LOL!!!!! I just LOVED that one! I’ve just developed this glare that pretty much does the same thing. Like, “I’m a hormonal woman and can kick your ass, so think really hard about whether you want to screw with me!”

      I am with your pastor; I HATE to this day getting my finger pricked. (SO glad I’m not diabetic!) My pediatrician instilled that fear.

      Good story to that one too. In 9th grade Biology class, we were learning about blood types, and the teacher wanted us to all test our blood to find out the type…using little lancets like doctors used! Yikes!!

      I was a shy, mousy kid, afraid of ever speaking up for myself…but I did that day. I respectfully refused to do it, as I already knew my blood type: A+ (which, coincidentally ended up being my grades for the entire year, so HA HA!).

      He tried to tell me that I couldn’t refuse; this was our assignment. So I told him, “Ok, fine. But if I am forced to do this, my finger pads are very sensitive and will hurt for a few days. So, I won’t be able to play at my piano lesson tonight. And YOU will have to explain to my parents why they wasted all that money on a lesson I had to skip!”

      He backed down immediately, I viewed my lab partner’s sample to get the experience, and recorded my blood type. Score “1″ for pure musical and financial logic!

      • Good for you. Glad you were able to get out of an unnecessary prick.

        I think I would have been like, “There’s a prick in this room all right…”

        • LOL! Love that reply. Although, replying like that to my Bio teacher would have gotten at least a few detentions, if not a suspension, and I dare not think of what my mom would have done to me! (She’s a HS teacher too.) But you’re right, he was a prick, and yet, I would have taken his prickishness over that finger prick any day. Poor Mama Wrench! Where do people get these crazy ideas about what will “make things less scary”??? I’m pretty sure nurses had to hold me down for all blood draws and finger pricks when I was little too…and look how well that turned out! Ugh.

    • Ugh, I hate getting my finger pricked, too. When I was 6, I had to get a finger prick done for a school physical; three people had to hold me down, and the nurse thought she’d make it “less scary” by telling me to look at the little pipette while it suctioned my blood.

      I passed out. Even remembering it makes me sick to my stomach. My MIL is diabetic and always makes sure I’m not in the room when she tests her blood sugar.

      (Also, I once got a blood draw from a Navy Corpsman who told me women are usually the easiest to draw from because our skin is thinner, but men are usually more squeamish and pass out more often.)

  8. I’m 7mo preggers and had my blood drawn a week ago. I’m not too big on needles but I can deal with them if I have to. That being said, I had the nurse get distracted and RIPPED my vein with the needle! So I can understand OP.

  9. Seriously? This is how the anesthesiologist deals with people who have a needle phobia? What the hell happened to his/her compassion? A fear of needles is a pretty common fear, and they are going to encounter it a LOT in their career. OP, I hope you complained, and that this person got a talking to about how to handle these situations in the future.

  10. Ok, you all might hate me for this — but, a needlestick for an IV is a whole lot less pain than giving birth to a baby. I understand the hesitation and the fears of needles — I do! But, if you plan on any kind of pain medication or an epidural while in labor, you must have an IV for both of those. PS – I’ve also given birth three times vaginally without an epidural, so I know that giving birth hurts much more than a little needle.

    • A phobia is not about pain.

      A phobia is a short-circuit in the brain that trips the entire body into immediate fight-or-flight mode at the sight, or sometimes even the hint, of a particular stimulus.

      A phobia doesn’t have to make sense. The spark or glitch that sets up the lasting pattern of fight-or-flight response can happen for any reason or no reason and whatever object is in the field of view when it first occurs will be the object of the phobia. Literally anything you can think of–somebody out there probably has a phobia related to it. The more common phobias have scientific names, but that doesn’t mean that the objects themselves cause the phobia. There are people with completely baseless phobias of party balloons.

      It is impossible to “just get over” a phobia. The overwhelming flooding of the body with fight-or-flight hormones, the accelerated heart rate and other physical changes, are a product of an error in the brain. However, it is possible to reroute one’s brain to work around the glitch using desensitization therapy, which proceeds slowly and carefully at a pace that the sufferer controls. This typically takes weeks or longer. Since a severe phobia can cause a panic response at the mere contemplation of the trigger object, just being able to start desensitization therapy is a major step.

      People who are suffering from phobias who must be in a situation that triggers the response need uncritical support, a hand to hold, breathing exercises to help them not go into full-blown panic mode for just long enough to get through the experience, and possibly a mild tranquilizer if recommended by a doctor.

      And anybody who works with items that are common objects of phobias, such as anethesiologists, should know this!

      • Thank you for this….

      • THANK YOU!

        I’ve tried to explain my cockroach phobia to my husband before. I told him it’s so weird. I can be thinking “It’s just a cockroach. They can’t hurt me…” and freaking out, unable to breathe at the same time.

      • “Literally anything you can think of–somebody out there probably has a phobia related to it.”

        So true! I know someone who has a phobia of mayonnaise. My phobias are “typical” ones, spiders and heights. I had a hard time in boot camp because of the heights fear, the rappel tower and swim qual were a nightmare. (had to jump off a high platform into the water for swim qual)

        • Ketchup phobia over here, although it more induces nausea than fear. I can’t even look at it without gagging.

          • Ketchup, (especially the smell) mustard, mayo, relish, and pickles induce nausea for me. My hubby thinks I’m weird because I eat my hamburgers and hot dogs plain since I can’t stand any of the toppings. My MIL has the same reaction to cheese. (I’m not that big a fan of cheese, either)

      • And another thank you from me! It’s totally not about pain, although pain may have been part of what initially caused the phobia. I finally got past my fear of blood draws by getting mono with jaundice and having 2 – 3x/week blood draws to monitor it. After a few weeks, I was jokingly calling the nurses “The Vampire Squad”! The only time the phobia came back was when a student nurse came to “practice on” me, which was ok, but when she said, “OK, so is THIS where it goes?” I about had a heart attack. And she proceeded to screw it up big time, which then hurt.

        I’m also afraid of going into the ocean, but I’m not afraid of water itself, if I can see the bottom clearly. That didn’t have anything to do with pain either. It was my dad’s fault. We were going to go to FL for the 1st time when I was 8, and I was super excited about swimming in the ocean. I came into the family room, saw that he was watching “Jaws” on TV, and turned to quickly leave. He wouldn’t let me and made me sit there and watch the rest. I guess he either thought it was funny or that I needed to face my fears…either way VERY stupid. I had nightmares for a month where I actually FELT the teeth going through my foot. Got to FL and the beach and my brother ran right in; I ran in up to my ankles, and stopped cold, frozen in fear. Literally couldn’t move my body any further. I’ve gotten up to my knees so far; maybe I’ll be up to my waist by 60. :) I know the possibility of shark attack is minimal, but it’s still burned into my brain that oceans are dangerous. I was crushed to not be able to swim out there. (Damn that Spielberg and network TV. LOL!)

      • A true phobia – you definitely have my sympathies. Truly. But, I will say, that the majority of the women I care for have more of a “fear” of needles, and not a true phobia. They are able to have an IV placed, because they know they want an epidural. They are able to have the epidural placed. A true phobia of needles (in my 1000′s of women I have cared for in a dozen years) is really rare. I can honestly only recall one person who had a true needle phobia. I apologize if my first response sounded callous.

        • It did. And this one is only marginally better. You are still deciding *for* others what degree of fear the are allowed to have in order to prefer natural birth to a needle stick. If it isn’t a ‘true’ phobia then your first comment still applies? The needle stick is then not bad enough for the patient to have your sympathies… they really *should* just grow the hell up and get over it? Because that is what this response still sounds like… and it is very callous.

          There are a wide range of levels of fear/phobia and you do not get to decide what I can and can’t just get over or what is ‘worse’ for me to go through. Any fear I am feeling is ‘real’ and what is more difficult to you means nothing when it is applied to me.

        • I have a VERY true phobia- there wasn’t enough versed in the OR for them to be able to place a spinal so I could be awake for my twins birth. That is, after a 3 hour battle to get my IV in, which involved 4 people holding me down.

    • Read my reply above. I’d much rather deal with the pain than the panic response caused by the needle. Nobody, even the most severely needlephobic, thinks the needle will hurt more, LOL.

    • Speak for yourself. The IV hurt WAY worse. Everything the hospital did hurt worse. The internal monitoring caused severe cramping for hours, stalling my labor, stopping contractions and causing me to ask for an epidural (again, labor was stalled, no contractions. I got the epidural to get the rest of the internal monitoring). I had it shut of an hour before giving birth, and had all, feeling back for birth, and it was a hell of a lot less painful than the IV. If the hospital had left me the hell alone, it wiuld have been a pain free birth.

    • I’ve given birth without drugs twice, and I’ve had at least a dozen IVs. I can handle shots just fine, but I’d much rather give birth unmedicated a dozen times than get another IV.

      (And a needle in my spine? Forget it. Why do you think I took natural childbirth classes in the first place?)

    • As a former hyperemetic, I would rather give birth a thousand times than to ever again be stuck with an IV needle over and over while severely dehydrated.

      You have no idea just how painful an IV stick can be, obviously.

      Please don’t presume to speak for everyone out of your own limited experience.

      • I agree, the pain is huge part of the phobia for me. If I wasn’t so sensitive to the pain factor, I probably wouldn’t have developed the fear to begin with! (That, and I do not like being surprised by the presentation of an unexpected needle.) Especially when you get a person who fishes around in your arm like they’re digging for treasure. I had to go to the ER at 15 weeks and had to sit with a long, thick hep lock in my arm for 3 hours (for no reason, as it turned out). It hurt sooo much and left a huge bruise. Just having it in my arm was making me feel like gagging.

  11. If some of you guessed this was mine, you were right.
    Same first birth, same military hospital. They held me down and did it anyway. They assumed it was a pain issue, so they used TWO needles. One to numb me and THEN place the IV.

    My phobia is severe. It is not about pain. I have gone through 4 births unmedicated, the longest being 19 hours (this one, an induction) and the shortest being 7.
    I am not afraid of all needles- just hypodermic ones. It used to be all needles. I can now handle sewing needles, and tattoo needles, and I can HOLD hypodermic needles, but not if they are coming at me.

    To the person who mentioned exposure therapy- it does not work on everyone. I know this because I have tried it. I have also tried medication, hypnotherapy, and every other kind of therapy you can imagine.
    This phobia sets me back so far in life. There is so much I need done medically, and do much I want to do, and I just cannot do it.

    • You might be interested to know there’s a newish type of therapy that’s just been found to help some people with phobias called acceptance and commitment therapy. It’s less about exposure (which often times doesn’t work)and more about trying to live the values you want to be able to live. It might be worth a shot if you do believe your phobia is holding you back :)

  12. This one definitely hits home for me. I am severely phobic of hypodermic needles, too. I can pinpoint times as a child that involved needles that traumatized me and it truly does hurt to me. I used to hyperventilate at the sight of a sharps box in an exam room. When I was trying to get pregnant with my first, I knew needles were going to be a part of pregnancy and started researching a way to get through it. Then I discovered Emla and asked my doctor for a prescription. The first time I used it, I made myself look away (in the past, the control freak side of me had to watch). By the time the anxiety attack hit, the blood had already been drawn and I hadn’t felt it! Since then, I have had few anxiety attacks as long as I put it on far enough in advance (usually 2 hrs prior to be sure it’s super numb), explained to bewildered phlebotomists why I had a giant bandage covering cream on my arm, and never never look. That stuff has saved me… But don’t try to come at me with a needle when I’m unprepared because it is *not* happening!

    • Oh, that’s got to be a life saver! Wish that had been available for my first IV…or the time that it too 9 sticks to get one to take. Ugh.

      I just read an article today about new needleless injection devices that somehow administer the drugs through the skin via microscopic forced streams (or via lasers). I checked to see if it was a hoax, but they’re really out there. Cool! It kinda sounded like those “hypo-sprays” that the doc’s use on all the newer Star Trek series/movies. Hmm, life imitating art can be a good thing! :)

      • Oh yeah. It helped so much with just regular blood draws that I pretty much tell everyone who shares my fear of needles to give it a shot! Of course, it’s another story if you are getting something like an epidural or an immediate injection (since you have to plan on it and give it the time needed to numb the area).
        The laser idea is very intriguing. I am curious now!

        • I can’t find the article I stumbled upon earlier today, but here’s one from last year that shows one type: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/05/30/mit-invents-star-trek-needleless-injections/

          The article I saw had a few different delivery systems, such as laser assisted and dermal discs with microneedles that are painless. Cool stuff, especially for kids, needlephobes, and diabetics. If I could only get one of those filled with lidocane for every IV insertion attempt, or for dental work, I’d be in good shape. Or better yet, use those for stitching tears…no more needles in the hoo-hah!

          • Oh, wait. Before they will ever use them in childbirth, they’ll have to test and market them to men getting vasectomies or maybe foley catheters. Because, after all, if they’re only good for women, they’ll never gain popularity in medicine. (Wink!)

            Actually, the article I read said some devices had already gained FDA approval, so keep fingers, toes, and eyes crossed for mass marketing.

  13. Oy! Hey Doc, why don’t you get educated on things like patient rights and what constitutes abuse!
    Myztri, I am so sorry that this person was such a fool he not only insulted you, but physically abused you.

    I am so glad hubby is ready to fight the docs and nurses for me if needed! I have a fear of being stuck by the needle… or sliced or manhandled or whatever. A fear so strong that it can send me into a panic attack which sometimes results in grand mal seizures. So, yeah. No bueno.

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