I disclosed my fear of needles, and the response stunned me

Showtime eventually came, and I was nervous. I was sweating. I had a tightness in my chest and a hook in my gut that wouldn’t budge no matter what I did.

I sat in the doctor’s chair doing everything I could to avoid looking at the little dish with the needle, but knowing it was there all the same. I told the doctor how terrified I was. He smiled, not remotely surprised – I got the feeling he’d heard it all before.

“Now what I’m going to do is count to three, and on three, you’ll feel a little sting.“

I thought tough thoughts. I steeled myself, gripped my chair and kept my vision fixed on the medical certificate on the wall. I could do this. I’d been through worse.

I’m a big boy, I can … “Say doc, when are you going to start counting?“
“All done mate!”

That was it? I truly didn’t feel a thing. Not a stab, not a sting, nothing. It was over before I knew it had begun.

Jake FitzSimons gives the thumbs up after having his COVID vaccination

Jake FitzSimons gives the thumbs up after having his COVID vaccination

I have had horrible experiences with needles in the past. Frequent blood tests for glandular fever. Five needles directly into my gums for a harrowing dental procedure. This wasn’t one of them. It was the least invasive, least noticeable, least painful medical procedure I’ve ever experienced.

For fun, I put a photo of myself post-shot on Twitter, and I was stunned by the immediate response. The vast majority of people were supportive, with many saying they had avoided getting the vaccine due to their own trypanophobia. One woman said she suffered from it so badly she had given birth twice without anesthetic. Dozens rightly noted that anyone afraid of needles had best get vaccinated rather than experience COVID-19 induced intubation in the ICU.

But a small, sad minority felt otherwise.

I was told that a phobia was cowardly. That I needed to harden up. That if I was afraid of needles, I should probably begin identifying as a woman, as though that were some kind of terrible insult.

And while none of that is true, it makes me wonder how prevalent those views are.
How many out there would get the vaccine were it not for their irrational but inescapable fears?

How many people find it easier to avoid the jab altogether rather than talk to someone and find a way forward?

Particularly among blokes my age, how many worry that they’ll be vilified for admitting they are afraid of such a quick procedure? Sadly, young men don’t exactly encourage each other to be upfront and honest about the things that terrify them.

Studies show that as many as one in five people suffer from a fear of needles, so I suspect at least some of the jab hesitant are not afraid of the vaccine so much as they are the delivery system.

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The bottom line is this. I am glad I faced my fear. I am glad I was able to confront my phobia long enough to do what needed to be done. Does that mean I’m looking forward to my second dose? The inevitable booster shots down the line? Absolutely not.

I haven’t miraculously shed this fear. But if I can overcome it for just long enough to protect myself and my community once, I can do it twice. I’m just thankful I’m not an arachnophobe and we’re not
dealing with an international spider uprising.

Twitter:@Jake_FitzSimons

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