I think around 4 years of age most of us can readily access long-term-ish memories and use them to surmise patterns about everyday life, for example, like how most kids eventually realize forks really suck when eating cereal, and how spoons don’t really quite understand the intricacies of spaghetti. One prominent pattern that began emerging, for me, was the link between going to the Dr’s office and getting some sort of painful injection. Once I solidified that connection, I became absolutely terrified of going to the doctors and would plead with my mother to not go and risk getting a shot.

I would eventually tucker myself out. Crestfallen and lying on the floor I would end up submitting to my mother’s orders.

An injection is a daunting event to a child, right? It’s purposeful pain inflicted without instigation. You can try and explain the concept of viral attenuation or immunization, but there’s no way a child is going to understand it. All they see is a needle. And because they can now attribute the needle with pain, they are able to objectify their fear of them, which leads to the anxiety of needles. Sometimes the anxiety and fear hit critical mass. It can drive people–and certainly kids–over the edge.  And that is exactly what happened to me.

The moment I walked into the doctor’s office I could feel my stomach drop and begin to churn with anticipatory dread. That wasn’t a typical reaction based off of past appointments, as my particular doctor’s waiting room was stocked with “fun” things, like games and toys that elicited a positive response. Usually, I’d be all up in that business, but I had uncovered the truth. They were trying to lull me into a false sense of security. They were trying to subdue me so that they could stab me with their over-sized bevels. There was no going back now. So, I just sat in my chair, eyes looking coldly forward as my hands gripped hard into my seat to try and off-set the mounting tension.

Eventually, a nurse opened the door into the waiting room and called out my name. This sent a wave of nerves reverberating through my body. I released myself from the chair and headed into the examination room with a sullen trod.

I situated myself on the exam table as instructed by the nurse and waited for my Dr. to arrive. When he finally did, I was apprehensive and not very forthcoming with answering any of his questions, even though he had a very friendly and professional demeanor.

Once we finished with the pleasantries the doctor picked up my chart. It was within this Manila paper folder I would learn if I were to be receiving an injection on this visit. I watched with bated breath as he carefully reviewed it. And with the simple flip of another page he transformed from my doctor to my very own judge, jury, and executioner.

After that moment, something odd happened to me. I went into a sort of social lockdown for the rest of the exam. I don’t even remember it. I was too busy trying to control the anxiety and the fear. The odd part was how calm I outwardly appeared in contrast to my inner turmoil. I was somehow successfully tricking myself into thinking that the whole thing wasn’t really a big deal, that I could handle it.

But the next thing I remembered was the Dr. saying the exam had finished as he began opening a drawer to pull out the needle and other necessary equipment for the injection. In that instance I could feel the psychosomatic effects double back on me with a new resurgence, and in doing so, my anxiety finally breached the surface as he laid out each piece. My heartbeat thumped in my chest and my breathing became shorter. Became quicker. I found myself on the precipice of losing it. And when I saw him finish assembling the inoculation device and raise it toward me, I lost it.

I jumped off the table with reckless abandon and bolted for the door with the frenetic manner of a caged animal trying to escape captivity. It all happened so fast that my actions didn’t register with my mother and doctor until I was already well into the hallway.

With the adrenaline coursing through my bloodstream I recognized the door to the waiting room. I knew if I could just get to it I could sound the alarm and incite widespread panic and hopefully an uprising. I could escape

I was closing in on the door fast, leaving a trail of cacophonous screams only heard in a jungle under duress. I was less than five feet away when my mother swooped in at the nick of time to stop me and embarrassingly return me to the examination room.

I could still feel the adrenaline pulsing through me as I was pinned to the exam table by three full-grown adults. I felt like the Incredible Hulk as I battled the nurse, my mother, and my doctor.

In my blind rage the Dr. had managed to inject me without me even feeling it. And this part I am not embellishing. I didn’t feel a thing.  There were still tears of rage in my eyes as I sat up and rubbed my hand over my now band-aided arm.

No one said anything for a while and I don’t remember much after. But I do remember walking through the parking lot with my Mom in silence after we left the doctor’s office. In that moment I felt very small and very foolish for making a big deal out of nothing. I had discovered new levels of shame and embarrassment. My mom carried a vacated look on her face, as though she couldn’t believe I was capable of such shame inducing behavior. To ease her embarrassment over the situation I tried to assure her that I understood just how silly I was. But in retrospect, I probably only compounded onto the fact of how ridiculousness the entire situation was.

And I haven’t been scared of injections since.

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27 Responses to “Kids Dramatize the Darndest Things”

  1. Suzy

    Great, thanks, I have a three-year-old due for more injections soon. She can also spot an exit and dramatise with the best of them. *prepares stern face*.

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  2. dianasschwenk

    When I was about 8, I pushed my doctor so he crashed against the examining table. My Mom stomped down on my foot wearing a pair of Dr Shultz wooden shoes and at that exact moment the doctor injected me. I had screamed so much and created so much noise that when we left the room, the waiting room had emptied out! My mother was uber mad LOL

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    • timmer

      Holy crap! I bet all the kids in the waiting room were terrified haha. I imagine a waiting room full of screaming kids and concerned parents wondering why there were screams emanating from the exam rooms.

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  3. free penny press

    This is great.. what a great short animation film this would also make..
    (fav pic was him not saying, but pointing to the tie for your fav color..priceless)

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    • timmer

      Thanks! I wish I knew how to animate it because I agree it would be a great format. I love those pixar shorts. I also really like the picture pointing out the color, subtle, yet gets it point across w/o any dialogue needed.

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  4. Svelte

    Aww haha, does’nt matter the means…you conquered your fear!
    I do have an inate fear of pain which I can’t seem to shed. I do vividly remember ‘cussing’ the person whom had pierced my ears!!! (In Hindi too eh… :# )
    Coincidentally, ‘Hulk’ was my nickname as a child…heh!

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    • timmer

      Yes! I have no problems with injections now. And ‘Hulk’ as a nickname? That’s actually really really really awesome.

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  5. jeandayfriday

    Great story, great illustration! I remember at around 7 years old hiding in the bathroom at the doctor’s office just to try and avoid the dreaded shot. This was priceless!

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    • timmer

      Thanks! I feel like a lot of people growing up dreaded getting shots and quite possibly still do. It’s funny how we all have these stories of trying to avoid getting them.

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    • timmer

      The best part is that I have no idea what a hypothalamus looks like. But I feel like it’s a pretty accurate depiction.

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  6. BillieArsenal

    My son pulled this stunt when he was about 8 years old and we needed to have his blood drawn for the first time. It took myself and 3 nurses to hold him still! He screamed the entire time and as soon as the nurse finished he stood up and simply stated “Mom that didn’t even hurt at all”. I wanted to kill him! Lol.

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    • timmer

      Oh man, that’s both priceless and maddening. I didn’t get my blood drawn until I was in college. I don’t know if that’s abnormal. I could very well have had it drawn before I remembered it, which makes sense. I don’t know what my reaction would have been at 8 years old though, probably apocalyptic.

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  7. Rocket

    I did this, I did this…OH MY GAWSH, that was me. My face is burning a bit now…

    But hey, I am PRO at getting injections now.

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  8. fairygodsister

    Reblogged this on Fairy Godsister's Blog and commented:
    I totally loved this!! And I love this blog!

    While I never bolted from a doctor’s office as a child, or demanded their credentials (don’t think I had the time, I probably was too busy being afraid), I’m unashamed to say I still have a morbid fear of needles!

    It is the reason I don’t have any other piercing, and the reason why I work very hard to suppress any discomfort I have! I remember the last time I had to take an injection (which was recently), before I started crying there were at least three people holding, and trying to calm me down!

    *sigh*

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  9. SJ

    Haha, love this post. :) I am totally terrified of needles and sometimes i think I compound my fear by convincing myself that I am afraid of needles. But your post describes it really well! Love it.

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      • SJ

        Not anywhere close to your epic adventure, but I did trick my way out of it once before, then got forced into having the injection anyway. Noooo.. I could never watch, tried once and I think it made things worse!

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  10. Chizzy

    STILL scared of injections as old as I am now, the last one I had stung me from the inside :( ugh…

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