Nee­dled by fears

Over the years, the writer has shed her fear of nee­dles, only to be nee­dled by a dif­fer­ent kind of fear.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living - Star2@thes­

LIKE a lot of peo­ple, I emerged into adult­hood with a fear of nee­dles. My child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences with grouchy peo­ple wield­ing sy­ringes had left me so trau­ma­tised that just walk­ing past a clinic of any sort would make me ner­vous.

Like­wise, the faint smell of sur­gi­cal dis­in­fec­tant re­minded me of child­hood wounds in need of stitches, usu­ally at some unso­cial hour by a doc­tor who had been dragged away from his din­ner or a game of cricket or his study of med­i­cal ab­nor­mal­i­ties pre­served in formalde­hyde.

Way back then, the doctors I en­coun­tered didn’t see the merit of fo­cus­ing on the niceties of good bedside man­ners when deal­ing with chil­dren.

I still have vivid mem­o­ries of a school nurse re­strain­ing my arm in her vice-like grip while she stabbed me with a sy­ringe fit­ted with a nee­dle that scared the be­jeezus out of me. My arm hurt for a week af­ter­wards.

Then there was the den­tist who threatened to pull all my teeth out when I be­gan squirm­ing as he pierced the in­side of my mouth with a nee­dle that was so long I was con­vinced it would reach all the way into my brain and send me to sleep per­ma­nently.

De­spite my fear, I’ve do­nated blood three times – at the re­quest of friends who sought to re­place the blood used by their rel­a­tives dur­ing surgery. Had they not asked me to help, I doubt I would have done so of my own ac­cord.

Each time as I lay on a do­na­tion couch, the thought of the blood flow­ing out of my body through a nee­dle in my arm scared me so much that I con­vinced my­self (after less than five min­utes) that the nurse who had dis­ap­peared after hook­ing me up had for­got­ten all about me.

She was prob­a­bly in a va­cant ex­am­i­na­tion room telling a col­league all about her hot-blooded date from the night be­fore, while my life was be­ing drained into a plas­tic bag that would soon burst and make a huge bloody mess all over the do­na­tion room floor.

But it’s not all bad news. You see, for some in­ex­pli­ca­ble rea­son I find that nee­dles don’t have the same power over me as they used to. The first time I looked a nee­dle in the eye, so to speak, was when I un­der­went acupunc­ture treat­ment for a chronic pain in my lower back.

As I lay on an ex­am­i­na­tion ta­ble, Mr Wong be­gan stick­ing his long, thin acupunc­ture nee­dles into my body. The pain was min­i­mal, sim­i­lar to that as­so­ci­ated with a bite from a small ant. As I slowly took on the ap­pear­ance of a hu­man pin­cush­ion, I ex­pe­ri­enced a pleasant tin­gling sen­sa­tion ra­di­at­ing from the base of those nee­dles. I wasn’t anx­ious in the least. Heck, I even watched closely as Mr Wong put some nee­dles into the back of my hand.

When my acupunc­tur­ist left the room for a few min­utes, I waved my hands back­wards and for­wards and watched as the nee­dles swayed like bam­boo in a strong wind.

“A hy­po­der­mic nee­dle is slightly thicker than the nee­dles used for acupunc­ture,” I told my­self.

“Maybe it’s just slightly more painful too. My child­hood fears prob­a­bly make nee­dles seem more painful than they re­ally are.”

Two weeks later, I stood out­side a beauty salon, where I had an ap­point­ment for an anti-ag­ing tech­nique called mi­croneedling. In a few min­utes, I’d al­low a stranger to re­peat­edly roll 162 tiny nee­dles all over my face. I’d been told that the minute punc­tures in my skin would pro­mote the growth of col­la­gen and give me a fresher, less wrin­kled skin.

I se­ri­ously don’t know what sort of mind-al­ter­ing drugs I’d been tak­ing to agree to that lot.

The woman who “rolled” my face that day was bright and vig­or­ous. Pos­si­bly too vig­or­ous. She used that roller as if my epi­der­mis were made of thick buf­falo hide. Up and down, left and right, and di­ag­o­nally she rolled as if her life de­pended on it.

I be­gan to bleed. I know so be­cause I saw the dis­carded med­i­cal wipes that my en­thu­si­as­tic beau­ti­cian tossed non­cha­lantly into a nearby bin.

Is it nor­mal to bleed with this pro­ce­dure?” I asked.

“Yes, bleed­ing is good,” she re­sponded

“Bleed­ing is good?” a voice in my head said. I doubted I would ever hear any­one use that state­ment again.

When I emerged from the salon a short while later, I looked as if I’d been bak­ing in the sun for a few hours. My skin had taken on the hue of a cooked lob­ster and felt ten­der and taut.

I may have over­come my fear of nee­dles, but I’m now feel­ing nee­dled by a pos­si­ble fear of look­ing old. Check out Mary on Face­book at www. face­­nei­der.writer

An timat 10% of the u ation s ffers from nee­dle . — Vi

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