A trypanophobic’s tryst with the COVID-19 vaccine
The lead-up to the vaccination was a lot more excruciating and nerve-wracking
In the final analysis it was a momentary sensation, and the jab…err job was done with minimum fuss
In the end it was only a pinch, a small prick, and the job was done. I had managed to take the first dose of the coronavirus vaccination. Correction. The doctor had successfully administered the first dose of the vaccine into my system.
Why so much brouhaha about getting a dose of the vaccine? You may think. Let me explain then.
There is a term for it. Trypanophobia. Yes, it literally translates to an extreme fear or aversion to blood or needles — a fear of injections to be precise. It is estimated that about 16 % of the population in the United States has opted to skip vaccination owing to this fear.
I have had it for many years, since I was a child. With the advancing years I have got used to the blood part, but the aversion to the needle somehow remains intact. I have no shame in admitting it.
While I have over the years conquered a lot of my other fears, in this case I am guilty of running away from it as opposed to facing it. Every time I am supposed to take an injection I ask for an alternative — if the treatment is possible with oral medication.
If a blood test has to be done I get dizzy, feel nauseated and make it as difficult for the nurse as possible. Once the blood is drawn I feel like vomiting. Of course, there’s a caveat. If the procedure happens in a big room, where there is more space to breathe, things are a bit better. On the contrary, the more claustrophobic the setting the worse is my condition.
I clearly remember as a kid I had got injured playing. The doctor, who happened to be a distant relative, insisted on an injection. He forced the needle in alright, but got a kung fu kick in return, and got himself flunged on the sofa. Even as he rose cursing me, my mother had to step in to assuage him. The fact that they were cousins saved me from a retaliatory slap or two.
Years later, when I was due for a blood test, my better half candidly explain the nurse about my needle phobia, citing the example above. The moment I entered the laboratory, the nurse smiled at me.
“I am told you kick doctors,” she said, adding, “But I am a very nice person.” I had to assure her that she is indeed nice, and that I am the problem. It didn’t work. In her bid to avoid the ‘kick’ she goofed up the first time, and I was left with a rash on one hand, something that remained for about a week.
When the virus nation delivered its latest consignment, and it became clear that vaccination is the best alternative, it took a lot of time for me to get convinced. Instead I looked at other means: altering my diet, increasing the exercises, social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands regularly — as taught in pre-school and later by the World Health Organization (WHO).
All of it worked to a great extent. However, there was one major problem. When you have wander lust, travel is must. Amid all the coronavirus-imposed lockdowns, and there repeated extensions, travelling is something I missed the most. As months passed it became clear that the virus is here to stay, and vaccination is essential to travel, as also go ahead with day-to-day life. Then my family doctor insisted by getting vaccinated you are being “socially responsible.”
“You have to do it for the society,” were her words. But when I asked her about the implications she was quick to revert, “ we don’t know yet.” All said, the dates were requested for, and eventually procured. Then came the V-Day.
The lead-up albeit was a lot more excruciating and nerve-wracking. A lot of things were going on in my mind. Would I be able to take another injection? I hadn’t taken one for years. What if something goes wrong?
Worse still, the doctor was aware of my needle phobia, but instead of making it easy for me by asking me to turn my face to the other side, she brought it right in front of me. In a bid to delay the inevitable I asked stupid questions about the side-effects and other such, of which I knew the answers beforehand. When it was clear that I couldn’t delay things further I turned my face towards the window. There was a sensation, a pinch.
Voila! It was over. The jab had been administered. I had never had such a comfortable injection in my entire life. Not that I have had many, and am definitely not saying that I have overcome the fear of needles.
It was my better half’s turn next and she had it easy, yet again proving she is the better of the two.
“It is good that men don’t have to produce babies. Else the world will be left without children,” remarked the doctor, even as I stood up to express my gratitude. In normal circumstances, I would have loved to discuss the statement, and at least put forth a counterargument. Not a sexist one, but a rational argument saying eight billion people is a lot and the world should focus on cutting down on the population rather than adding to it. A healthy discussion, doesn’t hurt — unlike the needles.
However, I refrained from responding on this occasion. I was content that the injection had been administered with minimal fuss, and was extremely thankful for that.
It’s been a couple of days. There are no side effects as such, but the pain in the injected area is yet to go. It is less than four weeks for my second dose, and I hope to be a lot more confident this time. That said, there remains a question.
Will an apprehension that has existed since childhood go away in less than four weeks?
Well, we will see. Till then, let me celebrate taking the first dose, that too with minimum fuss.