A Pain in the...Thigh? How I Got Over My Fear of Shots

12:10 PM chronicmigraineellie 0 Comments

I've had migraines for 5 years, severe migraines for 2 years. I've come into contact with a lot of needles, whether it was for blood draws, IVs or abortive shots. Until this past week, I was completely unable to give myself a shot because I was terrified (and rightfully so). I convinced myself that I was always close enough to the doctor's office to have them give me the shot, even when I get completely needle-phobic and start running away while migraining. Yet something changed this week when my doctor told me that I would need to do 3 shots a day for 5 days to break this migraine cycle. Maybe it was because I was in college, or the fact that my mother was 3,000 miles away, whatever it was, I sat down Wednesday night, broke the DHE ampule and started filling the syringe. This was much farther than I had gotten in any of my other attempts to give myself shots. I realized, however, that I could prep all I wanted but if I was going to do this alone, I would never get it done.
So I called one of my friends, who miraculously still likes me, even after he spent an hour calming me down so that I could actually administer the shot. I also called my dad who also helped. The saying "it takes a village" is so  pertinent to that situation. But in truth, I was glad that I had support. A year ago, I would never have been able to give myself a shot. There was something that switched in my head that made me realize that I needed to do this, or else I wouldn't get better. While giving myself shots isn't fun, I realized that I could either take my health into my own hands and get over my fear, or go to the hospital for a week to recover. The thought of a long hospital stay scared me, especially with school going on and falling behind in my classes looming over my head. So i did it, and I am now on day 5 of my shots. My legs are bruised, my muscles hurt, but I am better. I can function and I'm happy.
Maybe it was the thought of stabbing something sharp into my leg that was counter-intuitive, but I learned a lot about myself that Wednesday night that I gave myself the first shot. I learned that I can take my treatment into my own hands, and get over my fears. I think that I finally realized that I can conquer my migraines, that I don't need to be scared of things because I am a strong person. I push through things in order to get them done and that is exactly what I did with my shots. Surprisingly, it was a lot easier than I thought that it would be. As long as I stayed calm, they went off almost without a hitch, except for the cursing as I would try and walk off the stinging of the DHE. For non-migraineurs, DHE is a wonderful old drug used to treat migraines (very effectively!) but it hurts like heck when injected intramuscularly.  I feel like I should apologize to the person living above me because after I do the shots there usually is a lot of shouting curse words as I try to walk to get the medicine further into my muscle.
As I write this, I'm smiling to myself. It's kinda funny, because learning how to give yourself shots is not a normal 19 year old thing to do. But I'm so proud of myself, for being able to conquer my fears and start to recover. For me, giving myself a shot is the first step to truly living my life in the "real world."
While this has been a bit of a rambling post, I wanted to give some words of advice. Never be afraid to conquer your fears if it will make you feel better. If you're struggling to give yourself a shot, I have a couple things that help me mentally and physically prepare. The first is to ice your injection site, it hurts less when the site is numb. Secondly, have someone there with you who will not leave until after you do the injection. You will definitely go through all 5 stages of grief, (at least I did) and attempt to get them to leave, but they should be steadfast in staying there. Third, who needs some pump up music? For some odd reason, "One Step, Two Step" by Ciara ft. Missy Elliot got me to actually put the needle on my leg as I was singing out the lyrics. Whatever works, right?
It's all about finding the small things that boost your confidence in order to help you actually get it done. Whether it's the idea that you are going to feel better, or how proud your mom is going to be when you tell her that you actually gave yourself a shot, know that this is for your benefit and that it is totally normal to feel scared and unsure.
Wow! That was a lot of rambling, and I'm going to post this anyways because this is what I'm feeling right now. I hope that anyone who has been struggling with shots or other procedures gets a little bit of confidence from this, and that it helps to show that there are other people who are struggling with the same thing!
I hope everyone has a wonderful, migraine-free week!