Doing What You Can’t Do

Before Jimmy went out of town, he asked me if I could give Anne her shots while he was gone.  While I had known that my needing to do this was a possibility, pure panic set in when he asked.  I have a real needle phobia.  I went through natural childbirth three times, not because I was brave, or even because I believed it to be the best thing for the baby, but because it meant avoiding the needles involved in anesthesia.  I remember once when my father was hospitalized, watching a nurse change an IV and search for his vein, I broke out in a cold sweat and got dizzy and nauseous and had to leave the room.

So of course I assured Jimmy that I was perfectly capable of learning to give Anne her shots.

For the next week or so I lay in bed at night worrying, picturing needles, imagining myself jabbing those needles into the belly of someone I loved, wondering just how long the needles were, how hard I would need to jab, whether to push the plunger hard and fast or soft and slow, etc. etc. etc.  Wonderful Jimmy understood my anxiety and sent me detailed instructions: 1. Remove syringe from wrapper.  2. Take cap off of needle……. Really, some things I probably could have figured out on my own, but I could tell that he understood what I was feeling. Number 4 was to count to three out loud.  Good advice.

My friend Mark said “She’s so used to getting shots, they probably don’t even hurt her.”  I told him I wasn’t worried about the shot hurting her as much as I was worried that she would be hurt when I passed out and fell on her.

Saturday night it was time for the first shot.  Anne knew I was worried.  She kept apologizing that I was having to do it.  I hated the fact that a cancer patient would have to pity the caretaker.  I looked at her and said “I think that in this partnership I have the easier job.  If you can have cancer, the least I can do is give you a shot.  I am not the person to feel sorry for right now.”

And I gave her the shot.  The first one was hard to do.  I won’t say that I enjoy giving them now, but I can certainly say that I am capable. I can do what needs to be done.  Needles may always make me a little squeamish, but I was able to take a giant step in overcoming the fear.

It is within everyone to do those things that we don’t think we can do, whether it’s facing cancer or giving an injection.  Sometimes we have no choice but to do what we are handed.  Other times we are able to put things into proper perspective and do something for someone we love.  Either way, the answer to conquering the fear of the unknown is often to just hold our breath and count to three out loud and do that undoable thing.


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