Author: Michaela Wachal, Clinical Pharmacist
It’s perfectly normal to be nervous around needles. Many people are uncomfortable when their doctor starts talking about shots, needle sticks and syringes. It’s important that this fear does not stop you from getting the health care you need, especially if you are prescribed a self-injection medication. Self-injections are a safe way for you to manage many conditions. If you are taking a self-injection medication, here are 10 ways you can overcome your fear of self-injection.
Tell Your Doctor
If you’re uncomfortable with self-injecting, it’s important for your doctor to know. He or she may be able to offer an alternative or help you overcome your fears. Your Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) pharmacist should also know if self-injections make you nervous. Fear of injections prevents some people from taking their medicine, which can be a problem. Your HPS pharmacist wants to make sure you’re comfortable with taking your medication.
Pay attention to your breathing, especially if you get nervous about self-injections. When people get nervous, they tend to hold their breath or take shallow breaths. It’s important to take deep breaths while you’re self-injecting your medication. Breathing can help you relax and stay calm as you administer your medicine.
Once you begin the process, be intentional and confident. Moving slowly can be more painful and give your mind more time to dwell on your fear. Don’t rush, which can lead to mistakes, but don’t take too long and overthink it. With time and practice, many people gain confidence in the self-injection process and overcome their fear.
Listen to Music
Some auto-injector pens make a clicking noise. This can cause some people to tense up as they associate it with the needle. Block it out by listening to music, a podcast or other background noise.
Make Yourself Comfortable
When it’s time to administer your self-injection medication, it’s easier if you’re comfortable. Try to administer your medication in a stress-free environment. You may be more relaxed in a private, clean area. If you can, wear comfortable clothes that make it easy to access the self-injection site. If your medication is stored in a refrigerator, be sure to take it out early so it warms to room temperature. Injecting cold medication can cause discomfort. Ask your HPS pharmacist if placing ice at the injection site before your injection may be beneficial.
Your doctor will teach you how to safely self-inject your medication and give you tools to practice at home. If you’re uncomfortable with self-injections, it may be helpful to practice regularly at home. When it’s time to administer your medication, your HPS pharmacist can walk you through each step until you’re comfortable with the self-injection process. With practice, you will gain confidence in yourself and self-injection will become easier.
While it’s important to focus on self-injecting your medication correctly, there are ways you can safely distract yourself if needles make you nervous. You could talk to a friend or have an episode of your favorite show playing in the background. Some people blow on a pinwheel as they inject their medicine, which helps them breathe and distracts them with spinning colors. If self-injections are stressful, consider treating yourself afterward. Sometimes a fun, colorful Band-Aid after the injection is enough to make the process better.
Build a Support Team
Your medication may be prescribed as a self-injection but sometimes a caregiver can learn how to administer the injection. Ask your doctor about training a friend, family member or another caregiver to inject your medication. In some cases, a caregiver may be able to administer the medication for you. He or she can also offer support while you self-inject your medication.
Ask About a Shield
Some medicines have a shield that hides the needle during the injection. If self-injections make you nervous, it may be easier if you don’t have to see the needle when you administer your medication. Many auto-injector pens have a shield, which also helps prevent accidental needle sticks. Ask your HPS pharmacist or your doctor if a shield is an option for your self-injection medication.
Remember Why You’re Doing This
If you’re anxious about injecting your medication, pause and remember why you’re taking it. Your health is important. The medicine you inject helps keep your body healthy and strong. Even if the self-injection makes you uncomfortable, it is worth it.
Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) is here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you manage your self-injection medication. Our clinical team and certified case manager can walk you through the self-injection process and help you gain confidence to successfully manage your treatment.