A reminder for the needle averse (and those who love them)

Between the annual flu shot, and the COVID regime, it’s needle season. And with the approval of COVID for younger kids, it is, I can say from experience, a time of great anxiety for families of needle averse kids.

What makes needle season, if not joyous, at least palatable in our family is using EMLA creme to numb the injection site. You can buy this at any pharmacy, and the kit includes creme and a patch to cover it; it gets applied an hour before the shot.

The positive effects are twofold: it injects a dose of agency and control into a situation that otherwise seems overwhelming and lacking both, and it numbs the feeling of the needle (which, to be honest, is secondary).

Using EMLA hasn’t made needle days stress-free for Olivia, but it’s lowered the anxiety volume enough to make them possible and safe for all involved.

(EMLA, by the way, stands for Eutectic Mixture of Local Anæsthetics, something that, in an age of pharmaceutical names like Refluxatrix and Volupustonate, is refreshing simple.)

The other thing I recommend if you’re the caregiver of the needled is to talk to the pharmacist, nurse, or doctor in advance to give them a heads up. This will help prepare them, and you, for what’s to come.

And from Olivia this advice: look away, perhaps into the eyes of the person supporting you, instead of looking at the needle. It helps, she says.

Olivia has just had her COVID booster—they opened the floodgates to everyone 18+ yesterday and I jumped on an appointment for this morning, around the corner at Lawtons, minutes later—and it was quick and injury-free.