Going for blood work is a regular part of your disease management protocol when you have rheumatoid arthritis. If you are a afraid of needles, it would behoove you to overcome this fear.
On Overcome Your Fear and Get in the Swim, I discuss how fear can take root and grow, persisting well into adulthood. The same holds true for a fear of needles.
Fear not, there are a couple of things you can do to help yourself get used to the weekly/monthly/bi-yearly pinch and prick that occurs at a lab near you.
The fact that you'll have to go for blood work on a regular basis is, in itself, a type of exposure therapy. You do it so often that your fear degrades until it is no longer a fear. However, in the meantime, you have to deal with your current situation, so read on for some solutions.
When you understand the role the amygdala plays in your fear of needles, you are already a step ahead in overcoming your fear. Perhaps you've come by this fear, not by anything traumatic, but because you've inherited it at a young age from listening to a family member go on at length about their fear of needles. Yes, fears can be passed around like salt and pepper at the dinner table.
Now that you know that your fear may have expanded without your conscious awareness, you can begin to eliminate its effects. One recommendation is to do what my rheumatologist encourages me to do whenever he injects a joint with cortisone - talk. If you're talking, your mind is on the talk, not on the needle.
If you don't feel like talking, place your hand over your heart, breathe deeply and evenly and think about how your breath is helping your circulation. Now your focus is on breathing, plus you are not clenchingtighteninggripping, which makes the procedure go a lot easier.
The last tip is one that requires more time. Develop a regular stress undressing practice. This not only resets your nervous system; it also enhances your performance, and - great news for those of us with a propensity to flare! - reduces the inflammatory response.
I've found that due to this practice, some issues seemingly just melt away, including fears. It's something I will do the rest of my life, because I feel and do better - much better - and I have the lab results to prove it! If you'd like to learn more, please contact me for a chat.
Finally, if you're wondering about those blood tests, Kelly has explained them for you in this post, Blood Tests for Rheumatoid Arthritis: What Is Their Role?