I had no place to run. I screamed, cried, and tried to hide under the table. The big nurse holding the syringe blocked the door, while my mom tried to apprehend my little seven-year old ass and subdue me long enough for the nurse to have her way with me.
The promise of getting a Mad Magazine after the visit wasn’t enough to coerce me into voluntarily surrendering to that godforsaken needle of fate. It took being overpowered and held down. Or at least that’s how I remember it.
However, the real hell didn’t begin until after the injection made it’s way out of my tiny, undeveloped medial deltoid muscle…
You see, at the front desk my mom scheduled another appointment. I had to come back in 30 days for a second stabbing.
As we walked out of the doctors office to go pick up my promised Mad Magazine, I thought about how I could run away. Possibly flee the country if I had to. Or maybe even do myself in. All to avoid the hell of another puncture wound being perpetrated on me by the evil medical professionals who seemed to be only interested in one thing—harming innocent and defenseless children like myself.
The next 30 days were spent dwelling on the impending doctor’s appointment that grew closer by the second. Whether I was eating breakfast, playing in the street with friends, or in my jammies watching Batman reruns, in both the back and front of mind I knew once again I had to face that wrathful nurse with her syringe full of pain.
Along with anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus each year, I believe this was my first concept of time—in terms of days, weeks, and months kinda time. As the appointment loomed over me it continued to suck me right out of my childhood—snatching me up from the moment and tossing me dead center into the chaotic and terrifying world inside my head—the place where that big needle always lay in wait just around the corner.
Throughout my life this needle has taken many forms—tax appointments, court dates, public speaking appearances, opiod withdrawals, jail sentences, uncomfortable conversations, surgeries, deadlines, going broke, and even the occasional prostate exam.
And just like that booster shot I had to get back in 1977, whenever the ominous event finally comes to pass, the prick may sting a bit, but never nearly as much as the stories I make up in my head about it, as time closes the gap between where I am and the arrival of whatever approaching event I want so little to do with.
In fact, I have found the only “bad” part is allowing the mental stories of the impending doom to abduct me from the moment without questioning their true motives. I’ve spent a lot of my years running for cover from some imagined future, and then when the future finally catches up with me, the monster behind the mask always backs off as soon as I stop running and put my dukes up.
Even though I no longer fear needles, there is almost always some impending incident that makes me feel like that scared seven-year old boy. Often not realizing how it’s my choice to a let a tiny little three-second sting ruin an entire month of playing ball, riding bikes, eating Fruity Pebbles, and watching Batman in my underwear.
P.S. I’d love to hear your comments below