Search Box

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"You'll just feel a little pinch"

Every single doctor or nurse or dentist who's ever jabbed a needle into me has always said those exact same words beforehand. They must all learn from the same playbook.

I understand why "pinch" is their word of choice. It certainly sounds less dire than, "Brace yourself, I'm about to plunge this big needle through your skin and into your flesh." A "pinch" is something a girl might do to you if she doesn't know how to fight and inflict any real damage. A "pinch" of vodka is a trace amount that you theoretically won't even feel. (Of  course, I've never heard anyone ask for a pinch of liquor who didn't really want a big dollop.)

But the fact is, "pinch" is not an accurate description of how a needle feels. A "small stabbing" would convey the actual feeling more accurately. I have to admit, though, that once my expectations have been managed so adroitly, I am more relaxed.

None of this is to suggest that all of these doctors and nurses are not perfectly pleasant. The nurse who administered my shingles vaccine yesterday even added, "This one doesn't even go into the muscle, it's just a sub-cute." Which I guess is the cute way of saying sub-cutaneous.

In fact, this particular nurse was not only pleasant, she was insightful as well: she evidently has the ability to recognize a coward when she sees one.


Brian Fradet said...

John--An interesting post this is as I have always had a repulsion towards needles. I believe it's a biological imperative--humans didn't survive well when their skin was punctured in like manner due to systemic infections, etc. In other words, I believe, it's imbedded in our brains to dislike needles, or anything similar. And, of course, it's easy for the doctor or nurse that "it's just a pinch" because they don't have to feel it. Kind of like my kids childbirth--I didn't feel a thing! Nor does the nurse. B

John Craig said...

Everything you say is true, but I also think a lot of us were slightly traumatized by needles in childhood by having to get shots (shots somehow felt more painful then) and the bad associations stayed with us.

I also suspect that doctors and nurses are taught to use the word "pinch," it can't be coincidence that they all use the exact same word.

Anonymous said...

I think it became problematic to say "You're just going to feel a little prick".

John Craig said...


Anonymous said...

I totally hate shots. If I ever have to have one, I brace myself. I look away and am relieved when it's done. The worst ones are the intramuscular shots. When I was a teenager, I had a shot in my leg before a surgery. OMG! I will never forget that one.

- Susan

John Craig said...

Susan --
I think they've become better about giving them over the years. The novocaine shots I got in my gums as a little kid hurt horribly. And when I had my wisdom teeth out in June of '71, they gave me a shot in my upper gluteus which left me sore there all summer long.