Needles

I love technological innovations. In my view, we are so lucky to live today rather than 200 years ago.

One area that has seen enormous innovation recently, though much of it seems to be underappreciated, is needles. I base this only on my own limited experience as a pin cushion, but I think it is true more generally. For example, I just went in for a flu shot. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen the needle go into my arm, I would not have known I’d gotten the shot.

Apparently, they have figured out how to make needles thinner and sharper, so they slide in and out with minimal pain. At least, that’s what the nurse who gave me the shot told me. Nonetheless, my kids still cry when they get shots — at least, they do when it’s my wife’s turn to bring them to the doctor. When I’m there, I promise them a box of Nerds if they don’t cry. Lo and behold, there are never any tears. They are amazed to hear that Nerds (the candy version, that is) didn’t exist when I was a kid. Yet another example of the miracles of technology.


Brent Hoag

I was told by a nurse that wiggling ones fingers slightly will cause the nerves to fire and therefore, no pain during the shot. Whether is psycosomatic or needles have become sharper, I have had no pain from a shot in the past several years.

Toni

We may not have had Nerds, but we had Sweetarts, my "cigarette" of choice.

My favorite reward after a shot was the empty and needleless hypodermic syringe--the big, fat ones they had in the 60s. My brother and I found those made great squirt guns.

Aaron

You must define being a kid differently than I do, because Nerds came out in 1983, so you must have had a rough childhood if you weren't a "kid" at 15 or 16.

Mark

How old are you? I'm 36 and Nerds existed when I was a kid.

Gene Shiau

I've dliigently avoid flu shots all these years. Still, I get my share of pokes from weekly allergy desensitization injections. How do you minimize the pain? An nurse said: don't dart the needle, just slowly push the needle in.

No, it doesn't prolong the agony; it works so remarkably well that I can muster enough courage to give myself the injection when necessary. Think of it like the conservation of momentum: the slower you do it, the less force you use so the less pain.

geekpdx

Sure, needles may be thinner and sharper than in the past - but having been quite the pin-cushion myself, I find that the skill and manner of the needle-jabber plays a large role in the pain involved.

I've been giving myself an injection once a week for quite a while now, and I'm still not as good at it as the nurse who showed me how.

Ben

As part of my work I stick needles into people every day, and it really is remarkable how much better they've gotten over the years. Another innovation in needle technology that is often overlooked is the advent of the disposable needle; back in "the day" people used to simply sterilize and then reuse the same needles over and over. Yeek!

jb

I thought that the pain resulting from a shot was dependent upon the viscosity of the liquid, not the size of the needle.

El Christador

One area the difference between now versus 200 years ago (or probably, even now versus 50 years ago) has probaby made a huge improvement in the quality of life is dental care.

Whenever I've had dental problems, which have been minimal by the standards of dental problems people probably faced routinely all the time before modern dentistry (I've had a root canal and a crown and post put in, not that big a deal even by today's standards, I think), I really, really appreciate the trouble-free pain-free time when I don't even think about my teeth when they work without giving me problems. And I'm guessing that by the standards of most of human history, my dental health is better than anything most people could have even dreamed of.

TJ

A "few" years ago people were slapping slugs on arms, not needles.

Dena Shunra

You know, the crying isn't a problem - it's an expression of a problem.

By promising them candy, you have successfully extinguished their first-choice way of expressing their pain and communicating about it. But you told the story AS IF you had extinguished the pain itself.

As a parent, you probably want to pay attention to the difference... ...because kids who learn to avoid expressing what they feel are very different than those who learn to express what they feel in acceptable ways (and from those who learn to express what they feel in unacceptable and disruptive ways).

Zach

I am terrified of needles not because of the pain (I have willlingly submitted my body to numerous violent sports over the years), but because of the psychological terror of the expreience. Helplessly watching a foreign object slowly invade the interior of your veins - I shudder to think of it.

Mark

I am a pheresis donor, and even with those larger needles it is rarely that I feel any pain.

About two months ago I had to go to the ER with kidney stone pain. When the nurse inserted the IV needle in my arm (where the pheresis needle usually goes) it hurt like hell. No idea what the reason could be other than the nurse. She was obviously experienced, though and was very surprised.

Regarding dentistry, about fifteen years ago I listened to a NPR interview with a Civil War Historian. The interviewer asked if he would rather live in those times. His answer - "Given modern dentistry, yes."

An observer

"By promising them candy, you have successfully extinguished their first-choice way of expressing their pain and communicating about it. But you told the story AS IF you had extinguished the pain itself."

Well I think that was the point. The kids aren't crying because there is pain. They cry because they are scared. It's psychological. If it really did hurt, they would cry even with the promise of candy. But the candy was an incentive to face and overcome this fear.

I suspect that someone who would call this bad parenting doesn't actually have children, but I could be wrong.

Sarah

I used to use needles daily (Type 1 Diabetic for 2 years now) before the insulin pump and have found a couple of things to be true about injections. Almost every time, the best way to give a shot is to "dart" it in, as someone has described. You feel no pain, usually not even a prick. BUT when it comes to doing the shots myself sometimes I prefer the "poke around" method to find a nerve-free zone and then I'll slowly put it in painlessly. I've never been afraid of needles personally, not even as a child.

I always become angry or embarassed when I see a grown wo/man going on and on about how they don't want to get the flu shot at work or whatever else about needles. Um, really? I can think of a million things worse than a usually pain-free injection or blood draw. Of all the things to be terrified of. WHY?????

Gary

I hate needles with a passion, but I too was pleasantly surprised to find that the flu shot was rather painless. I am quite certain my terror of needles stems from having tubes put in my ears as a kid. I had to have an IV put in before the surgery, and the nurse stuck me 11 times trying to find a vein in my arm. My Mother, a veteran IV nurse, looked on with growing disdain for the nurse.

My fears subsided somewhat after getting an IV of morphine in the ER several months ago. I don't like drugs, even advil, but feeling the morphine course through my body alleviating my unbearable pain was sufficient reward for enduring a needle.

Oh, and we had nerds when I was a kid… but I honestly can't remember seeing them in years…

Sarah

How do you know you're not just really unlucky to live now rather than in 2200?

Brent Hoag

I was told by a nurse that wiggling ones fingers slightly will cause the nerves to fire and therefore, no pain during the shot. Whether is psycosomatic or needles have become sharper, I have had no pain from a shot in the past several years.

Toni

We may not have had Nerds, but we had Sweetarts, my "cigarette" of choice.

My favorite reward after a shot was the empty and needleless hypodermic syringe--the big, fat ones they had in the 60s. My brother and I found those made great squirt guns.

Aaron

You must define being a kid differently than I do, because Nerds came out in 1983, so you must have had a rough childhood if you weren't a "kid" at 15 or 16.