Trypanophobia and sinus procedures - How we work with you!

Our motto here at Exhale is “Feel Better, Be Better, Thrive”, and we put a lot of thought and intention into running our practice so that it truly reflects our motto. We want our services to help you be more than better. This week a client helped me see our motto in a new and even better way. So, thanks to him, I’m going to write about trypanophobia and what we do about it.

Trypanophobia is an extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. If you suffer from trypanophobia your stomach probably dropped just reading those words. People who suffer this affliction aren’t merely afraid of needles. As an acupuncturist I see lots and lots of people who are afraid of needles. This is much different. Their nervous systems experience a traumatic response when they are faced with a situation involving a needle. I have a family member who is trypanophobic and I’ve accompanied her on many medical visits. She is not in control of what she does when she is approached with a needle and her response can be anywhere in the range of catatonic to violent. Not once, in the times of me accompanying her, have I met a medical practitioner that gets it. I have seen her bullied, cajoled, insulted, demeaned, physically restrained, and rejected for services. I believe this is a common experience for people with trypanophobia, and it can block normal people from getting necessary medical care. Luckily my family member figured out that all she needed was a good topical anaesthesia, a mild benzo, and lots of sensory deprivation in order to endure medical procedures. They are still a big deal but they are now manageable.

At Exhale we offer medical procedures that involve hypodermic needles and anaesthesia. This client I mentioned above, in seeking a procedure, was brave enough to mention that he had trypanophobia and asked us if we could accommodate his needs. Unified in our vision to really take care of people, everyone involved in the procedure, from our scheduler to Dr Vaughn, gave a resounding yes. We gave this patient the first spot on the schedule so that his wait time would be minimized. He came prepared with topical anasthesia, and that mild benzo. We provided an acupressure treatment prior to the procedure with soothing music and eye coverings to help relax his nervous system  We encouraged headphones and eye covering during the procedure to block overly stimulating sensory information. And when it was time to receive the needle it was done swiftly and without fanfare, again limiting the sensory stimulation to our patient’s nervous system. The needle insertion and the procedure were successful and the patient was happy and untraumitized.

So “Thriving”…As practitioners, our goal is to be as respectful and accommodating to the needs of our patients as we know to be. It’s our goal for each and every patient.This gentleman was able to get a medical procedure that he might have otherwise put off. He’s able to get the relief from a condition that has caused him to struggle in the past. He was able to walk out of the office feeling successful. That’s the kind of thriving we are aiming for.

Lisa C. Decatorsmith, L.Ac., MSOM
Practitioner of Eastern Medicine at Exhale Sinus, TMJ, Headache & Sleep