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Wedding Woes

My meds vs. roommate's needle phobia.

Dear Prudence,

I recently moved in with a roommate I met through mutual friends. We attend different graduate programs at the same university. Things have generally been fine. I have a chronic autoimmune disease that requires me to inject myself with medication every two weeks. My roommate has a severe needle phobia. This isn’t usually a problem because I get up around 5:30 a.m. every day, and I’ll take my medication out of the fridge and do my injection before my roommate is awake. I usually do this in the kitchen, as that’s where we keep the first aid supplies and sharps container. The other day my roommate came out of her room while I was injecting my medication. I was surprised and didn’t say anything before she saw the needle. I figured she would turn around and go back in her room until I was done, but instead she yelled, “Oh, my God!” and ran to the toilet, holding her hands over her mouth. She is now angry at me and says that I should never have had the needle out anywhere except for my room, regardless of whether she was awake or in the house at all. I do have sympathy for those who have a needle phobia—it took me a while to get used to injecting myself. But this is something that I have to do to stay alive! I’m going to do it in my room from now on, but I’m hurt that my roommate would react with so much disgust to something that barely impacts her and affects my life quite a lot. Am I justified in thinking that this is an overreaction? Should I bring this up with her at all?

—Roommate’s Needle Phobia

Re: My meds vs. roommate's needle phobia.

  • I don't know if you can put qualifiers on a reaction that is due to an extreme phobia.

    What I think the LW needs to do is identify what she's doing.   The roommate has asked for that accommodation which appears to be something doable for the LW.

    If this is not a manageable work-around then LW needs to say so.   However LW needs to have a bit more sympathy for her roommate.  
  • I have needle phobia also {not to this degree though}
    An ex I dated was diabetic so often had to do things with sharp objects - checking blood sugars, etc - but he did like LW did, and would not do it around me.

    I feel like LW should have advised that medication needed to be taken at a certain time and needs to be in a safe area, as well as to be refrigerated. Hopefully with knowledge, LW's roomie would be respectful and understand and avoid the kitchen at those times to reduce issue.
  • I think LW should be able to do her injections in an area where her supplies are. That said I think they have should agree on a time frame. If she always gets up at 5:30; the roommate should stay in her room until 5:45 (or whatever), or LW can text her when it’s all clear. 

    I think LW needs to be sensitive to her roommate, but I also think the roommate needs to be accommodating as well if she knows LW is always done within 10 minutes and wait to go in where LW is. 
    short+sassyVarunaTTOliveOilsMomei34
  • I think LW is reacting to someone running away from her medical necessity and puking. I can see where that would be hard to separate from "this person is disgusted by me." Otherwise there's zero reason this should escalate to Prudie letter.

    Roommate: "Can you do that in your room so I don't risk running into it? As you can see, it's a phobia to the point where I vomit."
    LW: "Theoretically, sure. But since the meds and sharps container is in the kitchen, it really makes more sense to do it there. It's 10 minutes every two weeks, and I'll get up early in the morning, so maybe it makes sense for me just to help you avoid that time frame. Want me just to text you the night before I need to do my injections and then again when the coast is clear?"

    Huh. A calm discussion.
    Also - crazy idea: What about moving the sharps container?   But I agree a calm discussion is what's needed here. 
    sparklepants41
  • I think LW is reacting to someone running away from her medical necessity and puking. I can see where that would be hard to separate from "this person is disgusted by me." Otherwise there's zero reason this should escalate to Prudie letter.

    Roommate: "Can you do that in your room so I don't risk running into it? As you can see, it's a phobia to the point where I vomit."
    LW: "Theoretically, sure. But since the meds and sharps container is in the kitchen, it really makes more sense to do it there. It's 10 minutes every two weeks, and I'll get up early in the morning, so maybe it makes sense for me just to help you avoid that time frame. Want me just to text you the night before I need to do my injections and then again when the coast is clear?"

    Huh. A calm discussion.
    On top of that, the medication needs to be refrigerated.
  • Just do it in your room. Sure she could have asked nicer, but there’s no reason you can’t do this in your room and store your sharps container in your room. She’s not trying to call you disgusting she has a phobia that you can easily accommodate. 
  • STARMOON44STARMOON44 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited October 17
    I think LW is reacting to someone running away from her medical necessity and puking. I can see where that would be hard to separate from "this person is disgusted by me." Otherwise there's zero reason this should escalate to Prudie letter.

    Roommate: "Can you do that in your room so I don't risk running into it? As you can see, it's a phobia to the point where I vomit."
    LW: "Theoretically, sure. But since the meds and sharps container is in the kitchen, it really makes more sense to do it there. It's 10 minutes every two weeks, and I'll get up early in the morning, so maybe it makes sense for me just to help you avoid that time frame. Want me just to text you the night before I need to do my injections and then again when the coast is clear?"

    Huh. A calm discussion.
    On top of that, the medication needs to be refrigerated.
    The roommate isn’t asking her to stop storing her medication in the fridge, just to inject it elsewhere. Unless these random roommates are living in Downton Abbey how far really is the walk from kitchen to bedroom? 
  • I just remembered!  I did have a roommate in college who was nervous around needles.  I keep insulin vials and insulin pens (back then, it was just vials) that I'm not actively using in the fridge.  But I don't keep the ones I'm currently using in the fridge.  As such, it was actually the most natural for me to take my shots in my own room anyway.

    When I've had roommates, in the beginning I will explain the basics of my condition including, jic, info about low blood sugar.  She made a typical comment when the subject comes up of "Wow, I could never give myself shots, I'm terrified of needles."  And, although I don't think she was even thinking about this issue.  I took that as a cue to assure her that I wouldn't have a reason to take my shots in our communal area, so she'd probably never see it.

    My H, on the other hand, is not so lucky, lol.  I keep my actively being used insulin on our coffee table and usually give myself shots while I'm sitting on the couch.  His "normal" living room spot...at a chair at his desktop...can only partially see the couch, so he rarely sees me giving myself a shot.  But if he is where he can see me, I'll do the shot on the hip that is opposite of him because even after all this time, he still can't watch the shot without it freaking him out, lol.

    I'd never do it on purpose, but I do sometimes tease him that I've given myself over 20K shots while he's in the same room over the time we've been together, so it's funny it still freaks him out.  It's funny to him also and he'll say something like, " I know! I know!  I don't know why, but it does.  And please don't ever break your arm!  I would find a way to give you your shots if I had to.  But I really, REALLY don't want to." LMAO.     
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  • Regarding the anger thing ... I have a phobia that is much better now than it was, but one of the ways I used to react is anger.  I wouldn't get angry after the fact though - I would be freaking out and getting angry in the moment.  And the weird thing is that I get angry at my phobia, not the person who has brought the phobia into contact with me.  So if my phobia were needles, I'd be yelling at the needle, not the person injecting themselves with a needle .... So I don't know if the roommate is angry because she is still reacting to being "exposed" and this is just her phobia rearing its head, or if she is just being a jerk.
    And I hope I worded this right.  "Exposed" is a weird word to use in this case, and it isn't like people mean to spring the thing that people are scared of on them out of spite.  A lot of people don't know what I'm scared of and it comes out of left field.
    imageimage
    short+sassycharlotte989875OliveOilsMom
  • kerbohl said:
    Regarding the anger thing ... I have a phobia that is much better now than it was, but one of the ways I used to react is anger.  I wouldn't get angry after the fact though - I would be freaking out and getting angry in the moment.  And the weird thing is that I get angry at my phobia, not the person who has brought the phobia into contact with me.  So if my phobia were needles, I'd be yelling at the needle, not the person injecting themselves with a needle .... So I don't know if the roommate is angry because she is still reacting to being "exposed" and this is just her phobia rearing its head, or if she is just being a jerk.
    And I hope I worded this right.  "Exposed" is a weird word to use in this case, and it isn't like people mean to spring the thing that people are scared of on them out of spite.  A lot of people don't know what I'm scared of and it comes out of left field.
    Your post makes a lot of sense and I appreciate that perspective.

    I even reread the letter and it doesn't sound like the anger was quick and just in a startled moment.  Because "in the moment", the roommate freaked and was running to the bathroom.  The LW has two sentences of what the roommate said to them.  It was probably said right after the incident, but after the roommate came back from the bathroom and was no longer in the initial panic.

    Plus, even if the roommate had lashed out in anger they didn't mean, they also didn't apologize for it or I assume the LW would have mentioned it.
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    kerbohl
  • Sometimes, apologies are needed from everyone.  Med roommate made a mistake in not giving a heads up to needle roommate when coming out.  I think needle roommate is...I hate to say overreacting, b/c phobia; at the same time needle roommate needs to have taken charge of some aspect of this as well to deal with their phobia.

    Both apologize and make a plan to deal with this.  I don't think it's fair to tell meds roommate that they have to do this only in their room, but a planned time and a "finished" text would go a long way towards alleviating both sides here.
    charlotte989875OliveOilsMom
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited October 19
    All I can say is "Easy fix on that!" and I've got plenty of colleagues highly skilled in getting rid of that! because really, that's something that will get in the way of simple medical care.  LW's roommate needs a referral...


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