On trigger warnings for medical content

This post explains in graphic detail why trigger warnings are so very essential for people with a traumatic medical history. TW medical triggers (yes, this is a TW for the content warning).
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MASSIVE content warning for medical triggers: blood, needles, hospitals, IVs, injections, surgery, blood draws, etc.
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My history with needles is not a good one. It started with me being a very sensitive kid (Autistic, and therefore vulnerable even compared to other children) and associating injections with authority figures forcing me to endure pain. When I was seven I fell and gashed my head; I was in a great deal of pain, stressed and crying. My mother rushed me to the emergency department of the local children’s hospital, and minutes after arriving they injected anesthetic directly into my forehead, then stitched me up with nothing but the local and maybe some nitrous. (I don’t remember the incident with great clarity, as your might imagine.)

When I was 18 my appendix sprung a leak. I spent four and a half days in recovery following an emergency appendectomy as they treated the sepsis. I woke up after surgery in indescribable pain, with a catheter, a plastic tube down one nostril (an NG tube to empty my stomach), and three IVs, two active, one spare. At some point one of the active IVs was removed and the spare activated due to irritation at the entry site.

In my early-mid twenties I developed a blood disorder called immune thrombocytopenia, or ITP. People with ITP lose the ability to clot at semi-random intervals, as our bodies go haywire and start confusing our platelets (the part of blood that makes clotting happen) with foreign bodies (infection). This necessitates semi-frequent blood draws to check platelet levels and the occasional hospital (emergency department) visit. I was diagnosed in the hospital after two or three days of tests, including five separate blood draws and talk of a bone marrow biopsy. This turned out to be unnecessary, but I knew it was a possibility and prepared myself emotionally to endure it.

Those are just the highlights. I associate needles with hospital visits, near death experiences, and incompetent IV techs. I have at least half a dozen scars from badly done IVs and botched blood draws. (You do NOT want to know what a blown vein looks like. You especially don’t want to find out in a high stress environment and knowing they’ll have to try again.) I have endured needles again and again and again, despite a panic reaction that makes my legs weak. When necessary I have gotten regular STI tests, even when I could easily have skipped them with no repercussions, because I value the health of my partners above my own comfort.

When I ask for a heads up before an image of a hypodermic or a graphic description of an injection, this is why. I am not weak. I am a chronic pain warrior. And I deserve your respect.

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