The Tale of the Emla Fairy

The Tale of the Emla Fairy

I have been terrified of needles for as long as I can remember. And what I mean by terrified, is that just the thought of a needle could spark hours of bad moods, make me spiral by the simple mention of it in an e-mail and most probably make me cry before it even happens. Admitting that it still happens to this day is probably not my proudest claim. But at this point, the whole act of going into hospital, being put either in a bed or chair and feeling the tight strap around your upper arm simply feels like trauma. However exaggerated this sounds, it’s not trivial, anyone that goes through something painful and scary over and over again can experience some form of PTSD. 

So, jumping off that, I was very grateful for my fairy friend growing up. Emla Cream is a staple of my times in hospital and from the age of one to… well, now… I have been using it as my little helper through something that was unavoidable, but violent to me nonetheless. And there is no shame in having a little help.

if there’s something that makes something else less painful, you use it right?


Recently, I had a little realisation, that made me giggle because it brought me back to a time where I didn’t think as deeply as I do now, and life was frankly simpler.

On Monday, I had to go to hospital and in the middle of an appointment my doctor realised that I was missing a few tests, so on the spot she suggested I get blood drawn. Cue, instant sweating. Regardless of the overwhelming feeling of dread, I wanted those tests done and for once I acknowledged they were important. Or, I was finally smart enough to know that if I didn’t do it then it would just mean I would have to do it another time, and living through the anticipation of getting it done, is half the trauma. So, miraculously, I said yes and got it done then and there.

Because the Swiss are beautifully sensitive, they offered to use Emla numbing cream, despite the fact that I was in an adult hospital. They were ready to wait the 40 minutes so that the cream could have an effect. The nurses were perfect. But I decided that I didn’t want to wait and just gathered the strength to do it without Emla for the first time in twenty-three years.

I still really don’t know why I made these chains of decisions if I’m being totally honest…

Well, spoiler; I did it and it went fine. 

In the past nurses have used the snarky comment that I have visible tattoos as a way to question why I would be scared of a little needle for bloodwork. I am never going to admit it to them, and I will continue to snap back if a nurse belittles my fears like that, but yeah, my tattoos definitely hurt more. 

But that wasn’t my big realisation. 


You see just on the 9th of July, I got blood taken with the numbing cream. And I specifically remember telling my mother that, it didn’t hurt, but that I could feel everything. As in, the cream took away the pain of the needle, but not the sensation of it. However, if you had asked me if this cream had taken away total sensitivity as a kid, I would’ve said yes and been convinced of it. But I now think that, that was actually just the power of positivity in a child’s mind.

In simpler terms; the Emla fairy works only if you totally believe in her. 

she was my own little Tinkerbelle

I thought the Emla cream had stopped working in July, I thought we hadn’t waited enough time, or hadn’t put enough on. But that simply wasn’t the truth. The truth was that as a child I wanted to believe in everything. I believed in magic. 

Now that part of my brain was stained by my, albeit limited, knowledge of A-Level biology and medicine. I knew too much to pretend like I didn’t have a needle piercing through skin and veins. And that’s just the reality of growing up.


This enlightenment wasn’t sour or sad. For a minute, I was impressed by my strength as a child. And I’m happy I had a little imaginary fairy friend that was there through every hospital stay as a kid. I remember getting a diploma after my first big surgery when I was 10 years old, saying that I had done a marvellous job and that the Emla Fairy was proud of me. And I still have that diploma in my mother’s home, because it really meant something to me back then. I remember thinking that it was because of that little cream that I was okay, that I didn’t feel the pain, that I wasn’t alone. That was important to me as a kid and I continue to be so impressed by the paediatric nurses that looked after me for all those years.

And then, my next thought was, I’m proud of the woman that decided to deal with reality face on this week. Despite my fears I still basically just said, fuck it, let’s get it over with. And my anxiety ridden self that dragged her limp body through hospital corridors, would not have done that last year. 

In conclusion, I will miss my little Fairy friend. 

I definitely needed her for a long time, but now I may just be able to go in a little more independently… or at least sometimes. Regardless, I’ll always be happy to see my old friend.

merci pour tout, ma petite Fée 


Do you have any tales of when your childhood memories impressed your adult minds?

speak soon

Ballistic xx


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