Dear Inner Circle,

All my life, I’ve nursed a special fear of needles. Never for a minute did I entertain the idea that I might put a needle into someone that I loved. My son became a diabetic when only six years old and while he was adjusting to the idea that only needles would keep him alive, I was adjusting to the idea that I’d have to learn how to give him injections. The day came when he was about to be discharged from hospital and I had to demonstrate that I could draw up insulin and inject it. I sat my little boy on a bench and gave him a long lecture about how, if I could only make him live by injecting into myself instead, that I would surely do it. It was no metaphor. After my longish lecture, I pushed the needle into his leg. After pushing the plunger, I withdrew the needle and threw my arms around my dear boy, stabbing him in the back. I thought I was the worst father in history.

Years later my daughter was wheeled out of an operating theatre to a bed where I was waiting for her. Initially she looked ok, but in just minutes, her face turned a sickly yellow with stark blue lines across her face, almost like a road map. I panicked and called for help. A nurse fetched a doctor who looked at my girl and proclaimed her to be “fine,” without even hesitating on his walk past her bed. I was both relieved, wanting to think the best of his professional judgement, and also horrified that he didn’t seem to understand that this was the loveliest little girl in the world, who in my view, ought not look like a road map.

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