Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Shots, Shots, Shots

      After being off of any injectable medications for a little while, I have recently started Orencia (abatacept), a biologic with a pretty logo that requires weekly subcutaneous injections. My rheumatologist seems to think very highly of this medication, and I am up for anything that might get my flare under control, so I happily accepted his prescription. The rheumatology staff gave me the first dose in the office, and provided me with a sample dose to take home for the next week. For the following weeks, I was supposed to receive the medication through delivery services.

     However, acquiring the medication has been a complete fail so far. I am supposed to be getting my third injection tonight, but because of errors between the drug-sending people (don't judge my lack of sophisticated language) and the rheumatology clinic, it is not yet on its way. Everything in the healthcare world seems to take a very long time and the bureaucracy is causing me, or at least forcing me to endure, physical pain. Disappointingly, there really is not anything I can do at the moment. I am patiently awaiting the next dose, but I am frustrated that I am missing a dose tonight, and that I have no idea when I will receive the medication. My body screws up enough on its own, and I really do not need my medical team, including the drug company, screwing up as well. Plus it would be nice to feel like they care about me and want to reduce my pain and disease activity. I know they are just a company, but if you ask me even companies could and should show some compassion.

Me pretending like I know what I'm doing
      I want to learn to give myself injections. My mother is a pharmacist at a local university, and has experience giving shots to patients, so she has always done it for me in the past with my methotrexate and with my Enbrel. Being a senior, I need to be prepared to give myself the medication when I go off to college, and I want the control that comes with giving myself a shot. It isn't even a big deal; the needle is small and does not go very deep into my skin, and I consider myself to be a bit insane but also very capable.

     But when I attempted to inject myself last week, I ended up just staring at the needle, which I was holding a couple of inches away from my thigh, for twenty minutes before giving in and asking my mother to do it. I was not sure how hard or fast to stick the needle in, and there was a lot of pressure, given that Orencia is a $24,000 a year medication and we only had a single dose in the house. There really was not any room to mess up, and I depend heavily on a margin of error.

An over-hydrated orange that I injected 
     My mother brought home a syringe and an orange for me to practice injecting myself. Apparently, my skin is comparable to the peel and content of an orange, which is kind of dehumanizing but also probably pretty accurate, because she knows what she is doing. I stuck the orange a lot, and I must admit that I enjoyed the consequence-free and painless injections. I could try doing it quickly and harshly, and I could try doing it in a relaxed manner and slowly without having to worry about valuable medications or my own skin. My family joked about how good my younger sister would be at this type of thing, which I have to admit is completely true. Every skill I lack she excels in. It works out quite nicely - maybe I will make her give me my Orencia sometime just to see what happens. I trust her more than I trust myself, plus she isn't the type of person who would freak out or anything, and I definitely am. Hopefully by the time my medication is shipped to me I will feel confident about poking myself. For all I know, that could be forever, considering the incompetence of our modern healthcare system. Until then, I will just have to keep stabbing oranges.

      I really do not mind needles or shots very much. Once or twice a week, I receive a shot in each of my arms at my allergist's clinic. Blood draws do not freak me out. I barely flinch when I receive my vaccines. It is barely painful, and the pain I am already feeling masks the needle for the most part. But for some reason, the thought of getting a shot in my own house is deeply disturbing to me. My home seems like the only place that is free of all of the medicine and procedures and poking. I need it to be a sanctuary, and I wish it could stay that way. Getting shots in my house makes me feel like there is no separation between my life at hospitals and doctor's offices and my personal life, and that is not a feeling I enjoy. Before my first methotrexate injection, my mom and I agreed that we would never bring needles/shots into my room. My room is and always has been a needle-free zone. In college next year, I will probably do my shots in the bathroom or in the hallway rather than in my room. I think it is okay, and possibly even healthy, to keep a safe space, and I intend on doing so. As for oranges? I'll stab them anywhere.

11 comments:

  1. Been there. My hand shakes like crazy! ! And I start iv's on others. My fav was Simponi cause it had a fancy injector that I didn't have to see the needle.

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    Replies
    1. Any magical tips to making the first dose easier? :) I was definitely shaking last Tuesday haha. How quickly do you push it in?

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  2. Been there. My hand shakes like crazy! ! And I start iv's on others. My fav was Simponi cause it had a fancy injector that I didn't have to see the needle.

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  3. I had to give myself shots in the stomach for 5 weeks this fall. I cried all the way home from the doctor's office because I was so freaked out. Everyone kept telling me it was a little needle. It looked pretty darn big to me! The first time was awful but since I don't have a live-in pharmacist to fall back on, I had to make it happen. I did have to call my brother the nurse on the phone so he could talk me through it! After that it got easier but it still was my least favorite part of the day. I had a celebration the day the doctor told me I could stop. You'll be fine. I haven't heard the orange complaining.

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    Replies
    1. Yikes! I definitely think it will get easier after the first one. I'm planning on doing it in my thigh, but I have the option of doing it in my stomach. Do you think that is less painful?

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    2. As a diabetic for eight years, stomach is pretty painless I can promise you that 😊

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    3. I don't have a point of reference since this is the only time I've ever had to give myself shots. I had plenty of excess skin on my stomach, but it might be different for you. In other words, I don't know. Good luck.

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