Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Half Marathon

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. Much has happened in my life. Before I start, let me say that my MS has been stable, no exacerbations. I still struggle over what I want to do, what I can do, and what is good for me to do.

As I’ve written previously I am a runner. Running is my barometer which I use to check myself. If I can run then I’m okay. I decided to train to run a ½ marathon. I don’t know if other people with MS have done this or even if the training and race would be too taxing on my body. I decided to take it day by day, see how I felt and, well, go for it. I searched the internet for a training regimen geared toward intermediate runners to get myself ready to go from running 4 miles to running 13.1 miles. I trained for 12 weeks, steadily increasing my mileage. By race day I found myself in the best shape of my life. I trained 5 and sometimes 6 days a week, with one long run each week. I lost 10 pounds.

On the day of the race it was foggy and cool. Perfect. I ran the 13.1 miles in around 2 hours. I never walked, even when other healthy-looking people were walking. When I crossed the finish and put the “finisher” medal around my neck, I remember the pride and excitement of finishing my first marathon. I wanted to shout to everyone around me and to the spectators lining the road, “I just finished a ½ marathon and I have MS!”

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Injecting: If I Can Do it, You Can Do It...

When I tell people that I take injectable medications for MS they ask me how I can give myself an injection. They say they could never do that to themselves. “But you’re a nurse,” they say, “that’s why you don’t mind shots.”

So, then I tell them about giving myself my very first injection. I had given many subcutaneous (below the skin, into the fatty tissue]) injections to my patients as nurse. But giving an injection to myself was a different story.

I got all of my supplies ready. Cotton ball, alcohol prep pad and the syringe. I read the instructions 3 times, even though I’ve done this to other people many times.

I exposed my thigh, rubbed the area I had chosen with the alcohol pad, uncapped the syringe and said,”One, two, three…” On three I was supposed to inject, but I didn’t. “OK, one…two… three…” I sat there with the syringe poised over my leg but froze. I couldn’t do it. I sat there for 30 minutes like that. I went through 10 alcohol pads prepping the site each time I would attempt to inject.

My hand began to cramp, my neck started to hurt from looking down at my leg, I could feel my heart racing and I started to sweat. “Come on, you’re a nurse! What’s wrong with you?”
Finally, I just did it. I didn’t even clean the site that first time with an alcohol pad, but I did it. I injected. The next day, it only took my five minutes before I injected and after that there was no hesitation.

I’ve found that giving myself injections has helped me give other people injections. It also has helped me teach my patients how to give themselves injections (mainly insulin and lovenox).
I’ve learned the following tips:

  • Inject fast, push the med slow, over 10 seconds at least.
  • If you are injecting into an area without much fatty tissue, inject at a 45 degree angle. (This is the way I must do it since I am thin.)
  • The med should be room temperature when you inject. My medication (Copaxone) can be left out of the refrigerator for 30 days. If you must inject a med fresh out of the fridge, roll the syringe in your hand first to warm it up.
  • After I inject, I apply light pressure to the spot with a towel or cotton ball to prevent the medication from oozing back out or in case the site starts to bleed.
  • I make a habit of not injecting before I exercise, because I find the area becomes more sore than usual.
  • Inject at the same time each day. For me, its 5pm.
  • Have a pattern to the areas you inject. For example, with Copaxone the med is given every day. I have seven locations so each day of the week I inject to same area:
    Monday: Left thigh
    Tuesday: right thigh
    Wednesday: abdomen
    Thursday: left hip
    Friday: right hip
    Saturday: left buttock*
    Sunday: right buttock*

It goes without saying, that if you have questions or problems injecting your medication consult your health care provider….

*The directions for Copaxone say to inject in your arms, but I have almost no fatty tissue there and I have injected into my muscle which really hurts. I inject in my butt as an alternative site.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Embarrasing moment...

I'm in the midst of my second exacerbation. It started on Christmas day. My upper legs felt slighlty numb, kind of like what it feels like to touch skin through clothes, even when I was touching my skin directly. I didn't think it was an exacerbation at first. I hurt my back about two weeks before so I thought maybe that was the cause of the numbness. I now feel the numbness from my belly button to my toes anteriorly (just the front of my body). I have no loss motor function. I went online and did some research and came to the conclusion that I am most likely having an exacerbation.

In the midst of this I continue to run and exercise and to work. I feel fine other than the numbness. But a weird (and totallly embarrasing) thing happened to me last night. My husband and I stayed in a hotel/resort for our 20 year anniversay and we decided to work out in the hotel's fitness center before going to dinner to celebrate. The fitness center was crowded. I ran on the treadmill and was feeling good. I only wanted to run for 30 minutes so I ran sprints (running fast then recovering by running at my regular speed). This gives me a good workout in a short period of time.

All of a sudden I was down on the treadmill. I tried to stand back up and couldn't because the belt was still moving at 7.0 MPH. I let go and got launched off the tread mill and landed on my back on the floor. I heard a lady scream and a man came over to help me. I stood back up on my own, said, "I'm OK, " and got back on the treadmill. I ran at a slower pace for another 10 minutes. Mainly because I was too embarrased to stop.

I'm not sure what happended. Did my legs give out? Did I trip? Did I step onto the stationary area of the treadmill next to the belt by accident? When I run on a treadmill my mind tends to wander and I don't pay much attention. I just listen to my i-pod and run. This is why running is a relaxing activity for me (I know that sounds weird). Anyway, I didn't get hurt, other than "road rash" on my calf and skinned knees.

I'm more disturbed by what caused me to fall. I now feel vulnerable. Is it safe for me to run, to climb steps, to walk across the street? Does any of this have anything to do with my MS and the exacerbation?

After crying in the shower in frustration, I decided to take a deep breath, pull myself together and go to dinner with my husband. We had a great time at dinner and I felt fine. I don't know what happened on that treadmill but I do know that I need to be more careful, slow down and pay attention.

Another learning experience in this unpredictable disease.