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.