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.


Stuart said...

Consider a Diabetic and how often they have to give themselves injections....
Then knowing that you only have to inject once a day seems easier.
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Chekoala said...

hi there
I have been diabetic since I was 6, doing my own injections since I was 9, and have been on four injections a day for many decades. It was never a big deal (and still isn't).
My MS diagnosis meant adding in an additional injection. Since my MS diagnosis I have also discovered the world of MS chatsites and forums, where I have been taken aback by the chronic amount of phobia regarding having an injection.

Injections are an amazing invention.

enterthecircle said...

I've enjoyed your site. I'm in the middle of being diagnosed as I have no symptoms - my lesions were discovered from an MRI taken for another reason.

The info on Copaxone/Injecting was great and your positive attitude has giving me a lot of hope.

I'm curious - when did you start telling people? Do you have any suggestions for that? I have no symptoms, if I don't tell people, they wont know. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

I also have a blog and I'm toying with the idea of putting it out there after I tell friends and family. Or only tell those close to me and let the blog do the telling and save me from a million weird conversations.

Hope you're feeling and living well,

Robin said...

Sorry it took so long to respond, I just now saw the comment. I'm still new to this blog-thing. You asked in your comments about when I tell people about my MS. When I came back to work after my first exacerbation I made the decision to tell the people I work with because I work in the same hospital where I hospitalized and I figured that they may have already known. I wanted to be up-front, to avoid any speculation. Since I haven't missed any work since then and I haven't had any problems everyone stopped talking about it. I recently started working in a another unit in the same hospital and I did not tell anyone there. In fact, I was a little worried when I interviewed for the position that if they knew they wouldn't hire me. I worried for nothing, because I got hired and have been working there for a while now. I've basically decided that from this points forward, if someone asks me I'll tell them about it, but I won't offer any information about it, unless it directly affects my job or my health. Of course all of my family members know.

Robin said...

Fear of injections is a very real, understandable phenomenon. You'r experience with diabetes testing and injecting helped you when it came time to add another injection.

It's important to be understanding to people who are injecting for the first time. They have just been diagnosed with a potentially life altering disease and now they must learn this new skill that causes pain.

You (and I) have a lot to offer the newly diagnosed with our experience at injecting (advice, tips and understanding). Injecting is a big hurdle to cross and talking to someone with experience can really help.

Thanks for you comments!