Sunday, June 5, 2011

Talk about a delayed reaction!

Back in late October I began taking Cimzia. This medication is generally used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis. Like most biologics, it greatly affects your immune system. All of us with Crohn's or Colitis deal with this every day. I'm lucky that I haven't had an upper respiratory infection, shortness of breath, or an intense skin rash. However, I could theorize that my swollen ankles, dizziness and joint pain are from Cimzia. I just know those are common symptoms of Crohn's. Every medication comes with a price to pay.

Cimzia comes in a prefilled syringe. The thought of giving myself injections seemed unlikely to do. As a child I had seen several diabetic kids and adults need daily injections. I couldn't imagine the bravery it took to give yourself the shots. I wasn't needle phobic, but I always cringed at the sight of a needle. No one enjoys being poked. I'm personally not into finding pleasure in pain. No way, Jose. Being in the hospital five days is enough to never want to be poked again! At first my dose was two 200mg syringes every four weeks. This gave me enough time in between to forget the feeling. I was off Prednisone and relying on the Cimzia to help me into remission. Within time my symptoms were not improving so I began taking Imuran, 150mg daily. I also switched my Cimzia dose to 200mg every two weeks. I was so excited to only give myself one shot at a time.

So time has passed and I've been doing better with my new routine of medication. BUT (there's always a but), now I've developed a new fear of giving myself the shots. I was such a pro in the beginning. I knew I had to do it, and I was determined to get better. When the nurse came to my house she taught me all the proper steps in taking the shots. It took a few more times with assistance to feel comfortable. The nurses at my Dr.'s office were a little annoyed to help with the injection. They never have time. In the end they would always squeeze me in, because they could see I was truly scared. Scared about the disease and scared about living a life of pain. The only uncomfortable part is the thick, gel-like liquid going into your thigh. The injection time takes longer because of the consistency. Not always, but at times the substance can sting and burn. You can see your skin begin to rise and swell. I have been trying to ice the area before and after, which seems to reduce the swelling aftermath. It must seem like I have it perfected, right?

The last two or three times I've given myself my injections I've had severe anxiety. My brain tells my hand that it's scared, and my hand doesn't follow through with the "jabbing/stabbing" motion. I know what it feels like, I know what to expect. So why am I all of a sudden scared? There are technically four possible injection locations on your body: right and left thigh, and right and left portion of your abdomen. I thought the fear would be knocked out of me by switching to my abdomen. Possible thought: the thighs are dense, close to muscle, and more difficult to pull and pinch the fat. I could stand up, maybe feel less muscle or skin. Well, it didn't make a difference where I poked myself. I still was taking 20 minutes or more to give myself the shot. My fiance is usually there for support. He tells me that once it's over I can go back to my life. I listen to his encouragement, but I still have this bizarre fear. I swear my hand just won't move. I can count to three and mime the jabbing motion numerous times, but it just won't follow through.

"Antal, I swear I don't know why I can't do it. My hand just won't move!"
"Take a deep breath."

Another issue...I have suffered from generalized anxiety disorder for years. Ever since I can remember I've had anxiety. Luckily it's been a long time since I've had a major attack, but it always comes back for a brief visit. As I stand there with my needle, I can hear my moms voice.

"You really need to find the best way to handle your anxiety. Biofeedback? Yoga? Acupuncture?"

I know that breathing in and out won't take away my anxiety or slow down my pounding heart. I've already let the fear of the needle take over. Lesson learned: I need to figure out how to tackle my anxiety. Clearly it's reflecting through my ability to take care of myself. I know it's not the most painful thing I've experienced. I can get my blood drawn, piece of cake. So I need to relax. Anyone else have this problem? Maybe for now my best way to avoid this is to teach my fiance to jab!

1 comment:

  1. I just started on Humira this week. I can now truly say I understand. I had major problems with injecting myself.