Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The first 4 months after diagnosis, I went in to the MS Clinic every week for my injection. It took me that long to work up the nerve to stick myself with a needle. The staff a the clinic were patient with me and let me come in until I was ready to do it myself.

Then my (now) ex came in to learn. He took to it like a duck to water. So for a couple of years I alternated injecting my thighs,and the ex would inject my butt and arms. When we split I ended up doing my thighs for 4 years.

After the Wookie and I had been dating for a year and a half, I asked him if he'd like to learn how to do it. I had noticed my thigh muscles seemed to be getting harder to inject, probably from scar tissue, and to be honest, I was tiring of doing it. I really wanted to stop. There was no pain, or next to none, from the injection itself, but the psychological part of it was really beginning to get to me. I just didn't want to do it any more. I didn't want to stop taking medication as I've been able to handle it for the most part, but I needed a break.

So the Wookie began giving me my shots. In the butt. Every week. It was like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. And so it has been for a couple of years now. Until last month. The Wookie was gone on business for one shot in December and two this month.

I discovered (again) how much I despised giving the shot to myself. I am still struggling with why I feel this way about a truly "non event". It's a simple thing to do, there's little discomfort and the side effects are quite manageable at this point. But I can't stand doing it.

The Wookie knows this. And when I get teary eyed about it and try to explain and then get frustrated because I don't know why, he just puts his arm around me and says, "I know". And he has explained that the shot once a week is his way of helping me cope. He's taking some of the burden from me, and as long as the needle isn't going into him, he's fine with it.

Again, a demonstration of how lucky I am. But we MSers may be getting a little more luck thrown our way with the announcement this week of an oral medication to treat MS. I know it is a cancer drug used to treat Hairy Cell Leukemia (HCL) and it has had a successful two year Phase 3 trial. The makers of the drug are hoping to have it on the market in 6 months.

I don't know what the recommendations are for this drug or the side effects or how often it has to be taken. I'm looking into that. I won't be going off the Avonex any time soon though. As long as I have the Wookie to give me the shot, I'll stick to what appears to work for me.

But I do look forward to the day when "Drop your drawers!" is a prelude to something a little more romantic.



steve said...

After reading this only one thing needs to be said - You Rock!

Shauna said...

And roll......heh. Acutally Wookie rocks, too.


Lanette said...

I was on Avonex for a year and had to do the shots myself - so I did - but only ever in my thighs.

Does it come in a prefilled needle yet?

Shauna said...

I think it's been available for almost two years as a prefilled syringe. That's what I have now....the whole prep is a lot faster. I just add on the needle to the syringe and we're ready.


Merelyme said...

I can't wait for the oral drugs to come out. I am not on any of the MS drugs yet as I am waiting for the oral meds. I have heard from a lot of people who do their own shots that it is so hard psychologically. You have a lot of courage.

Denver Refashionista said...

I don't blame you for hating the injections. The only other person on Avonex that I know has someone else do it to. I hold out hope for this new drug.

Shauna said...

It's not really courage. It's necessity, like washing the dishes. But thanks for thinking I'm brave.

It is vital to our future brain health that we do what we can to reduce the damage done now by MS. The damage at any point is permanent and though our brains may adapt with new neural pathways, the damage is already done and may affect us at a later date.



When I was on Copaxone, the daily injections didn't seem to bother me as much as the weekly injections of Avonex...I don't know how to explain the phenomenon either, but there were times I grew to LOATHE that Avonex shot. Maybe it was because I knew I was going to feel sick for 2-3 days post injection (unlike Copaxone) or maybe it was because the idea of forcing myself to inflict brief and temporary pain on myself only served to remind me of the ambivalent feelings that come and go with a diagnosis of MS. All I know is, like you, it became a traumatic emotional experience, not a physical one and only served to remind me of my vulnerabilities...I'm a nurse after all...I've given hundreds of injections. To OTHER people, of course.

Too bad you are on the far side of Canada...I'd come give you that shot and make you a cup of tea when the Wookie is absent.

Linda D. in Seattle

Shauna said...

I think with the Avonex, at least initially, there was the prep time: letting it warm up after coming out of the fridge, then mixing the water with the drug, then adding the needle to the syringe...and the whole time you're thinking about that thing going in you.
Then there's the actual injection: finding the bullseye, jabbing, drawing back, then the slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww plunge.

Prep time now is only the warm up period and adding the syringe. In the big picture, it's really not a lot of stuff to do and it doesn't take a lot of time. I know a number of diabetics who have multiple injections every day. Sometimes I feel like a wuss next to them.

But your offer made me smile. Thank you.


herrad said...

Hi Shauna,

Hope oral drugs happen quickly, don't have to inject myself but would really, really hate to.
Am totally freaked out by injections but on the other hand am also freaked out by how handicapped I have become.
As I have ppms there were no drugs apart from baclofen for spasms so no injections.

Guess een my fear of injections could be won over if could see myself stabilized.

Always contradictions aren't there?
Keep warm and happy.