Today I got home from the pharmacy and went to put my next four doses of ENBREL in the fridge when I noticed that the box they came in was blue. That's odd, I thought. The box is usually white. I looked a bit closer only to discover that the pharmacy had given me syringes instead of auto-injectors!
I called them right away. After all, I had been there only 15 minutes ago. Surely they would offer to fix the problem. But no. They couldn't legally take the medicine back. The pharmacist said there should be a diagram in the box that explained how to give the injection. When I said I wasn't sure I was actually comfortable using the syringe - that the auto-injector is tough enough for me sometimes - she offered to look up some instructions on the internet and talk me through it. No, thank you. I can look things up on the internet myself.
I think if I had continued to make a fuss about being uncomfortable with the syringe, the pharmacy would have eventually helped me figure out how to get the auto-injectors instead. But then the hundreds of dollars of medicine in the syringes - four weeks worth - would have just gone to waste. And when I started thinking about all the horror stories I've heard about RA patients without insurance or who aren't able to afford these expensive medicines, I just couldn't stomach the thought of throwing those expensive meds away just because the method of delivery made me a little uncomfortable.
After all, I deal with needles and things that make me uncomfortable all the time. I've been injecting myself with the auto-injector for months. I seem to get blood drawn every other week and I don't turn my head away anymore. I've had flu shots and Remicade infusions. And these past two weeks I've been all about my ability to take care of myself - so why not learn how to use a syringe on myself? I told the pharmacist I would figure it out.
But as soon as I hung with her, I felt shaky and nervous. I don't know why the syringe makes me feel so uncomfortable. It might be partly because you have to make sure no bubbles are in there, and I don't know how to do that. So there actually are some safety issues to be concerned about. It might also have to do with the yuckyness of actually watching myself push a needle through my own skin. But, strangely, though I'm not sure that this makes any sense, I feel sort of like knowing how to use a syringe confirms that I am a sick person. With the auto-injector all I had to do was push a button and look away, no skill involved. Anyone can do that. But only sick people (or medical people) know how to give themselves injections.
In any event, I think I will be fine. After the first time it will probably be easy. But I think I need someone to be with me the first time. APL is no use because (a) he isn't here and (b) he passes out at the sight of needles going into skin! And a passed out fiance is not very useful to anyone!
Instead, I called Favorite Lab Man at student health to ask him about it, as I've struck up a comfortable friendship with him while going to get blood drawn every other week for the past year and a half. He is always super sweet to me and once said if I thought of anything he could do to help, just let him know. So here it is! Tomorrow I am going to go in and see him and he promised to give me some pointers on giving myself an injection with a syringe. And I'm so grateful that he agreed to talk me through it, not as part of his job but just because he cares.
But I will still give myself the injection. So wish me luck!