Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Art of the Stick

When we flew to Denver I took along a three-day supply of primed Neupogen syringes which I had to self-inject. Lauren offered to do it for me since she became an expert as part of her diabetes training. For those of you who don't know, Lauren is a representative for Bayer selling diabetes monitors. For a former employer she also sold needles and test strips. The sales reps were required to have a complete understanding of what the patient was experiencing, so she became proficient at self-injection – Ick! Great idea – but still a big Ick!

I declined the offer as I felt it was necessary that I get a grip – be a man – and master this myself. The first decision one must make when injecting yourself is determining where to do it. I had been getting my injections in my thighs upon recommendation of Thierry and a nurse who administers my Vitamin C. These are subcutaneous injections, meaning under the skin as opposed to intramuscular or intravenous. You just grab onto a fatty piece of flesh and jab. One thing I don't lack is flab, from my mid-drift down to my knees! I decided to continue to use the thighs.

One of the first things I noticed is that these needles aren't as sharp or as fine as the ones in the infusion center – so it really requires a firm push. This is when the eeeuuu factor kicks in. You pinch a bit of flesh, clean the area with alcohol, then inject. You have to be sure the needle goes all the way in, a half inch never looked so big! At this point sweat starts to build up. Then it is just a matter of pushing the plunger without pushing the needle out – this takes some concentration, and a very steady hand. This is when I start my breathing exercises.

The whole process really only takes a few minutes – not counting the getting up the guts and huffing and puffing time. Day one went really well. Day two hurt like a son of a bitch. I let out a litany of four letter words in between ouches! Lauren came to the conclusion I was pinching the skin too hard, and strongly suggested I move to the stomach! So on day three, I moved to the tire around my middle and it all went pretty smoothly. Now the only thing I have to work out is the angle of the stick. The nurse said 90 degrees – Thierry says 90 degrees – I personally like 45! I am not sure what, if any impact it will have to inject at an angle – the 90 degree thing creeps me out a bit.

Last night was my fourth injection, again in the stomach, and, it went pretty well; however, I really don't think I'll ever get over the initial dread factor and the need to tell myself that this is good for me. This is a small price to pay for an increase in white blood cells and less time spent at the infusion center.

It has been a busy week. Thierry is back from trip to Baltimore and Annapolis. I never realize how much I miss him until he gets home! My sister got married yesterday – a lovely ceremony in her home. It is a very gray day which will we spend at the opera – Madame Butterfly, then dinner with friends. Notwithstanding the leak in the bathroom and clogged sink in the kitchen, it has been a good weekend.

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