A man stands in horror, looking at a syringe on the table containing a biologic injection for axial spondyloarthritis.

Don't Fear The Needle: My First Biologic Injection

I hate needles.

I always have and I likely always will.

Despite my disdain, I switched my treatment from NSAIDs to my first biologic, Humira (adalimumab).

Instead of taking pills twice a day, now I have to stab myself with a needle every two weeks. Needless to say, I was incredibly overwhelmed when the idea of injections first arose.

The journey from my rheumatologist’s recommendation to my first injection was very stressful and filled with sleepless nights, but supports emerged that helped to ease my concerns.

My personal care team

Shortly after my rheumatologist recommended the switch to Humira, I was contacted by my AbbVie Care support team (a pharmaceutical distributor in Canada).

AbbVie Care is not only providing me with my medication but also with personal supports. I was put in touch with a personal care specialist and a registered nurse who each walked me through the process of switching to a biologic. They were able to help me set expectations, answers some of my concerns, and set treatment goals. My goal is to get back to the physical conditioning level that back pain has prevented me from maintaining during the recent months.

I'm an athlete and that's important for me to maintain, I told them. There are no guarantees, they told me, but many people get back to a sense of normalcy with this medication.

Then, a package arrived in the mail. It contained a travel case, sharps container, a medication journal, and access to printed and online resources about the medication. The thoroughness of their support began to lessen my nerves about having to add something I dread into my routine.

Financial assistance

One of the first details I looked up was the price of Humira, and I was absolutely gobsmacked. I honestly doubted I would be able to afford it.

The Government of British Columbia has a program called Fair Pharmacare, which assists B.C. residents with the cost of prescription drugs. As I was previously taking NSAIDs, I was already enrolled, yet knew very little about the program.

Through my AbbVie Care team and Fair Pharmacare, my financial concerns were immediately eased with very little effort of my own. I highly recommend learning what monetary supports are available if your concerns were anything like mine. Learning about the programs available for me significantly decreased my stresses and worries about switching to this medication and knowing it won't break the bank was immeasurably helpful.

Injection training

I was sent to a local clinic to do my first injection. I met a very kind nurse who walked me through the process and with my provided practice pen we did a few mock injections.

Finally, I could postpone it no longer, and it was time to face the needle. I followed the injection procedure: wash my hands, check the expiry date, check for a clear liquid in the vial, swab the injection site, pinch my skin, and in goes the needle.

Ow!

Deep breath.

One, two, three…

Really deep breath.

Five…

Don’t forget to exhale!

…eight, nine, ten. I made it!

Then, I got very light-headed. I thought I might faint, but I didn’t.

My kind nurse gave me some water and the sensation only last about a minute. Reactions to needles have happened to me before on occasion. My best guess is the sensation of the needle and the medication going into my body shocked me (I hadn’t slept much in the lead up). Yet I didn’t experience any of the common adverse and concerning side effects that I was warned about.

It wasn’t too painful, not compared to a separated shoulder, or even to stubbing my pinkie toe on the coffee table. It only lasts ten seconds, but it’s the mental anguish that consumes me.

Nevertheless, I think I might be able to conquer the needle by myself every two weeks. But just to be safe, my kind nurse is bringing me back for a second training session.

What was your first AxSpA treatment like?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.