Self-injector biologic for axial spondyloarthritis, alcohol swab, and a bottle of water

My Self-Injection Process

I hate needles. I always have and likely always will. That’s why switching my medication to a self-injection every two weeks felt like a daunting proposal. After two months of injections, it still causes me some distress (especially on injection day), but I’ve developed a routine that helps me get through it.

I picked a regular day

I was told I had to pick a day to make my regular injection day. It should be consistent and not vary, so I picked Thursdays because it is typically my least busy day of the week. Fortunately, the injection can be done at any time of day.

My medication is Humira, a biologic, and I chose to get it in auto-injector pens. They are quite similar to an Epipen. The alternative is a syringe, but I don’t think I’d be able to manually inject it into myself so I chose the automated option.

My process

On injection day I take the medication out of the fridge in the morning. The best advice I heard was the longer the medication sits out, the less painful it will be going in. The medication can be out of the fridge for up to 14 days before expiry, so sitting out for a few hours is not a problem.

I do my shot after lunch. Mornings can be a struggle, so why make them more painful? I make sure I have eaten and had enough to drink in the morning because I’ve had bad reactions to needles in the past.

One trick I’ve developed is to make sure I have a full bottle of cold water ready for after my injection, it is more mentally helpful than anything else.

Then, it’s time to stab myself.

First, I wash my hands.

Then, I choose the injection site. It can either be my stomach or my thighs, but I stick to my legs because I find it less painful and less awkward. I make sure to alternate legs, that way it has been a month before I use the same leg again.

Next, I use an alcohol swab to sanitize the area. Another good tip I got is to let the alcohol dry so none accidentally goes into the injection. Next comes my least favorite part.

I widely pinch up the skin to give the needle a good area to inject. I subsequently set the needle in place on my leg and set my hand ready to go, and then I wait. I pause for a few slow, deep, calming breaths. This part is so helpful to get my mind calm before the needle goes in.

I click the pen, hold it down and count to ten, with more deep breaths to get through.

Then, I'm done

Then, it’s done for another two weeks. I dispose of the needle, safely in the provided sharps container of course, and put a cotton pad on the injection spot. The pad is more for mental support than to stop any bleeding, there usually is only a small droplet of blood that comes out.

Then, I always take a big drink of cold water and relax for at least 15 minutes with more deep breaths. I still get a little freaked out, especially right after the injection, so I give myself some time to recuperate.

Lastly, and most importantly, I go get some ice cream to treat myself for another successful self-injection.

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