mr. bump

I have been giving myself shots for a long time. I started Humira injections in 2005, and since then, I’ve added Enbrel and methotrexate to the list.

For most of those five years, I used plain, ol’, boring band-aids to cover up the injection site.

But not too long ago, I had an epiphany: Why not use some of those fun band-aids? But that was easier said than done. Most of those bandages are marketed to kids, and they feature things like Cars or Hello Kitty or the new Strawberry Shortcake. I feared I would never find something whimsical that I could relate to to plaster onto my body every Sunday, after injecting the Yellow Dart.

Then, I did.

As a kid, I always loved the Little Miss and Mr. Men books. Even now, seeing them in the local used bookstore brings a smile to my face. And so I was thrilled to find “fabric bandages” with all my favourite characters on them, including Mr. Bump. (Right now, I’m sporting Mr. Strong!)

Sure, giving myself an injection every week kind of sucks, but now at least I can slap on Little Miss Sunshine or Mr. Tickle and find something to smile about, instead.

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at least i’m not as sad (as i used to be)

Methotrexate

Methotexate // Image via Wikipedia

It’s kind of perfect that it’s Invisible Illness Week, with the way I’ve been feeling for the last few days. I don’t know if it’s a reaction to the flu shot I got Friday, a flare, side effects from my increased dose of the yellow dart (aka methotrexate) or something else entirely, but this week has not been a good one, disease-wise. I’ve been extra sore, extra exhausted, nauseous (blech) and headache-y, plus the tendons in my left hand — which had been doing OK after a prednisone taper — have decided that they were just kidding about feeling better. Awesome.

(So, I took a break from writing this to paint my nails, and my left hand is so bad, holding the polish brush to paint my right hand left me in tears. I’ll be phoning my rheumatologist in the morning. Geez.)

The point is this: No one around me (with the giant exception of my husband) knows how hard this day was for me. Not my boss, not my co-workers, not any of the people I interviewed today, not my neighbours. No one.

The invisible part of invisible illness is a mixed blessing. The fact that no one knows it’s a Bad Day™ is both a good and bad thing. To the average person, I look like a vibrant, healthy twenty something. And that’s a good thing because, as much as I am all about advocating for those with chronic illness, it’s nice to have the option not to do that all the time (or, at least, when my psoriasis isn’t visibly flaring). But I struggled today. Things that should have been easy were hard: opening a door, holding an empty mug in my left hand, sitting in my chair at work, painting my nails, focusing on conversations. Today, I could have used help. But, other than my husband, no one offered—not even those who know I have a chronic illness. And I think that’s because—and I know everyone out there with an invisible illness has heard this at least once—I don’t look sick.

That makes things hard sometimes. I don’t like asking for help, but that’s on me. Having a chronic illness has forced me to change how I approach things, and I think that’s OK—at least now. I won’t lie: I struggled with that for a long time. But everyone has something they’re dealing with; life isn’t perfect, even for healthy people. And that’s OK, too. I’m not thankful I got sick, but if there is one think I’m thankful it did for me, I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful I can recognize life is hard for everyone and maybe we should all do what we can to make it easier, to make people feel happier (or maybe just less sad) and less alone.

It’s a thought, anyway.

the yellow dart

So, I had my first foray into the wilds of methotrexate injection tonight.

When I asked my pharmacist how to go about doing it, she said she wasn’t sure. Apparently, she decided to call a friend who worked at some clinic, and she said to just inject a dose’s worth of air into the bottle and then go about my business.

Since those directions were less than stellar, I turned to the internet for help and came up with the Canadian Rheumatological Association‘s methotrexate injection sheet. That was more helpful.

So, I followed the instructions: I washed my hands with soap and warm water. I cleaned the area I was going to inject (my thigh, in case you were wondering). I injected half the dose’s worth of air into the vial. I pulled out the dose — which, incidentally, I’ve decided to nickname The Yellow Dart, since metho is yellow and the CRA kept referring to the syringe as a dart.

As usual, I had to make a few practice runs before jabbing the needle into my subcutaneous layer. This comes from when I injected Humira, which hurt like crazy. This was before they had the auto-injector pens (which I used for Enbrel and prefer), and it was always a dramatic affair for me to inject it.

Anyway, once I got through that, The Yellow Dart didn’t sting anywhere near as much as Humira or Enbrel. It doesn’t look like I’ve got any site reaction, which was immediate with the biologics. We’ll see how it goes, though. I’m hoping the horrific, gaping mouth ulcers don’t make a reappearance and that I don’t get any of the nasty side effects. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.