Having fun with injection drugs (or growing goat horns)

For the last three years I’ve been a bit of a pin cushion.

Most doctor appointments involve the rolling of a sleeve, an alcohol swab across the crook of my arm and a little pin prick and a lot of blood giving.

And you know what, I happily give.

Blood and needles have never really bothered me.

But I recently learned that needling myself as oppose to having a friendly, small-talking professional needle me is psychologically terrifying.

Like cutting your own hair.

I have done it before. But I’m always slightly nervous about doing it and I’d prefer to have the steady-handed Hair Cuttery technician clip my cowlick then the stubby-fingers of an English teacher with vision problems.

After a three month fight with my insurance company, I was finally approved to receive the injection drug Humira.

The insurance company dragged its wing-tipped feet for two reasons:

  1. There is no FDA approved drug to treat sarcoidosis.
  2. Humira injections cost about $2,500 each.

Humira is prescribed to treat a plethora of illnesses including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s Disease. The hope is that Humira, a less toxic alternative to steroids, will alleviate the symptoms of my autoimmune disorder–sarcoidosis.

Humira commercials are popular during the evening viewing staples of “60 Minutes” and “Wheel of Fortune”. Its commercials are always awash in warm colors, happy suburbanites, puppies, tire swings, fireworks and sprawling lawns. (No, wait… that’s all prescription drug commercials.)

If you stumble across this scene you may actually be starring in a Humira commercial.

In August, when my rheumatologist asked if I’d be ok with self injection I gave the dude-shrug and responded like any self-respecting red-meat eating male would, “Of course.”

I mean, how terrifying could self injection be?

Then came Monday.

So I’m sitting on the closed toilet like some shlub in a white undershirt and mesh shorts spotlighted under the artificial white of the bathroom lights trying to convince myself that I can do this. I can needle myself.

The Humira needle (ok it’s an injection pen… it resembles a child’s oversized marker… but an oversized marker that bites!) is teetering on the edge of the bathroom counter.

I take deep breathes and rub my hands. I hum “Eye of the Tiger”. I tell myself it will only hurt for a second. Like a bee sting. Like a little tiny bumblebee sting.

I check the time. It’s 9:45 and I tell myself at 9:50 I will brave up and inject myself. For 5 minutes I recite Winston Churchill quotes.

9:50. The needle remains.

To calm my nerves I pull out my phone and pull up Humira commercials on Youtube. In comes warm colors–oranges, reds and browns then comes the hand holding and fireworks and puppies and a grown man laughing and riding a tire swing into the velvet embrace of a perfect blue sky.

No where in the commercials is a nervous, slightly out of shape man sitting alone in his bathroom wrestling with the tantalizing thought of lying to everyone. His wife, his kids, his doctors, the tire swing man. Telling them all that he took the shot. That it was no big deal.  Because he was a man. When in actuality he chickened out, tucked the needle in the trash and went to bed.

As the commercials closes, as night falls across the majesty of suburbia, a warm-voiced narrator explains that Humira may result in the following…

  • itching
  • headache
  • stuffy nose
  • sinus pain
  • stomach pain
  • a weakened immune system
  • a weakened bank account
  • spontaneous internal combustion
  • cancer
  • heart failure
  • life failure
  • goat horns
  • and increase risks of TB and other fatal infections

Warm-voice narrator also explains that while on Humira you should avoid traveling to extreme and exotic places like jungles, desserts, the North Pole and Toledo.

Warm-voice narrator fades away. The commercial turns black.

I look at the pen. The pen looks back at me.

I’m not terribly excited to start Humira. Hell, I would love a drug free life but long exposure to steroids begin to have adverse affects on the body and I’m looking for anything to relieve my joint and muscle pain.

The house is quite. I consider the side effects. I consider my daily pain.

I pick up the pen and stare at my pasty white thigh.

I hold the pen against my flesh. I think fondly about my wife and children. I close my eyes and I press the trigger and the needle snaps, explodes and hits my skin and I flinch and recoil as if stung by a bee and watch $2500 worth of sweet medication run an expensive trail of tears down my leg.

I laugh.

I think how pissed my insurance company would be if they were here, crammed in the bathroom with me, witnesses to my cowardice.

I also think about how I’ve never been to Toledo and how growing goat horns might be a pretty cool experience.

goat-1667211_960_720Be well,


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