In Case You’re Curious, Here’s How My MS Medication Works
Every now and then, the topic of my health comes up with people. When people find out I have Multiple Sclerosis and have in fact had it for years, they're almost always surprised. "You don't look sick!" "I would never have known!" "Get away from me, freak!" Well, okay, so they don't say the last one, but you get it.
I have a form of MS that's called relapsing/remitting. Which means, it's not as aggressive as other forms. I get little symptoms every now and then. See, MS is different for every person who has it, which makes it super hard to treat, because the disease attacks every person in a different place, which brings up different symptoms. So I might have a sclerosis on my brain, but another person might have one on their spine, which produces different symptoms. Basically if you want to know what w how it works, you can read about it here.
I've been on the medicine, Avonex, since about 2004. It's a weekly muscle injection. It's very simple and easy to use now. Back when I first started taking it, it was a huge syringe needle. I swear that needle was at least two inches long. You had to have a sharps container to dispose of the syringes. I remember a nurse had to come by and be with me the first time I took it. My mom was there for moral support, I remember she gasped when I finally got the guts to do it. It was intimidating.
Now, it's nothing. A few simple little steps, and bob's your uncle. They've changed the way the whole process works. Now instead of a syringe, it's more like an epipen.
You have to keep it in the fridge. When it's time to take it, you get it out at least a few hours before it's time to get it to room temperature.
Every box of four comes with plenty of these. You need the alcohol pad to clean before you inject, and often it can bleed a bit afterwards, so you've got your pad and bandages. It generally doesn't bleed very badly for me. But I do sometimes get bruising around the areas. There are three general places you're supposed to do it - either on your thigh a few inches above your knee, the same general area on the side of your thigh, or about three finger lengths from your shoulder on the side of your arm.
Almost looks cute, huh? You don't really even see anything. You put the needle cap on and screw it secure, then you just click back the pen to open the medicine into the.. portal thingy? Next, you put the pen where you're going to shoot, release the button, and count to ten. Then you're ready to pull it out. Like I said, most of the time it doesn't bleed too bad, but one time, WOAH. I'll never forget, it looked like a mini geyser there for a minute.
Then, you just put the little attached cap on the top of the epi pen thingy, and you're done. No need for a sharp container anymore! I usually end up taking some ibuprofen before bed on shot day so I don't wake up in the night. The only real side effect I've gotten from this stuff is that sometimes it'll wake me up in the middle of the night with extreme chills. Like, in your bones cold that seventeen blankets can't help. But if I just take a couple pills before bed, that doesn't happen. Don't know why, but I'm not here to question it if it works.
So there you have it, you now know a part of my Sunday afternoon routine. My very expensive Sunday afternoon routine. If I didn't have insurance and co-pay assistance.... well, I just wouldn't be able to take this medicine. Without insurance it costs about ten grand a year. Luckily for me, I've never really had a problem with a co-pay so I'm good.