I love Enbrel!  It gives me so much more energy, and practically no morning stiffness (five minutes, tops).  I feel like I have my life back.

After having zero energy, scraping by on the bare minimum of all the tasks I should be accomplishing, getting so frustrated at how little gets done, things are looking up.  Last week my house actually got cleaned.  Saturday morning I cleaned out the refrigerator, changed the bedding on my youngest boys beds (why is that such a difficult task?), washed an extra six loads of laundry, gave the boys all a haircut, started to plan our upcoming vacation…

Now, if you don’t have RA, that might sound kinda busy, but pretty ordinary.  If you have RA and are familiar with the bone-crushing fatigue that overwhelms every waking moment, you know how truly spectacular a day like that is.

Monday Mr. WarmSocks took the day off work and we took the entire family to Seattle.  The kids got to see where we used to live.  We visited Greenlake and ate at Spuds.  Did you know there are biodegradable “plastic” cups/spoons made from corn?  Then we headed across the lake and toured Microsoft’s visitor’s center.

About the visitor’s center – I found what I want for my new coffee table:

Unfortunately, it is way out of my price range.  The Microsoft Surface sure is cool, though.  Two of my kids played chess on it much like you would on a 3D chess board – touch the screen and point where you want to move your piece – but there’s nothing to get bumped or knocked over, and no pieces to lose, nothing to have to clean up when you’re done.  There are other games, awesome maps, photos…  You can simply set your digital camera down on the surface and your photos will be downloaded, then you can look at your pictures just as if you were shuffling through a stack of prints, scatter them across the tabletop, etc. It was lots of fun.  And since this isn’t an ad for them, I’ll stop there.

The point is that we had a fun, full day.  Two long car trips, lots of walking around, and before Enbrel I don’t know if it would have been possible.  Especially after such a busy day Saturday.  Just a small portion of Saturday’s activities would have put me flat on my back for a few days, but I barely noticed it at all and was able to go out and do stuff Sunday and Monday, too.  Today we have violin lessons, and my boys have scouts tonight, then tomorrow we’ll hit the library.  I actually have the energy to do all this stuff!


Second Time

My fourth Enbrel injection is today.

There’s more to it than just learning how to give yourself shots.  There are other things to consider that aren’t an issue when you go to the doctor.  Location:  where in the house do I do it?  Storage:  where do I keep all the stuff?  Scheduling:  what time of day and which day of the week will work best for my long-term schedule?  Site Rotation: what’s a good way to keep track?

Location – People talk of doing their injections in their bedroom – or in the bathroom.  Given that I don’t lift my shirt or drop my pants anywhere else, these private locations seem reasonable.  Well, they seemed reasonable until I considered the logistics:

  1. Go downstairs to remove medicine from refrigerator
  2. Take syringe upstairs to bedroom – set on end table
  3. Retrieve alcohol wipes from medicine cabinet – end table is full, set on bed
  4. Find paper/pen to keep track of injection location
  5. Back downstairs to locate sharps container
  6. Take sharps container upstairs – set on bed
  7. Can’t reach end table from bed; can’t reach stuff on bed from chair near end table
  8. Re-arrange everything so it can be reached

The day that I did my first shot, I realized that there must be an easier way.  A basic organization principle says keep everything where it will be used:

  • toothpaste near the toothbrushes in the bathroom
  • plates and silverware in the kitchen
  • pen & paper near the telephone

What I need is to keep everything for these shots in my bedroom or bathroom.  This presents a problem because the med needs to be refrigerated.  I don’t have a refrigerator in either my bathroom or my bedroom.  As is customary, my refrigerator is located in the kitchen.  Maybe I could get one of those mini-fridges for my room!

Then again, maybe not.  Aside from the expense issue, there’s no space to put even a tiny refrigerator up there.  Hmmmm….. Maybe it’s not that I need a refrigerator upstairs.  Maybe the shot should take place downstairs so I don’t have to run up and down the steps.

Those YouTube videos of people demonstrating how to give an Enbrel shot featured guys wearing shorts.  This is so obvious, I can’t believe I overlooked the possibility.  I can wear shorts down to the kitchen, do the shot, then return to my room to get dressed.

Storage – since the ‘fridge is in the kitchen, that’s where everything needs to be kept.  I made space for the sharps container in my appliance garage (right beside the paraffin bath), and set a package of alcohol wipes on top.

Scheduling – After all my trying to figure out which day would be best, a schedule was imposed on me due to availability of the person who taught me to do the shots.   This topic is deserving of its own post, so I won’t elaborate further right now.

Site Rotation – this one is easy.  It can be automatic.  There are four syringes in a box.  Week one, left side of abdomen; week two, right side of abdomen; week three, left thigh; week four, right thigh.  If I have trouble remembering, I’ll print some address labels and affix them to the prescription box for easy reference.  If I find that this doesn’t work, I’ll figure out a different system.

NOW it’s easy.  I can remove the syringe from the refrigerator and set the timer for thirty minutes.  Next get out the sharps container and alcohol wipes.  It feels easy when I don’t have to traipse all over the house gathering supplies.  It looks easier when all the supplies are neatly together instead of spread all across my bedroom. 

This makes it simple to get everything ready and simple to clean up when I’m done.  I can’t believe how easy it is to give myself a painless shot, toss the used syringe straight into the sharps container, shove the sharps container back into the appliance garage, and throw away the used alcohol swab.

Am I missing anything?  Is it really going to be this easy?

Small Needle

It’s hard to imagine a needle can be so tiny.  Given that it’s Enbrel day again, I took a closer look at the syringe:

Small – not quite half an inch.  I set a regular sewing needle beside it for comparison.  Then I got to looking, and thought that not only is the needle short, but the diameter looks about like a strand of thread.

Sure enough, the tip of the needle on the syringe fits into the eye of my sewing needle: