The Human Pin Cushion: Tips for Making Self Injections Easier
No one likes having to do weekly (or daily) injections. Some hurt, some sting, some smell, some make us sick, and all make us uncomfortable to some degree, but I’ve picked up a handful of tips over the past eight months that I hope those of you just starting injection therapy might find useful.
- Do you struggle using your hands to hold a syringe or vial? Talk to your doctor andpharmacist about alternative options for syringe types and vial sizes.
- Always have someone else watch and learn how to administer your injection, just in case you for whatever reason are unable to do so yourself.
- Before you inject yourself, practice on a plum. I am completely serious. Ask your doctor for an extra syringe, take it home, and practice darting the needle into the plum. The consistency is much like your own thigh, arm, and stomach, and will ease a bit of the nerves prior to your fist injection. Do it as many times as it takes to feel confident in your darting abilities, then move onto the real deal. Ask the close friend or loved one you want to learn how to do injections to practice with you.
- Use water to get an idea of how much medication you’ll be drawing up into the vial. Get comfortable with the tools.
- Create a clean set up with a band aid, alcohol swabs, a sharps container, all of your materials, and make sure your hands are thoroughly washed. After hand washing, use hand sanitizer for extra measure (tip from a nurse).
- After cleaning the injection area properly, allow the alcohol to air dry before you inject. This will minimize burning from the alcohol going into your skin with the needle.
- DO NOT blow on the area to make it dry. This defeats the entire purpose of cleaning it with an alcohol swab
- Have someone with you for your first injection, especially if you know needles make you feel even the slightest bit queasy or dizzy.
- Reward yourself after you complete the injection(s). You deserve it.
- If you are sensitive to preservatives, do nothesitate to ask your physician and pharmacist about preservative free medication. The set-up process may be different, but the option is out there.
Specific to Auto-Injector Use:
- DO numb the area with ice if you feel the need. There are also prescription creams available to help numb the injection area.
- If you find the speed of the auto-injector or preservative to be painful, DO count the seconds out loud, perhaps yell them, while the injection is taking place. Focusing on something specific, like the seconds until you hear the click of the pen, helps if you find the injection to be painful.
Specific to Refigerated Medication:
- If directed to let the medication come to room temperature prior to injection, roll the syringe or auto-injector in your hands. This will warm it faster and more efficiently.
- When taking Enbrel, I let the auto-injector pen sit out 15 minutes longer than instructed per advice of an Enbrel assistance nurse. It made a difference, so don’t be afraid to call up your pharmacy and ask for advice!
- RELAX. If your muscle is tense during the injection, you will find it more painful. Use deep breathing exercises, visualization, and relaxation techniques to help your body relax. Imagine your actual muscle in a relaxed state.
- Calm music or a quiet environment is key if you are nervous or tense. Ask any distracting loved ones to leave the room or go into a secluded area.
What are some tips you would give to others just starting a new injection therapy?
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- chronicallyscrewed said: how do you always manage to read my mind?!
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- theparidox answered: DO you take humira injections? I’m starting it soon and would love to hear from experience
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- part-time-super-hero answered: so I’m the only one who likes to stick needles in myself? O_o better than a doctor doing it!
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- xoxosweetheart said: Great information. We learn how to do injections on chicken breasts, which have about the same resistance. Allowing the alcohol to dry is the best tip! Also, grab & pinch the muscle around the cleaned area: it distracts the nerves.
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- junes-discotheque answered: Auto-injector: Do it while watching TV! Focusing on the screen can direct attention away from the pain.
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