I hadn’t heard of the term ‘Needle Fatigue’ until today, but as soon as I saw the phase, the feeling struck a nerve. Needle fatigue is the feeling you get when you’ve been dutifully and regularly sticking yourself with a needle, as required to deal with your MS, but your brain suddenly screams at you – “NOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
You may have been jabbing yourself every day, every other day, every third day or once a week, but you suddenly DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS ANY MORE! Or you may be able to get onto an oral medication instead of one of the injectable ones, and when you take your little pill, instead of doing the injection, you are almost overwhelmed by a huge sense of relief that the injection regime is finally over.
I was on the weekly injections, Avonex. I’d surprised myself when, after diagnosis with MS (Multiple Sclerosis), I was actually able to give myself injections. When my neuro had first said I should take one of these medications, I opted for Avonex, because I felt once a week might be possible for me, but no way could I do it every day.
I was a brave little possum, and stuck at the weekly injections. Sometimes they hurt a little, sometimes a bit more and sometimes there was no pain at all. Every needle day, I’d get myself ready, get the needle ready and once it was at room temperature, jab myself in the thigh. It quite quickly went from scary to almost commonplace.
Needles and me weren’t good friends before the start, and I had joked that I’d never be a junkie, because I hated needles so much. But the needle and I became, if not best friends, then at least working colleagues. My MS went from bad before medical treatment, to controllable, if not pleasant, with treatment. I was grateful to Avonex for that control. And then things changed. Suddenly, there was a new treatment for MS. Not a needle, but a little tablet that you took once a day, and it would help you control your symptoms. This medication was Gilenya.
I was excited, but I wasn’t due to see my Neuro straight away, so I waited. When I saw him and he suggested I give this edible med a try, I jumped at the chance. Yes, I was free of the needle! I remember giving myself my final injection, and oh my, the relief of knowing I would never have to do this again was amazing! I hadn’t realised how much I was stressing about this treatment, until it was over. I stopped Avonex and had a period of not taking anything, from memory, and then started on my wonder drug, (I hoped).
I began Avonex in 2010, and finished it in 2012. In that time I learned a lot about MS and the intricacies of injecting myself. And I learnt a lot about what I could do, which was more than I’d thought I could do … My life has changed, because of MS. In some ways the changes are bad ones, but a surprising large number of the changes are good ones. I am proud of the person I am with MS, a brave person who is less afraid of many things that I may have been in my pre-MS days.
Those of us with MS have different symptoms, and take different medications. What works for one, may not work for another. All we can do is try treatments and hope for the best. For me, Gilenya is the best, for now anyway. There are new medications coming out all of the time, so who knows how long I’ll stay with this one. Another visit to my neuro is well overdue, so I’ll make that appointment sometime soon, and see what happens …