My First Humira Injection
The time is 9:00 PM on 6 May 2019. Here I sit, in a chair in front of my desk, a Humira pen trembling in my hand as it hovers over my stomach, the target injection site. As someone who has a fear of needles -- a fear that usually results in fainting after doing bloodwork -- the prospect of beginning Humira is genuinely terrifying. I have put this off for so long, have avoided talking about it at length, and won't discuss it with my family; that is how much this injection worries me.
Hesitation and fear
My fear of Humira, apart from needles, stems from the fact that I am a hypochondriac, someone who is ultra-sensitive and who has a penchant for seeing the worst in everything. As the Humira pen gets closer to my stomach, images of blood, of people squirming and writhing in pain flood my brain. Psychosomatic burning sensations course throughout my body. A bead of sweat begins trailing down my forehead. I know I will experience some pain, some bruising, some other forms of discomfort. I question whether I'm ready to begin this phase of my life and consider holding off on the injection for another day.
A moment of reconsideration
Relatives affected by RA
But, something draws me back. Right before I place the pen over my skin, I look over at my blue Moleskin journal that I bought while in London. I think about all the memories, thoughts, feelings, and dreams that that journal holds, both from my time in London and in the year following that journey. I think about my grandfather who had RA so severe that it twisted his knees, making me unable to walk without crutches. I think about my paternal aunt who has RA who can no longer write or type because she must wear orthopedic splints. And this last one reframes the whole interaction I have with Humira.
My love for writing
Writing is one of the few manners through which I can make sense of the world around me; losing that ability would be detrimental to my life and the recording of my lived experience. Writing is the only way through which I can know myself. With this in mind, I prepare the injection, placing my thumb over the plum-colored cap.
Taking my first Humira injection
A loud click reverberates, breaking the long-held silence.
And it was anti-climatic. There was no pain. There was no pinch in my abdomen, no burning sensation, nothing; it felt like nothing had happened, and yet the yellow flag barreled into the pen, signaling the injection was complete. I pulled the pen away, threw it into the sharps container, and sat back in my chair, feeling a weird mixture of confusion and relaxation. I had finally accomplished something that had profoundly scared me for weeks. In this moment, the future did not seem so bleak as it had before.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?