My RA Journey Continues - Irony

Irony. Expected results being the opposite of what is expected. Sometimes serious, often humorous. At least that’s my take on it.

Irony is when someone who has a needle phobia, who has most of her life been afraid of those metallic spikes used to deliberately puncture the skin, whose heart races when one even approaches her tender vulnerable flesh, irony is when that fearful person finds herself actually shopping for syringes on the internet. What?!

The power of friendship

Now for Paul Harvey’s “rest of the story”. (If you know who Paul Harvey was you get brownie points. If you don’t, google it. He was pretty cool.) Many many moons ago a young girl and her best friend were taken to the doctor’s office for their annual immunizations.

Her best friend was also her hero because he was tough and brave. He could ride horses, round up cattle, and stare down a cantankerous bull or billygoat if necessary.

Yet he was her age, born in the same year in the early 60s. These young country friends walked through many early life experiences together such as first days of school, birthday parties (I was the only girl at a few of his), and holiday celebrations. They also had the same dentist and the same pediatrician. So going to get our yearly shots together was routine. That particularly pivotal day ended up being the opposite of routine.

Fear, anxiety, and needle insertion

Since he was the tough and brave one of our duo, he stepped forward in that exam room (unless a doctor’s visit required clothing removal we usually stayed together) to get his shot first. He pulled up his sleeve (usually a plaid button-down shirt), the nurse swabbed his upper arm with alcohol, and then deftly inserted that silvery needle. Everything was fine until…he flinched and tears came to his eyes. I was in shock. How could something as small and innocuous as a needle cause the tough exterior of my hero to crumble?! My life changed drastically at that moment. A phobia was born.

When the nurse turned and motioned for me to step forward to get my inoculation, I froze. I tried to hide behind my mother, then behind a chair, then sought solace in the farthest corner of the room. Since I was entering a full-fledged panic, my friend was ushered from the room and a second nurse was summoned. Upon hearing the commotion, our pediatrician, a no-nonsense, take no prisoners type of personality, also came into the room and, directing her staff to hold me still while my mother and friend’s mother bared my butt, proceeded to jab that syringe into my rump. The rest of that day remains a blur.

Needle fear with RA

From that momentous day forward, I have had a hate/hate relationship with needles. Or at least the ones whose soul purpose is to pierce the skin. Sewing needles, knitting needles, pine needles, all good. Needles created to puncture the largest human organ, not good. They became a necessary evil, an instrument of torture to be tolerated as infrequently as possible. Now flash forward over 50 years. That little girl, nee grown woman, recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, in an effort to avoid as many side effects as possible, has chosen the injectable form of MTX. Yet the needles the pharmacy sent home with her truly look like railroad spikes. Are you freaking serious?!

How I inject myself to combat RA symptoms

After somehow making it through the second weekly injection I decided to take matters into my own hands, (I think that’s an alternate definition for self-advocating, and yes, pun intended), jumped onto the internet and began educating myself about the world of syringes and needles.

Learning from those first two injections I knew I needed a syringe that was clearly marked (what does each line mean), not too small (RA has made my hands a little unsteady), with as short a needle as possible (the MTX needs to deposited in the fat layer not further in), but most importantly the needle needs to be as thin as possible (the gauge).

With gauge, the larger the number the thinner (and better, imho) the needle. The best option for me that I’ve found so far is a 1mL syringe with attached ½” 29G needle (having two separate pieces led to leakage at the connection point).

I wish someone made a 1mL syringe with a 3/8” 32G needle similar to my Victoza needles (another story for another day) but I don’t think they do. I’d be happy to become a company rep for a US company that wants to invest in making them though. I know a little girl with a needle phobia that would be an awesome spokesperson. Irony.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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