RheumaBlog

Same dragon, different day.

Just thought I’d stop by and tell you how my last Humira injection went.

If you read my last post, you’ll know that self-injecting this medicine has been fraught with jitters for me. It hasn’t mattered that I know the shot won’t hurt as much as my imagination is sure it will. It hasn’t mattered that I know the stuff may send my rheuma-dragon into a stupor and, perhaps, put an end to at least some of the neverending pain that claims so much space in my consciousness each day.

Nope. Doing this twice-monthly jab has simply been crap.

Many, many nice people, fellow-rheuma-travelers all, responded to my post. They commented here, on RheumaBlog, and at RheumatoidArthritis.net, where the post was published in full. The vast majority commented on RA.net’s Facebook page.

I just want to say thank you, right now, to everyone who commented, for being so incredibly supportive. I didn’t really think that I was alone in hating to jab myself, but I had no real idea just how many people who take subcutaneous biologic DMARDs have almost exactly the same fears that I do, and that they face and overcome them every single time they inject, too. I realize, now, that I’m an unwitting member of a huge secret society. It’s called the I HATE JABS Society. 😉

Many of those who commented suggested I switch injection sites from my upper thighs to my abdomen. I chose to inject into my thighs, originally, because it seemed to me that if it was going to hurt, it would probably hurt less there. The idea of sicking a needle into my belly gave me the heebie-jeebies.humira-pen-figure-j-90-degree-angle

But so many people said it hurt less in the abdomen. A lot less. So many people, I reasoned, couldn’t all be wrong. So when I injected the other night, I did it in my tummy.

Heheh. Wow. It … worked. There was no pain. OK, maybe a second or two of “ah, there it is, here comes the burn” but then that went away and there was no burn at all. There was no pain when I removed the pen, and no pain when I put the little bandage over the tiny bead of blood that welled where the needle had penetrated.

No pain. No nothing!

So, I’m pleased to say that I’ve no longer any reason to dread these injections. I am so glad–and so incredibly grateful to everyone who commented. Let me give the advice, now: If you inject DMARDs, seriously consider injecting in your abdomen, even if the idea makes you shudder.  It’s so much better!

Now, if only my super-charged immune system will slack off a bit and let the Humira do its job. That would be the real triumph. Fingers crossed.

35 thoughts on “Shot in the Belly

  1. adiemusfree says:

    My partner is on Humera, he’s not brave enough to inject into anywhere apart from his belly! It’s been such a miracle drug for him, two weeks with it – and NO PAIN! He’s been on it for just over four years now, and hasn’t looked back. One small flareup, but otherwise he’s been so well it’s depressing. For me. I have Fibromyalgia – wishing there was something for it! But no…
    Not to worry, it’s fabulous that for people who have inflammatory conditions, there’s something that gives you all a good life. Awesome!

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    1. Wren says:

      Hi, A! I’m glad you stopped by, and doubly glad that your boyfriend is doing so well on Humira. Sounds like he chose the right spot to inject from the start. Wish I did!

      As for you, I really feel for you, having fibro. It’s a tough condition to treat, but the researchers are discovering more about it all the time. The more they learn, the better, because one of these days, they’ll find a way to treat or (please?) even cure it. In the meantime, I understand that getting plenty of rest, eating a careful, balanced and nutritious diet (cutting out all those nasty sugars), and getting at least 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week of moderate exercise (like brisk walking) can be helpful.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Come back anytime. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sabine says:

    Well I am glad you found this so-much-better approach. I would also recommend a pen (like the stuff used by people with diabetes) rather than a needle but maybe you already have that? I have been injecting MTX into my abdomen for five years now every Thursday and I am ever so cool about it. Sometimes, I hit a small bllod vessel and get a bruise but most times it’s really nothing much.
    Anyway, I tried both, pen and needle, and I am sticking with the needle (no pun inteded) as I felt nervous about the pen actually working – it’s so smooth and seemingly does not touch your skin.

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    1. Wren says:

      Sabine! Guten Tag! I do use the pen right now, but I’m hoping to switch to the syringe when I switch over to Enbrel (the next option on my doc’s list for me). Several people have told me they like the syringe better because of the control they have with it. I’ll take their word for it, including yours.

      Still, I’m very pleased that the injection into my belly-fat worked so well and was so pain-free. This may be the only time in my life that I’m glad that excess fat is there! 😉

      I hope you’re feeling well, my friend. I’m sending you a hug big and warm enough to reach you all the way over there in beautiful Germany. 😀

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  3. Jules says:

    I preferred the needle. The pen seemed so…*BAM* where as the needle I could ease in and inject slowly. I also bruised every time I used the pen which is funny when you consider the amount of fat in my midsection to cushion it. I hope and pray that Humira works for you. It’s time to kick that dragon in the butt! xoxoxo

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    1. Wren says:

      Hi, Jules! You know, several people have mentioned that they preferred using an actual syringe to using the pen. I’m not sure which delivery method Enbrel comes in, but I think I’ll ask for the syringe when I see my rheumy later this month. I’m amazed that I can actually envision myself injecting myself that way, but I guess after all these years of having RA, I’ve become tough enough for just about anything! But, of course, not without a certain amount of cowardice… 😉

      It’s so good to hear from you! Here’s hoping you’re feeling well and going strong. Sending a warm hug your way. 😀

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  4. Joanne says:

    So glad you were able to do your injection with less pain. When I was on Enbrel, I had multiple black and blues on my legs at first. Finally, a kind soul offered to help me with injections as my fingers were too weak to push the button! These days I am on an infusion which works better.

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    1. Wren says:

      Hi, Joanne! Until a couple of injections back, I’d only had very small bruises on my thighs from the injection. Then, wham! That one bruise is still there (but fading) and it’s about 3 inches across. I think I must have hit a capillary when I did it. It sure burned!

      Experiencing no pain this last injection was such a really, really nice surprise. While my hands are always sore and tender, and I know they’re not as strong as they once were, I’ve had no trouble pushing the button (except courage-wise). 😉 I’m sorry to hear that your hands were so terribly affected! Have they improved with the infusions?

      Sending you a warm hug. Be well! 🙂

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      1. Joanne says:

        Hi Wren,
        Thanks for your concern. Overall, Rituxan has helped. My rheumatoid factor is no longer over 100. As you know, this disease is complicated so I have some permanent damage-2 fingers to type (none at all some days) and knee pain with limp. Getting dressed is a chore, and winter in Philadelphia has been brutal! Last year I dealt with LOTS of red tape to get approved for Rituxan (no tnf inhibitors anymore due to neurological issues) I will soon be getting splints for my hands to prevent further deformities. It really is a “dragon”, all the prescriptions, even MTX, only slow down the progression. Hope Humira starts working for you soon!

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        1. Wren says:

          You know, I’ve been so lucky. As monstrous as my dragon has been in the past, I’ve never suffered any deformities in my hands or elsewhere. I think I’ll ask my rheumatologist why, next time I see him, because the frequent pain and swelling does indicate disease activity, and I’ve had it for going on three decades. (Wow, that feels weird to write!) I’m pretty sure he’ll just say I’m lucky, too.

          I just wince for you, imagining getting along in the brutal winter you’ve had in the East. I remember how hard it was for me during the north German winters–and they were mild, compared to what you’ve had this year. You’re made of some tough stuff, Joanne.

          Spring is nearly here. Hang in there! Sending you a warm hug. 🙂

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  5. Cathy says:

    I am a thigh gal. Enbrel tends to occassionally leave a small rash on my thigh but in my stomach, it was a huge rash that itched like crazy. Good luck with the injections Wren. I dread them every week.

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    1. Wren says:

      Funny how we’re all so different in our reactions to the drugs that treat our RD, isn’t it? But I guess it goes right along with how each of us experiences the disease in different ways, too. I’ve never had a problem with a rash or swelling, though I know some people do. When I try Enbrel (which I believe will be next on my rheumatologist’s list), I hope for no reactions to it, either.

      Sending you a warm hug, Cathy. It’s always good to hear from you. 😀

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  6. Lana says:

    I did my fun injection this morning. 🙂 It never gets easy. I have stubborn about injection my belly. May be next time, I will give in.

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    1. Wren says:

      Hi, Lana! Oh, DO try injecting your belly next time! I was also really stubborn about it, but after finally giving in and trying it–and experiencing NO pain, no bruise, no nothing–I’m sold on it. And I wish I’d done this sooner.

      It’s good to hear from you! How’ve you been feeling? I hope life has been treating you well and that’s you’re feeling wonderful. Sending a warm hug your way… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lana says:

        I am doing good. Just really busy. I started in a new job closer to home which I really like. And I have been feeling good – only minor flares. I hope all is well with you.

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  7. J.G. Chayko says:

    Bravo. So glad you found an easier, less painful way to do this. Here’s hoping it will boot your dragon back to its cave and you will get back to feeling well again. I ‘ll remember this method if I ever have to switch from pills to injections. Thanks for sharing your experience and as always, wishing you well. Hugs.

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    1. Wren says:

      “…boot my dragon back to its cave…” I love that image! I’ve pretty much lost any hope that Humira will suddenly get to work after five months, but it’s absolutely wonderful that the injection doesn’t hurt anymore. SO much easier to face the next one, really.

      Thanks for the kind wishes, J. I was thinking about you yesterday upon seeing your photos and I wondered if the very, very mild weather we’ve all enjoyed (!?!) here on the West coast of the continent has had a positive effect on your PsA? I do hope so. Sending you a warm hug. 🙂

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  8. mary says:

    So glad the stomach worked for you. Remember if the Humera doesn’t work a different biological might. Humira did nothing for me but Enbrel did the trick. Hang in there.

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    1. Wren says:

      I’m pretty sure Enbrel is the one my rheumy plans to start me on next. I see him later this month, but if it’s not Enbrel, I know he has other options up his long sleeve. I think Enbrel is a anti-TNF med, as well; I wonder why one would work and not the other? Maybe they go after different types of antibodies? I think I’ll check into that.

      Great to hear from you, as always. Email me sometime! 🙂

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  9. WarmSocks says:

    I’m glad to hear that the abdomen is working for you. Hooray!

    Count me as one of those who prefers a prefilled syringe, rather than the auto-injector pen. Both Enbrel and Humira are available both ways. First jab the needle in, then ever-so-slowly depress the plunger. The auto injector burned like the dickens, but with the syringe, I can go slow enough that it doesn’t sting at all.

    Good luck!

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    1. Wren says:

      Hey Socks! It’s great to hear from you!
      I’m thinking about asking my doc if I can get Enbrel as a syringe; with the VA, there may be no choice, but it’s worth checking. The syringe also sort of makes me shudder, but I Imagine I can get past the initial reluctance and get on with it. If the stuff works, I’ll be delighted.

      Hope all is well with you. Drop me a line? Sending hugs… 😉

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  10. Hi Wren: I’m with you. The abdomen hurts less than the thighs (with me, it’s more fat). I wish Humira had worked, but all the TNF inhibitors work slightly differently so I am holding out hope for Enbrel for you!

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    1. Wren says:

      Carla! Hi!
      I’m SO glad the injection hurts less there than in my thighs. As for the Humira, well … sigh. But my hope is now on Enbrel. Won’t be starting for a while, though. Still have to see my doc later this month. But my fingers are crossed. Sending a hug wafting toward Texas to you. 😀

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  11. So glad that works better for you! No more dead for the weeks in between! Yay!

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    1. Wren says:

      Hi, Penguin! Man, that’s for sure. That dread is insidious and gets worse the closer to the Day of Doom it gets. How are you? No more recent flarettes, I hope? Wishing you the best, m’friend, and sending you a hug big enough to reach you all the way across the Pond. 🙂

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      1. I’m good thanks – tired, stressed, but not flarey (or even flarettey) and all the better for that hug! 🙂

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  12. Irma says:

    Glad it went well, Wren. I could never muster up the courage to inject my thighs. It seemed it would hurt a lot more, even if it was SubQ. A few times I would get my nurse friends to inject my arms to give my belly a break. I hope it starts kicking dragon butt!

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    1. Wren says:

      Dang, me too, Irma! Funny we’re all different about what makes us feel squeamish. Hope you’re feeling good today! 🙂

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  13. Leslie Rott says:

    Wren, I too am totally freaked out with the idea of injecting in the belly, and so have never done it. I dreaded my Humira injections while I was on it, and the syringe is better than the pen, but the pen traumatized me so much that I could no longer self-inject. My lupus decided to flare royally, so I ended my hate-relationship with Humira not because of the injection itself, but due to side effects.

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  14. Wren says:

    Hi, Leslie! I’m glad you didn’t have to keep using it, since it was causing you so much trouble. If you’d told me six months ago I’d inject myself with ANYTHING in my belly, I’d have laughed and said “NEVER!” But here I am, and so glad it didn’t hurt. It was like … nothing. Such a huge change, I’m amazed.

    I know you’re going through some continuing hard times right now. You’re on my mind a lot, and I hope things start looking up again. Sending a big ol’ hug to frozen-solid NYC to you. 🙂

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  15. Lene says:

    Yay! That’s awesome. I get my shots in my belly, too, but it stings like a sonofa… well, you know. Might be because it’s usually straight out of the fridge. I’ve found that a hard pinch and holding it while the medication enters the body helps.

    And you got a new picture. Lookin’ good!

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  16. Wren says:

    Why thank you, Ms Lene! Maybe it doesn’t sting my belly because I’m a lot fatter than you. 😉 It may be the only good thing about being overweight I’ve discovered yet! Why don’t you let the medicine warm a little before injecting? Do you ice at all? Since I did that from the start with my thigh jabs, I don’t know if they really make any difference, but that was the advice I found.

    Good to hear from you! Does the pale blue-gray background help you avoid migraine when you stop in to visit? Hope so! Sending a warm hug your way, and hoping that interminable, freezing cold you’re enduring will soon break so some spring can peep in. 🙂

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    1. Lene says:

      Yes, this is much better! I can read your wonderful posts without migraines!

      I get my shots from my doctor/nurse. There isn’t time to warm it up or ice me. Besides, it’s max. 20 seconds worth of sting, so I suck it up. And my swearing amuses them 🙂

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  17. Elizabeth says:

    Even after I got comfortable injecting twice a week (with a normal needle and syringe, rather than a pen), I would get nervous. Sometimes I think the nerves hurt way more than a little needle- though that little thing does poke quite a bit. Usually I numb myself with a bit of ice first though, knowing I can’t feel anything usually helps me do the injection. And yes, the stomach hurts WAY less than the thighs!!! It’s freaky but hey, it works!

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    1. Wren says:

      Elizabeth! So nice to hear from you! 😀 I totally agree that anticipating the jab is far worse than the jab itself. Funny how our minds build up the anxiety and fear to such a degree! I always feel so silly afterward. But no longer–the stomach jab is much, much easier to take.

      Here’s hoping you’re feeling well and enjoying yourself, my friend. Sending a warm hug over the sea to you. 😉

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