Saturday, July 25, 2009

Post-travel, pre-travel, and other rambling nonsense

This morning I administered my 19th shot in as many days, and all is still going well, for the most part. I'm noticing that the injection-site reactions are taking on a bit of a pattern--a bruise and/or welt (think extra large mosquito bite) that itches for several days, then goes away. I probably won't be searching for clothing that specifically exposes my injection sites any time soon, but then I've never been much of an exhibitionist, so all is good with the world.

Last week I took my first trip with the medication, and it was a piece of cake. Granted, this trip was like taking baby steps into the realm of traveling with meds--it was a 3 hour drive (no airplanes and/or security to deal with), it was my parents house (with ample refrigerator space for storage), and it was with my family, so I didn't have to find a private space in which to administer the injections.

Next week I'll be taking yet another baby step into this realm, driving 6.5 hours to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan for my bestest friend's wedding. It will be a little more complicated--longer drive (have to make sure temperature controls are in place, although it shouldn't be a big deal), and a stay in a rustic cabin (or at least that's how I picture it) on the lake. I'm relatively certain there's a refrigerator in the cabin, which I'm sharing with my bestie's mom (the entire cabin--not just the refrigerator). Since I have known both my bestie and her mom for the better part of 25 years, I think I'll be safe if she catches me mid-injection as well.

My summer travel plans, which are peppered with financial factors (economic smackdown plus new-found medical expenses), are free of airline travel for the foreseeable future. I think these mini-road-trips are a fantastic way to aclimate myself to traveling as a card-carrying injector (literally--I have a card that allows me to travel with my meds).

There has been talk of a camping trip later this summer... now THAT should be interesting. If and when it happens, I will surely have several neurotic posts as I figure out how the heck that will work. Thank jeepers for sites like this one, where someone has already tested a lot of equipment for active peeps dealing with pesky MS.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Evil Doggie Bottoms and Karmic Retribution

**WARNING--If you are not comfortable with stories about bleeding doggy bottoms, please stop reading now!**

Randy, my Jack Russell Terrier, is pure evil.

Let me backtrack a bit by telling you a bit about my (near) week at the farm in Iowa. As always, it was delightful. My brothers, sister-in-law, niece, parents, aunts, cousins, and grandma all had some quality time roaming around the Iowa acreage, and it was fantastic. With one small exception. Randy the Evil Jack Russell Terrorist.

My cousin's daughter is ten, and she is quite small and sweet. So you can understand why Randy tried time and again to eat her. My niece is 9 months old, and even smaller and (of course) as sweet as can be. So you can understand why Randy spent much of the week devising evil plots to eat her as well.

Randy's list of prospective victims did not end there. It further included the man who came to fix the water main, and the neighbor lady who had the audacity to jog past the farm (twice!).

I am seriously at my wit's end with this dog. I really don't know what to do with him. Am I the right person to handle this human aggression? I don't know the answer to that, or the answer to how to handle the situation.

What I do know is that Karma stepped in to bitch-slap Randy for his bad behavior. This morning, I noticed a funny little swollen area by Randy's bottom when he lifted his tail up. Naturally, the lump (think 1/2 of a golf ball slapped under the skin just left of his pooper) did not go away by itself (despite my passionate belief in the "if you ignore it, it will go away" theory). After work, I ran him to the vet to have his anal sacs expressed (yes, I'm taking this post there). Evidently, the anal sac was actually impacted, and when the vet went to express it, it ruptured a little (can something really just rupture "a little?").

So Randy, the Evil Jack Russell Terrorist, has been hobbling around, ears back (submissive mode), bleeding and oozing in the derrier. Karmic.

Or perhaps it's not so much Karma for Randy, but further punishment for me. After all, I'm the jerk chasing him around with a wet paper towel, cleaning the bleeding butt mound and trying to keep him off the furniture.

I guess the fairy tale of dog ownership isn't all it's cracked up to be...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Coming Full Circle

I officially made it through the full cycle of injection sites. Today is Tuesday, one week from the first day of treatment, and I’m back to the belly shot. Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts on each injection site, in case you’re morbidly curious:

1. Stomach--Fantastic
2. Legs--Frankly, both of them sucked. I think I need to change the needle depth, or sit with my legs situated differently… or something.
3. "Hips" (the polite way of saying "Butt")--Not bad… not bad at all!
4. Arms—the most daunting site of all, and they were a piece of cake.

The time it takes to do my injections is diminishing, and I am indeed turning it into a routine. And the good news is that I feel totally fine with the medication. No side effects, aside from the injection site reactions. Awesome.

Now that I have had one week to “master” the art of self-injection, I’m going to attempt to hop over a new hurdle by traveling (starting this afternoon). As such, posting over the next few days will likely be light. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Copaxone 2, Krista 1

That's all I have to say about that. We'll see how tomorrow goes, when the needle shifts 'round to my bottom. Good times ahead!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On speaking too soon…

So the shot in the belly was a piece of cake. Fan-freakin’-tastic. The leg? Not so much.

Perhaps it was the absence of the calming Needle Advisor gently guiding me through the process with nods and quiet reminders. Or maybe it is the fact that my legs are sculpted works of anatomical art with no layer of fat to protect the muscle (my blog=my reality, so please don’t argue!). It doesn’t matter. Whatever the reason, the leg injection kinda sucked.

I think my arm flinched a bit when snapping the release button, and I may have lifted the needle a fraction of a millimeter out of place. The entire injection basically pooled up in a giant, burning, under-skin mass (which was eventually absorbed). Now I’m left with injection-site swelling that feels a bit like ½ of a hard-boiled egg under the skin of my right thigh/quadricep—and I have a soccer game tonight (I favor my right leg, so my quads are important!).

Unfortunately, Copaxone has not yet been made aware of my competitive nature, and does not know that when issued a challenge, the only response I know is to kick it in the a$$. Suck on that, little needle. We’ll see how brave you’re feeling tomorrow when you’re going toe to toe with my left quad!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

End of the Era of Invincibility

Yup, today was the big day--my first shot of Copaxone. I woke up way too early, made several futile attempts to get some work done before my appointment, and spent the drive from my house in Minneapolis to the Neurology clinic in St. Paul pondering the upcoming appointment. To be perfectly honest, it was a pretty sad car ride. I felt like by treating the MS, I was resigning myself to the disease, no matter how mild the diagnosis. My days of unquestioned and unchallenged invincibility were over. Denial was no longer a viable option. I was accepting the MS--three months after the diagnosis, and more than 4 years after the initial problems began.

I was shaking a little when I met with the Needle Advisor, a wonderful nurse practitioner who was very patient, understanding, and personable. She pulled out some practice materials--syringes filled with water, a "skin simulator" puffy square thing that you can attach to your leg to simulate a real injection, and the autoject injection device. She carefully walked me through the process, with her using the practice materials once, and then me using the practice materials once.

And then it was the moment I had been dreading. I made the decision to administer my first injection into my belly. For some reason it seemed like the easiest spot. I prepped the autoject--loaded the spring, snapped in the syringe, and carefully removed the cap. I placed the tip of the autoject against my stomach. All that was left to do was to push the button that snapped the plunger into action and released the medication.

And then I froze. I couldn't pull the proverbial trigger. I gave myself all sorts of advice--some in my head, and I'm pretty sure some out loud. Finally, after what felt like an hour and a half (which is virtually impossible, since i spent less than an hour in the room), I squeezed my eyes shut and got up the nerve to push the button. With a loud "snap," the needle punctured my skin and the medicine was slowly released into my body.

And then I'm all "That's IT? Damn, I could have done that three months ago!"

Monday, July 6, 2009

BS Day

After nearly three months, it's finally here--BS Day (Before Shot Day). I have gathered up my equipment and medication, called the needle advisory with a few final questions, and have nothing left to do but wait until tomorrow morning (that's not true, I'm going out for a yummy dinner with friends of my brother's who are in town from NY).

But before that happens, I'll follow up with a few updates from previous posts:

1. Update on T09CP: I finally had some down time and dry weather during which I attempted to prime phase one of T09CP, only to find out that some dastardly hornets have taken over the eave thingy I was planning to paint. I managed to get a fair amount of priming done prior to this discovery, but the more obvious part of the project is now on hold indefinitely until I can get rid of the little jerks.

Unfortunately my first efforts to evict the buggers appear to have been unsuccessful. Hopefully the next can of wasp and hornet killer will do the trick. Fingers crossed, please!

2. Fourth of July weekend was fabulous--some highlights include: Johnny Depp (in a movie, not in person), Sushi, yummy wine, great company, fireworks, barbecue, awesome pulled pork, tasty homebrew, a little tennis, no injections.

3. The sharp shooting pains in my eye have returned, and have been lingering for a few days now. I don't know what this means, but I suppose the fact that I start my treatment tomorrow could be a good thing.

I can practically guarantee a flood of new posts after the injections begin tomorrow. Check back often to see what's what.