Happy Friday! Friday to me means injection day. I know it is not the best day to have to do an injection, but it is something I have gotten used to over the past two years. My journey with Humira has been long – I have gotten over the insurance bumps, the delayed medication bumps, and the change in dosage bumps, among many more. Over time, I learned how important it was to develop a routine on my injection days.
When I first started Humira, I was doing my injections every other week which is the normal dosage for most patients. At first, I saw a ton of improvement in my symptoms, but it quickly started to wane. After a couple months on the every other week dosage, I saw a GI specialist who decided to increase my dosage to weekly. I was not really looking forward to this, but I knew all I wanted in the long run was symptom relief. If this dosage increase was going to get me there, I was going to run with it.
I started taking Humira weekly in January 2020, but I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get it approved by my insurance. It was denied multiple times because it was not the suggested dosage for someone with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis. Eventually when it was approved, the insurance would only give me the syringe and not the pen injector. I had only ever done the pen, so doing a syringe was a whole new world for me. It was scary at first, but I realized there were some benefits to doing the syringe over the pen.
After a few months of the syringe, I was able to switch back to the pen injector. It was met with a lot of relief. Now every time my insurance changes, I have to make sure I make all the right phone calls to get my Humira squared away. Just recently I had to go without one dose because my insurance would not approve it for me. You would think that the longer you take the medication, the more likely they are to approve it for you, but think again! The biggest barrier to getting my Humira has always been insurance, and I expect that to continue to be the case in the future.
After two plus years on Humira, I have taken up an injection day routine that includes my pen injector, my sharps container, alcohol swabs, electrolytes and a sweet reward. I noticed that after I would do my injections, I would start getting fatigue and my legs would be achy. Not fun especially if I have plans for a Friday night out. To combat this, I have been drinking something with electrolytes immediately following my injection. It seems to help with the fatigue aspect and keeps my energy levels up throughout the day.
I also set aside about ten minutes before my injection to relax and loosen up my body. Injecting into a relaxed muscle is much easier and less painful. I make sure I am in a familiar environment and that I do some breathing exercises to calm myself down. I have found it especially important to be in a warm room while injecting. If I am cold or have goosebumps on my skin, it hurts a lot more. I tend to do my injections in the morning, but doing them later in the afternoon or evening means I do not have to spend the entire day being tired or fatigued.
After I finish my injection, I of course have to give myself some sort of reward! The entire process of injecting can be really stressful, but it does not always have to be. When I tell people I inject every week, they always seem so amazed that I am able to do that. Trust me, I was so against starting Humira because the thought of injecting a needle into myself made me queasy. When you look at it from a larger perspective though, you realize that this medication may be life-saving for you so you do anything you can to make it a good experience. I also have the Humira Complete app where I track my injections and any reactions or symptoms I may have following injections. I highly recommend it because it includes a ton of great resources and can connect you directly to your nurse ambassador if you have questions or concerns.
Friday injection day has just become a way of life for me. It no longer bogs me down or puts a damper on my day. It is just something that I have learned to live with and will continue to do as long as it provides me with symptom relief. Everyone is different and I know Humira has not worked for some patients, but I am really happy with the results I have seen. Of course, a conversation would need to take place with your doctor first to determine the right medication or treatment plan for you, but if you are thinking about taking Humira do not hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have.
For those of you on biologics, do you have a medication day routine?