Posts Tagged Travel

Drug Day and an Important Enbrel PSA

When I first got on medication for RA, I took my methotrexate the day it was prescribed (at one of the most depressing and sober happy hours I’ve ever been to) and my Enbrel as soon as it was approved by insurance and shipped to me. I was so desperate for relief, I didn’t think about what day of the week would be most convenient to take 8 tiny pills that make me exhausted and slightly nauseous. Or which day would be best to remember to take my shot, meaning I needed to be by my refrigerator with privacy, alcohol swabs and an ice pack.

At any rate, I recently decided to maximize fun by cramming it into a weekly drug-fueled night of excitement on what is already the best night of the week: Monday. Just kidding.

Monday nights for me now consist of trying to get a kick-ass workout in after work – usually weights and hip-hop dancing. The endorphins boost my mood and working out makes me feel powerful. That helps combat the feelings of weakness that go along with being dependent on drugs, the confusion I sometimes feel when I swallow pills that I know are both a cure and poison, and the wimpiness I feel when I cringe giving myself a shot.

After that, I make myself dinner and settle in for a night of relaxing on the couch. This is only made slightly less relaxing by icing my leg while my shot warms up, then giving myself my injection of Enbrel. Dinner is only slightly less appetizing when the second course is 8 pills of methotrexate. I find that eating a lot before and a little after taking my pills helps with the nausea.

I also find that some good, distracting TV helps. ­čÖé

Anyway, that’s my drug day routine. What’s yours? What makes it more tolerable for you?

Also, for those of you that made it through my drug day rant, I have an Enbrel PSA: according to one of the Enbrel support nurses, the FDA has now approved Enbrel to be unrefrigerated (stored at room temperature) for up to 14 days. The only caveat is, once you take it out of refrigeration, it should remain out and must be used within 14 days. For anyone who’s tried traveling with Enbrel (especially on long overseas flights after FAA regulations no longer allow flight attendants to store passenger drugs in refrigerators), this is awesome news.

I was trying to find the post with my Enbrel travel story, but I either never typed it or it’s poorly tagged. I’ll tell it quickly here. When I was flying to Spain I had to take a three hour domestic flight, followed by a four-hour layover in Miami, an 8+ hour flight, a taxi ride, and not being let into our apartment for two extra hours. Needless to say, my ice pack thawed during my layover and my Enbrel travel case was soaked.

This meant tracking down plastic bags of ice in Miami. The best the flight attendants could do was give me a bucket of ice that turned into a cold, wet bucket of water that inevitably got all my carry-on items wet because it had to be stored under the seat but only fit beneath my feet. In all that travel time, the only place that allowed me to use their refrigerator to store my syringes of Enbrel was the cafe in Spain where we killed time. After that fun experience, this news is VERY WELCOME.

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Injection Insights

But I think it gets easier...

In the last post I said I’d become a stabbing pro. I may have exaggerated a bit, but I will say that it has gotten much easier. It still hurts and it’s still not fun, but I don’t have to give myself a five minute pep talk before injecting myself anymore. I don’t have to countdown from 10, just to start the countdown again (it only takes the one countdown). I just take a deep breath, breathe out and press the blue top of the injection pen, count to 15 as the medicine flows in and I hear the second click and, walla!

I will share a few slight incidents in the Enbrel Chronicles however.

First up, traveling with Enbrel.
My third shot would find me on a trip to Costa Rica, which meant traveling with a medicine that had to be┬árefrigerated┬ábut couldn’t be frozen. I packed it in my backpack with the Enbrel travel ice pack and a larger ice pack. This actually stayed cold enough to make it through six hours on a plane and five hours in a car.

I lucked out, because in Costa Rica I had a fridge in my room. When we arrived the room wasn’t ready, so the very, very nice woman at Hotel Luna Lleyna in Playa Tamarindo (I highly┬árecommend┬áthis place, but that probably belongs on a different blog) stuck my medication in the beer fridge. When the power randomly went out for a day, she filled a big container with ice to keep the medication cold.

All of this refrigeration was a bit of a pain, but dealable. Laughably, when I finally gave myself the injection, I didn’t let it warm up enough – it didn’t quite make it to room temperature – and the shot hurt quite a bit and left a bruise that lasted for the rest of the trip. I won’t make that mistake again!

Second, the glitchy blue button…
I was feeling confident about my injection after Costa Rica. I had done this a few times. It hurt, but it wasn’t that bad. I also now knew to make absolutely sure it was at room temperature, so I let the pen warm for 35 minutes before sitting down to give myself the injection. I did my little internal pep talk (not the five minute version, the 30-second elevator pitch version) and my countdown and pressed the blue top, nothing. I adjusted the pen, did the countdown, and pressed again, still nothing. I did another countdown, changed my finger placement and pressed again, nothing.

I began randomly pushing it from every angle, nothing, nothing, then randomly CLICK! I think I visibly jumped, but did manage to hold the pressure to my leg.

Not sure why it was so glitchy, but some of the medication definitely ended up on my thigh rather than in it.

Finally, a weird injection site welt.
After the  startling injection the week before, I was a bit nervous, but this injection turned out to be easy and pain free. I was relieved. I felt I was finally making headway.

Then, about 12 hours later, while at work I may add, my thigh started itching. I was wearing a skirt, so I scratched and was appalled to find an orange-sized welt at the injection site. I Googled it and found it was relatively  common, so I refrained from freaking out.

I used hydro-cortisone cream and the welt eventually turned to a bump and eventually faded (it took about 24 hours for it to disappear). I’m hoping that was a one time thing, but I’ll keep you updated.

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