Last week it occurred to me that struggles (in life) are a little bit like underwear. Everyone has some but most of us wouldn't really want to wear someone else's. Ew. That would be gross!
So, on that note...
The other day I got a package at my house. Generally I am thrilled when a package shows up here because the contents are unexpected or fun or exciting.
This time not so much.
Inside this box was a boatload of stuff relating to my newest Crohn's treatment. Just over a week ago I had my first injections of Humira and this treatment will likely continue for a very very long time...possibly the rest of my life. (Read about Humira and Crohn's disease here.)
I told you before about TNF blockers and that is what Humira is, but I have since learned these meds are also called "biologics" and that sounds so much nicer to me that I think I'll stick with that. Some biologics are made from pig or mouse bits, but Humira is more humanized so it is often better tolerated than others. I'm remaining hopeful.
Well, last Friday I took my first four injector pens into my GI's office so that I could learn how to use them. This is what they look like.
Two cute medical assistants took me into a back room and had me expose my belly (which I am not prone to do since it has housed six children and that fact shows in every fold and stretch mark...it isn't pretty so I usually keep it tucked in). The MA that was in training reached over, grabbed a chuck of stomach and pinched it into a mound then she pressed the injector pen into the mass and hit the button.
The actual needle prick doesn't hurt much, but it takes about 5 seconds for the pen to fully eject all the medication into your body and dog gone it, those suckers sting! It feels a bit like being stung by a bee.
In the stomach.
(In the future I can do them in my thigh if I would rather, but this visit was all about tummy time.)
This first time I had four injections; the MA did two of them and I did the other two (if anyone is going to be stabbing me with needles every couple of weeks for the rest of my life it is going to be ME whether I hate needles or not). In two weeks I'll have two more injections and then I will be down to the maintenance dose of one shot every two weeks for the foreseeable future. Thankfully I can do the rest of the stabbing in the privacy of my own home.
My intestines are pretty grumpy lately so I am very hopeful that this will help. I have read lots of good things about Humira (oh, there's lots of rotten stuff out there too, but I try to skip those parts for now).
I am also now on an immunosupressant called Imuran which will hopefully help my already cnfused immune system not attack the Humira so that it can better do its job. I'm still taking a low dose of Entocort as well, but I am really looking forward to being off that one; we do NOT get along well.
It would be really great if Humira could put my Crohn's disease in a headlock and keep it in submission for a very very long time. That's what I'm aiming for, but we'll see. I do get tired of piercing abdominal pain, not being able to eat, extreme fatigue, constant copper mouth flavor, aching joints, flaming bone pain and all the rest. I would love to send this disease for a good long time out so that is could adjust its nasty attitude. But no dice, we'll be playmates for a while yet.
Anyway, I feel immensely lucky that there are treatments available to me so that I can get through my gut struggles. It may not be what I would choose (what I would choose would be no Crohn's and a million dollars, thank you) but it is manageable. And, like I said, as I lay out my trials and compare them to what many other people have to go through, I will happily stick with what I have.
I am grateful for the things I am learning and for the "training" my Heavenly Father is giving me through my problems. If it was left up to me I wouldn't have problems, but if it was up to my children they would never have to do chores and they would only eat ice cream, so I get it.
But I still hope Humira will be my intestinal knight in shining armor. I'd love to have it work wonders on my gut.