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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Happy Needle Day To Me

August 15th is an anniversary of sorts. It's the day our little girl grew up and...sniff...lost her needle virginity. Unlike my real virginity ( lost on my wedding night) I truly had no idea that this was going to happen when it did. I don't mean that I woke up with an empty Novarel vial in my hand and a look of horror on my face while I exclaimed, "dear G-d! What have I done?" It was more of the I'm-in-the-middle-of-a-meeting-and-I'm-taking-a-call-from-my-RE-who-informs-me-that-I-need-to-come-to-a-self-injection-class-because-I'm-taking-hcG-this-week variety.

I'm pretty squeamish around needles and hate blood draws as well, so infertility and I are not a great combination. And it's a little trippy how they give you a quick lesson, a few practice needles, and tell you to purchase an orange while sending you on your way with very expensive drugs. Which happens in many other circumstances--self-injections are hardly unique to infertility. But I think I entered the whole thing in such a dream-state because I wasn't expecting it. It was like a cricket jumping out at me during what I thought was a simple Clomid/Prometrium cycle.

This is what I wrote right after that first injection when I was running around the apartment like I was trailing infertility firecrackers of excitement:

I always said I would never be one of those women who diminshed the enormity of something (because all it does is make other people feel like crap) but I really have to say for the sake of anyone who has a shot coming up, it really wasn't that bad. I was very nervous beforehand. But I just plowed through the whole thing and I think rushing the process rather than lingering in the anxiety helped a lot. I numbed the area with an ice cube, prepared the needle, numbed the site again because too much time passed , forced DH to sit across from me and pinch some fat too so I didn't feel all flabby giving myself this shot, and then jabbed it in. I didn't feel the needle go in because the skin was pretty numb from the ice. I think it was more psychologically troubling to see a needle in your stomach. I also felt a burning sensation for about 10 minutes after I gave the shot. And that area is a little sore right now. But really, for anyone who has a shot in front of them, I can say that it really is not as bad as having blood drawn. I never believed it when people said that but it turned out to be true.

I'm just on a high right now because I really feel like after doing that, I can do anything. It just gave me a lot of confidence in my own ability to overcome my fears.

Confidence building through infertility. But y'all know what I mean. That rush after you do something you never thought you could bring yourself to do. I think more interesting is the injection that took place the next cycle and the false bravado that carried it forward with the readmittance of enormity at the end:

I'm worried that I botched the hcG shot last night. I was hurrying through it, trying to be nonchalant about the whole thing. I was alone in the bedroom, trying to pretend the whole thing was commonplace and just a little nuisance. I ended up hitting a blood vessel. I now have a bruise on my stomach that is swimming in a sea of irritated skin. It hurts. I wish I had slowed down. The hcG shot really is a big deal.

Now that sounds more like the Mel I know. Because it is huge. Not pain huge, but psychologically huge. I think it goes back to that great write up Carolyn did for the HSG when she talked about the physical pain vs. the psychological implications of the procedure. The HSG may be the first step that pushes you from the "just trying" side into the Land of If. And the tears that come during that appointment may not just be from the actual physical pain (of which there is a lot), but instead the psychological pain of knowing that you are now on a very different road than the one you stepped onto when you first started trying to conceive. That first shot was a turning point for me and I didn't understand that magnitude until the second injection when I tried to pretend it was nothing and all of my fears caught up with me. It is something. It's something big.

Which is why someone with diabetes doesn't have it any easier than someone doing their first self-injection ever. Because it's not the needle. It's not the burn of the medication. It's the reason behind the shot--for diabetes, infertility drugs, other medications. I think we all can admit that there are many other painful things that we don't fear like we do needles--needles seem to hold a special status on the fear hierarchy. But it isn't the needles themselves. The pain is instantaneous. It's the psychological effects--the why you're holding a needle in the first place--that keep slamming into you long after the brusies are gone.


Lyrehca said...

Interesting perspective. As a longtime diabetic who has given herself shots for decades, I actually didn't think much of the first Lupron shots I took this cycle. Mr. Lyrehca got into the whole process of filling the right dosages and such, but if anything, I was glad to be moving on to the big guns of fertility treatments since my three IUIs and six months of regular fucking had, frankly, been a bust. The IVF injections of Lupron, Gonal F (which use a remarkably thinner needle than any insulin/Lupron shots I've ever given), and the HCG, to me, were like, OK, let's move on to something that's more likely to work than anything else we've done so far. I'm still waiting to see how this first IVF round works out, but again, I felt sort of hopeful and excited once I figured out that we were moving on to IVF. The shots were just another way to adminster medication, nothing more.

mandolyn said...

To anniversaries. (clink)

Kir said...

you must have read my mind, I did my first HCG shot last night (ok John did it) but I was antsy all day , waiting on 9pm. I was scared and anxious and when it was over I couldn't believe that my nerves had moved me past it. It was in no way fun, but I am glad that I got this far this time.
It's a great post because it really helps us to remember that what we are doing is "HUGE" and that every stop on the road is significant.

Southern Comfortable said...

This is a great post. I'm not on any injectibles yet, and they still scare me. I'm definitely not a needle person. I know I'll do it if needed, but I sure won't be happy about it. I do think you're right, though, that the real pain would not be the pinprick of the needle, but the heartache that the shots remind us of.

Somewhat Ordinary said...

I have a phobia with needles and I'm not the best patient in the world. Up until just finishing college I had my mother come with me for moral support during things as simple as throat cultures!

I haven't gotten to injections yet, but I've mentally prepared myself for the day we have to administer them ourselves. My mother is shocked that I'm at peace with it given my past, but I told her if it helps me have a baby, I'll try anything.I think I can handle the pain from the needle far more then the pain of NOT having a baby.

Anonymous said...

It took me a long time to do my first injection b/c I was crying and crying for exactly the reasons you mention -- realizing that It Had Come To This.

Although I've never done an hcg (or any other IM) shot to myself or anyone else, I was so blase with SubQ shots by the time I stopped treatment. Unfortunately, not a very transferable skill, but I really do feel empowered that I know it.

Sparkle said...

You know 'fear of the needles' was what freaked me out before we began our journey into IVF.
But once we started they became the least fearful thing (compared to waiting 24 hours for fertilisation results!)
Happy anniversay - I toast you with my clexane shot this morning!

Kris said...

Happy Anniversary!

Great post, as was your last one.