37. Not brave enough.

I always knew the bingo dabber was pretty rubbish. You only have to look at it to know that. The design is clumsy and the mechanism even more so. It’s quite simply spring loaded. When the trigger is pressed the spring is released and pushes the needle followed by the plunger into the flesh. Well more specifically my flesh (I don’t have to share it, it is mine and mine alone). Always at the same speed (quick), always at the same force (forceful) and always making the same ‘boing’ sound. It makes no adjustment for the area of the body (my body) that is being injected. It does not distinguish between sensitive upper arms, easily bruised thighs and more fleshy tummies. For a while now I have felt that not only does the bingo dabber do nothing to minimise injection site reaction but that it does infact make it worse.

I last went to the MS clinic a couple of days before Christmas (festive I know) and we discussed the down sides of the bingo dabber. It was whilst I was there I was shown another type of bingo dabber. Only this wasn’t a bingo dabber at all. It was an all singing all dancing space aged injector thingy complete with inbuilt mini computer. Several injections are stored in it at once. The depth of the needle and the speed at which the contents are released into the flesh can both be adjusted for each injection keeping reactions to a minimum. Wow. This was the Jimmy Choo of auto injector pens. It made the bingo dabber look like a flip flop from the bargain bin at Deichman Shoes with a sweat-rash-inducing man made upper.

I had lusted after the Jimmy Choo auto injector pen for only seconds when the MS nurse broke the sad news to me – it was only compatible for use with another drug. Not the drug that I am on.

The worse bit was that drug is only injected weekly – yes weekly – compared to mine which is daily. So my bingo dabber gets used seven times more frequently yet is exactly seven times more crappy. It didn’t make sense.

I have thought for some time that it may be better for me to try injecting without the assistance / hinderance of the bingo dabber. You know, actually stick it myself and press the plunger. Be brave about it.

I was given a quick demo of how this could be done using the same pretend-flesh-gel-pack thingy that was used when I was taught to use the bingo dabber almost two years ago. I should have known it was a bad idea when on the first attempt the needle wouldn’t pierce the pretend-flesh-gel pack and bent sideways. And all the time the shiny Jimmy Choo space aged auto injector sat on the side flirting with me.

I chose to give it a go for the first time on Christmas Day. I don’t really know why I chose Christmas Day of all days but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe it was the prosecco. Maybe it was the festive spirit. Maybe it was my Christmas pyjamas. Whatever it was I was feeling brave and so I went up to bed armed with my pre-filled Copaxone injection and a sense of purpose.

I took the syringe out of the wrapper and warmed it between my hands. Having considered all the options I decided my tummy was the best spot. It’s usually the ‘best’ area anyway as I have the least reaction there and it’s the least painful especially since the post-pregnancy wobble. I pinched some of the wobble between the fingers of my left hand as instructed and holding the syringe in my right put the needle to my skin.

It’s amazing how hard the skin is. How hard human flesh is, even on wobbly areas. I expected the needle just to go in but no matter how hard I pushed it wouldn’t. Ok so I didn’t push very hard. Infact I didn’t push at all. I just couldn’t. I wasn’t brave enough.

There’s something very strange about actually sticking a needle into your own flesh. It messes with your head. After all we are programmed to protect ourselves not hurt ourselves. When we fall we put out our hands to try and minimise the damage. If something flies towards us we instinctively put up our hands to protect our head and face. And this was no different. My brain was shouting ‘don’t hurt me’ ‘don’t do it’ and paralysed my hand from pushing any further.

After a couple of minutes of paralysis I admitted defeat, popped the syringe into the bingo dabber and proceeded as normal.

I haven’t been brave enough yet to try again. I’ve had a few well meaning offers from people offering to do it for me but the thought of that is even worse. I even know several people who have had to / do inject themselves without an auto inject device and to be quite honest I don’t know how they manage.

It seems to me that the only was forward is for the makers of Copaxone to pull their fingers out and make a better auto inject device. An even shinier and fancier version of the Jimmy Choo injector. And if they can’t quite manage that just now, I’d settle for an actual pair of Jimmy Choo’s to be going on with ….


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