Ten ways to make self-injecting easier

by Arthur's Place

Self-injecting is no fun, but chocolate and photos of Richard Madden really can make it a little more pleasurable!

There are a variety of arthritis medicines that can be injected – a quick look at our A-Z of arthritis medicines will tell you more – but, let’s be honest, self-injecting sounds about as much fun as a trip to a festival Portaloo on day three, wearing a white maxi-dress. It can be painful at the best of times.

Of course, it’s important to stay positive, and the good news is that self-injecting means you have more control over your symptoms with fewer trips to clinic. You can save your energy for more fun things instead, like seeing friends, baking cupcakes and heck, just about anything else is more fun, right?

But, this is Arthur’s Place, and we really wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t grill the professionals and scour the blogosphere on your behalf, for ways to put the joy into being a human pin cushion each week, fortnight or month, depending on your drug. Or, at least taking out some of the ouch and yuk and “oh, no, really?”. Go on, knock yourself out. In the metaphorical sense of course; unconsciousness, as tempting as it might be, is not a reliable method because it makes it really hard to get the wrappers off.

How to turn that self-injecting frown upside down (lord, did we really just write that?)

1. Don’t make it up

Don’t even think about trying to self-inject until a health professional has shown you how. Believe us, they’ve done it more times than Harry Styles has had first dates. It’s important to understand the appropriate technique, doses, timings and responses to your particular drug.

2. Love your fat bits

Rotate your injection sites, making sure new ones are at least 5cm away from the old one. Pick a site that is easy to reach, and one with a little extra fat (you see, there are upsides to not being icepick thin). Injection sites include top of the thighs or the tummy.

3. Get prepared

Get all your stuff ready before you start. It’s a right pain to have cleaned the area, pinched a fold of skin and braced yourself, only to realise the drugs are in the dog basket.

Some medicines need to be stored in the fridge. If so, they need to be out of the fridge 30 minutes before injecting, so they can reach room temperature before injecting. You’ll be advised what’s best for your medicines when you first receive them.

Remember to store your medicines and sharps bin out of reach and sight of children and animals, and lock them up if possible. Don’t keep them on a window sill.

4. Sites to avoid

Do not inject into the following: scar tissue, stretch marks, wounds, abrasions, infections or at a site where you can see a blood vessel underneath (blood in the syringe means starting over afresh). Avoid them like you’d avoid sitting next to the cast of TOWIE at, well, anywhere. That Fake Bake is hell to get off your clothes.

5. Thank the Lord for Richard Madden

Stare at a photo Richard Madden, Cara Delevinge, Kermit the Frog or whoever else is floating your boat while you do it. We’re not kidding. The ensuing rush of endorphins, which reduce your perception of pain, is a Very Good Thing. Why not make it a lifesize scratch-and-sniff version?

6. Chocolate we love you

Suck a polo or bite into a favourite chocolate just as the needle goes in. It’s amazing what a bit of Dairy Milk can distract you from. Again, we’re not kidding. Hypnotherapists recommend this.

7. Ice ice, baby

Numb the area first with an ice cube or a numbing cream, though check the latter with your doctor first. Have fun numbing other body parts afterwards.

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8. Get hot and wet

Take a shower just beforehand, as the heat can help muscles relax. It seems a pretty popular suggestion on infertility messageboards, with women who are injecting daily. Maybe they’re a mucky lot.

9. Get help

We all have good and bad days, and if it’s a bad day for you, give yourself a break and call your GP to see if a practice nurse can help. If you want a friend or family member to help, you must make sure they have been properly shown how to inject by a medical professional.

Just don’t be upset with yourself, if you can’t manage it. There are plenty of better things to give yourself a hard time over, like why on earth you started playing Candy Crush Saga, for one. Whatever you do, don’t skip a dose.

10. Focus on the bigger picture

And we don’t mean that Richard Madden picture here. This time we mean keep in mind that the medication is helping you stay on top of your symptoms and get on with your life. If it helps, keep a mental checklist of stuff you want to do this week – maybe a gig night out, a trip shopping or just a better week at work* / college. It has to be worth it.
* Only kidding.

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