02 July 2009

...and THAT'S What $800 Looks Like on the Wall...

Today was my first shot of Humira... but I will get to that in a minute...

First, I want to talk about needles. I was first going to bring this topic up about seven or eight months ago, but I got sidetracked. It is better this way, though, because I have so much more experience with them than I did then. In the past year, I have been exposed to so many different types of injections and blood draws- even acupuncture. I am a human pin cushion. There are the shots that hurt like a red hot sword being plunged into your body and there are the shots that feel like little stings- only to feel like your arm or leg is going to fall off a few hours later. There are the nonexistent pricks from the acupuncture needles that can actually feel good in a way. And of course there are the endless blood samples- with the phlebotomist digging around in the crook of my arm, trying to find the one vein that will produce.

I hate needles. Not in the way that most people hate them, though. I am not afraid of the needle itself. I can watch it pierce my skin with no problem. I hate what the needles bring- the toxins that enter my body through these metal shafts, bringing with them the side effects and aches that compound my already delicate situation.

Today I met my match in needledom. As I mentioned previously, I got my first shot of Humira today. It was administered (with a healthy laugh, which I will talk about in a minute) by the head nurse, Janice, at Dr. Afrasiabi's office. The only problem is this: she was just showing me how to do it- Humira is a self-injected drug. It's not that hard- it comes packaged like an epi-pen. Put it up against my thigh, push the button, needle shoots down, administers the drug, the end.

The only problem is that it was the most painful shot I have ever received. The needle entering the skin was no problem. The drug itself felt like acidy fire oozing its' way through my ample fat layer. I told Heather that she was going to have to sit with me the first few times I do it, because I just don't think I have the courage to do it alone. It only lasted maybe five seconds, but that was the longest five seconds of my life.

The great thing about Humira, though, is that unlike methotrexate, as soon as the shot is over, it doesn't really hurt any more. Also, seven hours later, I haven't shown any signs of side effects. By this point with methotrexate, I am usually sick, sick, sick. Bad news is that I am back on the methotrexate again next week. So every other Tuesday will be the Humira shot from hell and every Thursday will be the "let's all get the flu" methotrexate shot. Everything I have read about Humira, though, says that I should be doing back flips like Mary Lou Retton within a month or so... one can only hope.

The comic relief that came from the day was when Janice was showing us how to uncap the Humira Pen. Now without insurance, each pen costs roughly $800. That is not a hyperbole, look it up. So she takes off the gray needle cover, and then uncaps the plum top. She has the needle end pointing toward the wall and is talking about how it is dispensed when she starts to put the plum cap back on. A red flag went up in my mind, because in my readings and research on Humira Pens, it always says: "DO NOT REPLACE THE PLUM CAP AFTER REMOVING IT." As the warning flag went up in my mind, the pen engaged and shot $800 worth of Humira all over the examination room wall.

All we could do is laugh. She said thankfully they keep a stock of them (thank God, because I only get sent two a month), and she went and got another one. It was definitely the levity I think we all needed to get through this.

This is new territory for me. I am excited because I have heard almost nothing but good things about Humira. After spinning many plates and jumping through numerous hoops, we got my portion of the copay for Humira down to $5 a month. That is completely reasonable... although I think the people who pay full price would have an apoplectic fit to find out we just sprayed $800 all over the wall this afternoon.

There are many other things to talk about... like our AMAZING trip to Monterey or my runaround with my (soon to be ex) acupuncturist... but I will leave that for another day.