Entry 03: Description on the not-syringe with which I will be administering the treatment.

posted 2000-Apr-10

2000-Apr-10 : Argh! I'm supposed to talk to my doctor before beginning the treatment (so we can work out the details of how things will work with me in Bryn Athyn for the summer). I left a message for him last Thursday morning, and having heard nothing Thursday or Friday (or all weekend), I called today (Monday) to try and get his attention...only to find that he's away for the week! His secretary says she doesn't have a way to contact him, that he never calls in when he's away, and she hasn't any idea whether or not he reads his email. (I'll obviously try anyway.)

How very frustrating! I was wanting to begin on Monday, so I could meet with him after the first four weeks of treatment, before I moved for the summer. This throws many things out of whack. The moral, I suppose, is that I apparently have to leave messages on a daily basis in order to get in touch with Dr. Di Bisceglie, and that I should never trust that he'll be there. (This is the second time he's vanished for a week, when he was supposed to call me back. The previous time he even told me to call him on a date when he turned out to be out of the office for the week.) I'm considering firing him as my doctor, but he does seem to be quite good at the medicine side of things, if not the getting-back-to-the-patient-in-a-timely-fashion side.

So, today's update is more information on the 'pen' with which I'm to give myself shots. The pen holds enough interferon for 2 weeks' worth of injections (with a little extra). 6 3/4 injections. The preparation process, for those of you not in the treatment, goes like this (disclaimer: don't use this information as a substitute for official information):

  1. Scrub hands thoroughly.
  2. Open new needle. Use alchohol wipe to clean the not-sharp end (where it attaches to the pen).
  3. Screw needle onto end of the pen. Note: I'd been telling people the needle was about 3/4" long. My judgement was wrong. With ruler in hand (but no needle) I revise my estimate to 5/16".
  4. Check for bubbles (or other) in the medication. If bubbles exist, dial up a small amount of medication and squirt it out, one notch at a time.
  5. Twist tip of pen 2 full turns to raise plunger to 3 Million Units mark (about 3/16" up).
  6. Swipe injection site with alchohol wipe.
  7. Stick needle fully into injection area (upper thigh, stomach, or outside of upper arm). I think I'll be choosing rotating spots on my thighs...I can't imagine giving myself a shot in the stomach, and the outer upper arms would be too akward.
  8. Fully depress pen's plunger.
  9. Wait 5 seconds for medicine to be absorbed.
  10. Remove pen. Apply bandaid.
  11. Dispose of needle in the special medical waste box.

Man, am I not looking forward to the first few injections. I know I'll get used to it, but there's something about doing the actual pain-infliction myself that creeps me out. (I'd be fine if some professional came to the house and stabbed me every other day.) I remember in high-school Human Body (aka Biology) class, I kept trying to do the finger prick and just couldn't do it. I had to have the instructor stab me--the pain was fine, it was the self-infliction that bothered me.

Positive ending note: I've been a little bit worried about moving back to Bryn Athyn, having been isolated for so long, because just about every time I visit, I come back with a cold. I've been extra-worried about how it will be to get sick while already undergoing treatment. Thankfully, one of the side-effects of the treatment is that with all the anti-viral medication I'll be under, it's very unlikely that I'll get sick for the next year. Yay!

Brent Schnarr
01:57PM ET
I feel for you about taking the needles. I had to have an allergy shots 2-3 times a week for 6 weeks and then once a week for 6 months the worst was when they ran out of medicine (about 24 shots) they would give me one shot in each arm (1 old 1 new). I dont think i could have done it myself (10 years old). The good thing you get used to it. Good Luck

10:16PM ET
Gavin, I'm really proud of you. This is a great website.
I'm anxious to hear what feedback you get from other people
with Hep C. If you really mean it about wanting someone to
come over and give you the shot every day, I'd honestly be
happy to help. I don't think that paying $30K/year qualifies
me as a medical "professional", but I'm still pretty used to
doing it. Also, as a side note, it is my understanding that
people with chronic liver disease should be vaccinated for
Hep A. Just want to make sure you've got that taken care of.
Love, Jessica
Gavin Kistner
01:24PM ET
Indeed, I gots my vaccines all wrapped up. I appreciate your offer, but at some point during the next year I'm gonna be without someone to give me the shot (like when I'm hopefully in Scotland in July). I suspect that, like Brent says, I'll get used to it, and so I've just got to bite the bullet and make myself do it. But truly, thanks!
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