The BS of my MS

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis April 11, 2006. It was a fairly quick diagnosis and there are days/weeks I can mostly ignore it. For those days I can't, this blog documents my journey.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Well, I have given myself one shot by myself--two in total. The one with the nurse, as I said, wasn't bad. The one I gave by myself was less-than-comfortable. It wasn't horrible, but I think I was holding back, as I had a smidge trouble getting the needle to go in my leg. And I forgot to let go--to stop pinching. I have a little red spot known as a "site reaction" that is pretty common. It doesn't hurt. It's just pink.

I am totally freaked out by the biohazard symbol. Maybe it's from going to hospitals a lot as a child, as my father was in and out of hospitals. There is something about them that totally freaks me out, and I hate when they put chairs underneath them in hospital rooms. I always move the chair. Well now, I have to have a little container like that to put my needles in. It has one of the spooky symbols that looks evil. Ugh. As if stabbing myself with a needle is not anxiety-inducing enough, I then get to have one of my top fears all around me. Ugh. Seriously, this may sound dramatic, but I have never ever liked biohazard symbols. So, I am convinced this is some cruel joke from God.

My hands are still numb--kind of tingly. I can use them just fine, but I don't have full sensation in them. Other than that, I am doing well...walking well, standing well, etc.

People remark about how well I am doing with this emotionally. My therapist seems to think I am internalizing the emotional piece of it all. My friend thinks I am, too. But really, other than those first couple of days, I have been doing fine. I am kind of too busy to sit and dwell on it. And lots of people have MS, and lots of people do just fine with it. Part of me wonders if I should be more worried or concerned than I am. Should I be? I don't know. But for me, it is just about taking the medicine and hoping for the best. What else is there to feel?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Yesterday was my visit with the field nurse affiliated with the medicine I am taking. She told me all about the medicine, what it can and cannot do, the side effects, and then she showed me how to do an injection. I practiced on a faux-flesh pad thing, and then practiced with the auto-injector. Then, the big moment came to do it to myself. It didn't hurt at all. Now, I have plenty of fat on my tummy to inject into, and the needle is really thin, but I was surprised. I didn't even feel a sting. Now, maybe I had too much adrenaline going through my body; maybe next time will be different. But so far so good.

There are 8 different places on my body I can inject--actually 4, both sides of my body makes it 8. They are: my stomach, my thigh, the back of my arm, and the top of my butt/hip. The stomach and thigh seem like no problem; the others seem a bit trickier.

In a sense, the injections made it more "real." Yes, I was on steroids, but this is the first thing I have done that is specifically for MS. I'm totally okay with it; it just was more real, if that makes sense.

My counselor seems surprised that I am not emotional about this. People at my parents church are like, "How are you??" with concerned looks on their faces. I respond, "I'm good, how are you?" I mean, seriously, it's what life has handed to me, and there is nothing I can do except take the proper medicine. It's possible that I have been so much in planning mode (dealing with insurance, trying to get funding for meds, etc) that I have been unable to "feel" it yet. Or maybe when I have a new flare up of symptoms, I will break down. But so far, I am okay--minus the first couple of days where I cried a lot.

So, that's the update. Thanks for asking Gina :)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I received my medicine in the mail today. It came in a cooler with ice packs to keep it cold. The box of medicine itself is small, containing 12 syringes. It's hard to believe that little box is worth $1500+. Thankfully, it's only costing me $50, but still--that's a valuable little box.

The nurse comes tomorrow. I am a bit nervous about giving myself shots. I am not a huge fan of needles (who is?), but I don't like to think that I could be giving myself shots three times a week for the rest of my life. But it's good to know that I am getting the best medicine available on the market.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Friday morning, a nurse with the MS Lifelines program will be coming to my apartment to teach me how to do my injections for the medicine. On that day, I will give myself my first injection.

Honestly, I am a bit nervous about poking myself with needles three times a week. I am kind of a wuss. But I am sure it will get easier with time. Plus, since injections are the only options for slowing down progression, I will do what I have to do. Also, there are side effects that people often experience for the first few months. The main side effect is "flu like symptoms" including a low-grade fever, chills, aches, etc. Am I the only person to whom this doesn't sound like fun? Hopefully with the tylenol regimine (I will take 6 total on the days of the injections), the side effects will be kept to a minimum. Another common side effect is injection site irritation--redness, swelling, tenderness. Once again, doesn't sound like fun. Less frequently people experience depression/anxiety. As you may know, I am already on medication for that. So, hopefully that helps, and hopefully I don't have to raise my dosage.

Oh well. It is just a blessing to be able to get this medicine. I am thankful that the drug company has programs for people with crappy insurance, or people who don't have oodles of money.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I haven't updated for a while. So here is what's new:

  • The big news is that I heard today from the drug company, and I was accepted into the patient assistance program. That means I get my medicine for $50/month, compared to $300+/month it was going to cost. Also, I don't have to pay the whole cost upfront and wait reimbursement. This is very good news. My first shipment will arrive Thursday morning, and a nurse will be contacting me to teach me how to do injections. Yes, giving myself shots makes me a bit nervous, but I suppose one perk to being fat is that I have extra cushioning.
  • After an assertive phone call to Blue Cross/Blue Shield yesterday, I finally got them to process my claims. They had processed some, but there were some from back in February that they hadn't processed, including my opthamologist appointment. So, after demanding to speak to a manager, my issue was resolved in about 17 hours. I spoke to them at 3 last night, and by 8:30 this morning, they had been processed. Makes me wonder what the delay was.
  • My right hand is going a bit numb. This is similar to how my hands were back in late November. I have called the nurse and let her know. Hopefully it gets better as it did then. I have also been having headaches, which may/may not be attributed to MS. They can be, but it's usually rare. Other possible causes could be the horribly rainy weather or the immense amount of stress I am currently under.
  • I am not as hungry all the time as I was with the steroids. Thankfully that side effect seems to have subsided, and now I need to get rid of the 10 pounds I picked up along the way. I am still experiencing some funky hormone action. The steroids made me skip my period (yes, I am sure I am not prego), and ever since I started back up on my birth control pills, my body is not sure what it wants to do on any given day. Maybe this is why my emotions are so haywire.

That's all I can think of for now.