Injection anxiety

I’ve been taking Avonex since I was diagnosed with MS in November 2015. When I was told that the treatment was a once-a-week injection, I thought, “No problem! I take insulin twice daily. I can do this!” Then I saw the needle and realized that it’s a completely different experience, to say the least! The idea of sticking a needle deep enough to penetrate my thigh muscle was really unsettling. Even now, more than 5 months later, I’m still having a hard time with it.

I started taking Avonex using the titration kit: first dose was a quarter of a dose, second dose was a half of a dose, third dose was three-fourths of a dose, and the fourth a full dose. When I refilled for the following month, I switched to the auto injector, thinking that it would be easier to administer. At first, it took away some of the difficulties of actually sticking myself with a needle. All I had to do was attach the needle, cock the injector, place it on my leg and press the button.

The first few times, the auto injector seemed relatively effortless. I pressed the button, counted to five and pulled off the injector. It was painless and the only sign that I had an injection was a small spot of blood where the needle went in. I thought, “That was easy!” This continued for a few weeks.
After some time had passed, I had a different experience entirely. I hit the button, the needle injected, but this time, I felt a slight bit of pain. The pain wasn’t at the point of injection however, but next to my knee cap. It wasn’t a horrible pain, but I did notice it.

One week passes, and the time comes for my next injection. This time I’m a bit spooked about pressing the button. I make several attempts to push the button, but I back out, take the injector off my leg and take a deep breath. I finally try again; I press the button and receive the injection with no problems: I’m pleasantly relieved. I have another few weeks of good injections, then a bad one. By now, I’m really spooked about pushing the button.

Last week, my husband and I were in Yosemite to celebrate my 50th birthday. I brought my Avonex injector and prepared to give myself an injection. I attached the needle, cleaned the site with alcohol and placed the injector on my thigh. Again, I agonized over pressing the button, but when I finally decided to push the button, the button wouldn’t depress. I tried with both hands, but it was stuck. After about an hour fiddling with the injector, the button finally depressed and I received the injection. Since I needed a refill for Avonex, I decided to return to the standard pre-filled syringe. When I tell my friends that I’m going to return to using a standard syringe and that I’m going to inject myself, they recoil and ask how I could consider that? I find that it feels better to me to have more control over the process than dealing with the anxiety over a stuck auto injector button.

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