This week marks a decade since I first felt it. It referring to a Humira injection. To this day, I can still envision myself shaking like a leaf as the nurse in the doctor’s office instructed me on how to self-inject a biologic drug into my thigh for the first time. Rather than give me the four loading dose injections, she made me do them all by myself. I was petrified. I was emotional. I was worried.
I had no clue if this heavy-duty medication would help ease my symptoms. I had no idea how it would feel to inflict pain on myself. I was overwhelmed, frail and healing from a hospital stay days before, following an abscess the size of a tennis ball in my small intestine. I was 24 years old.
I did one. It felt like liquid fire burning through my skin. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I had to do three more of the very same, while sitting in that chair. My mom looking on with a concerned look in her eyes. Wishing she could take the pain away. Wishing her daughter didn’t have to resort to this as a way of maintaining health. It was brutal. But I did it. Once the loading dose was over my mom and I walked together in the hallway towards the exit. We paused and hugged for several moments. I still remember the embrace.
Fast forward 10 years. I’ve given those very same injections 267 times. Two loading doses (10 injections), four months of weekly injections (16) and 120 months of bimonthly injections (240). To this day, I am not desensitized to the pain or the anxiety associated with my Humira Mondays. But that’s all about to change.
Starting later this summer, sometime in August or September, for the first time in over ten years, I will self-inject with a brand new Humira formula. A formula that no longer includes citrate. This type of Humira has been approved in Europe for more than a year and is currently available to pediatric patients in the United States. This a HUGE lifechanging moment as an inflammatory bowel disease patient. My maintenance of my disease is about to get a so much easier. My Monday evenings will be so different.
Rather than dread the injection as I stare at it on my kitchen counter, it won’t be a big deal. My husband and son won’t need to watch me wince in pain and fight back the tears as I count to 10 and hold the needle in. Since I started Humira in 2008, I never expected this day to come. I didn’t know it was possible. It still seems too good to be true.
I’ve battled Crohn’s disease for nearly 13 years. This new “pain free” formula for Humira is a major patient win for anyone who depends on this drug for quality of life and healing. I’ve heard from my GI and from patients who have used the new citrate free pens, that you can’t even feel the medication going in and that I may wonder if I even got the medication! It does my heart good to know that young pediatric patients will no longer have to endure the pain and be so fearful of receiving their medication. Words can’t express my gratitude and excitement, as this change will help ease my life as a chronic illness patient in a big way.
This evening as I do my injection, it will bring me comfort to know the moments of pain will soon come to an end.