So there we are; that’s what a year-or-so of weekly injections looks like.
Not included are the hundreds of ibuprofen and paracetamol tablets that I take each week before injecting to help stave off the side-effects of headaches, sweats and other flu-like symptoms that the drug can bring. Nor can you see all the blood-stained tissues that I used to mop up with if I happen to stab a vein as I inject into my thigh with the 1.25 inch long needle. Most of the bruises have healed and the little pock-marked injection-site scars on my thighs are hard to see unless you look really closely.
And you can NEVER see the way these injections make me feel on a Wednesday morning: the numb, unsteady feet and legs as I get out of bed; the weakened arms and shoulders; the overall feeling of fatigue and lassitude that sometimes lasts for more than 24 hours and sometimes never really seems to go away…. All for the possibility that these injections might help to slow down the progression of my MS. They think it might increase the gaps between the relapses that cause increasing disability by something like 18 – 32%. It may also destroy my liver function and decimate my red blood cell count, but that’s why I have the regular blood tests (next one due tomorrow).
Well, I’ve been injecting now since 2009, and my MS hasn’t really got any worse in that time…. So maybe it’s working for me? Or maybe my MS is “benign” after all? Who knows?
There’s no way of telling.
It’s not much fun, but it’s still a whole lot better doing this than doing nothing. For me, anyway. For now. Besides, I’m now a dab hand at taking bags full of syringes and needles through customs and onto aircraft. The declaration is only occasionally embarrassing, and I’m pretty sure that Johannesburg airport only meant well when they had a wheelchair waiting for me at the transfer gate. How many other people can say that they have injected themselves in a tent at Etosha National Park in Namibia, near Victoria Falls in Zambia, in a campervan in Fjordland in South Island New Zealand, on the Serengeti in Tanzania, on Vancouver Island and in the Rocky Mountains, in the sweltering heat of Cambodia or on a sleeper train on the way to Hanoi?
It only stops you if you let it.