Tuesday 6 September 2011

slide it in...

There isn’t yet a cure for multiple sclerosis, but every Tuesday night, I inject myself in the thigh with a drug that I hope will slow down the disease progression. There’s no way to tell if this is working, but I’ve always figured that it’s better to do something than to do nothing. Every Tuesday night, I take a sealed packet out of the kitchen cupboard; each pack contains a syringe filled with distilled water, a 1.5” needle and a little vial containing a disc of powdered beta-interferon 1a. I screw the syringe onto the vial and mix the water with the drug to form a solution; I then fill the syringe again, attach the needle and plunge it into my thigh to inject into my leg.

It’s not usually all that much of a big deal, and although I usually inject in my bedroom at home, I have also injected myself in a camper van in a stormy South Island New Zealand, in a tent in Namibia the day that I saw a leopard in the wild and in various other locations around the world. No drama.

The drug isn’t without side-effects: for most people this takes the form of flu-like symptoms and headaches. One of the reasons that you are advised to inject before you go to bed is so that you can sleep off the worst of it. Some people are affected so badly that they choose to stop injecting entirely as the drug makes them feel worse than their MS. I’m lucky: I barely get any side-effects at all. I take 1000mg of paracetamol and 400mg of ibuprofen before I start, and that seems to stave off the worst of it as I sleep (the only time I didn’t take the analgesics, I woke up in the middle of the night with an absolutely pounding headache…. So I’m not risking that happening again any time soon). Once in a while, maybe one week in five, I will wake up on the morning after injecting and feel as though I have been hit by a bus: every muscle in my body refusing for a split second to respond to my command to get out of bed. My MS often gives me a generalised sense of fatigue, but it’s never worse than on the day after injecting. I usually avoid exercise on a Wednesday for exactly that reason, but if I do go for a run, it always feels a little more of a struggle as a result of whatever it is this drug is doing to my body. Nothing too dramatic, but definitely there.

I’m running the Robin Hood half marathon on Sunday. With that in mind, I shifted my injection forward in the week to Monday to give my body as long as possible between the injection and the run. Of course, sod’s law meant that after weeks of injections with no problems as I’ve been training (running some 95 miles in August), yesterday’s injection seems to have hit me like a train and today has been harder than usual.


It was only a 3 mile trot tonight, as the taper down towards the race begins.  I find running deliberately slowly actually nearly as hard as trying to run really fast, but I'm hoping that today's jog will have worked some of the residual soreness from my training run on Sunday out of my muscles.  It seems to have shaken off some of this awful lethargy, anyway, which is a bonus.

We’re running to raise money for the MS Society, of course. Nearly £1500 raised so far, with £500 from my company to be added to the total and a further £325 or so of gift aid too. With any luck we should be somewhere near £3000 by the time we’re done… a magnificent effort by all concerned.

Thanks for all your generosity so far – but if you haven’t managed to get round to it yet, there’s still time to sponsor us. Click here....... every penny gratefully received.

Next week, I might have time to talk about something else.  Our forthcoming trip to Africa, perhaps? 

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