Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crohn's Junkie

Invariably, the first thing that comes to an average person's mind when they see syringes is "junkie" or "druggie."  Needles and syringes get so much bad press when it comes to hardcore drugs and HIV/AIDS.  People don't always say this, but you can see what is on their mind by the aghast look on their face and the telling look in their eyes.  I am not a druggie nor am I a junkie, so why does this matter to me?  It matters because I do give myself injections.  If you have had an intestinal resectioning, odds are you are in the same situation as me.  There are certain nutrients and vitamins that are only absorbed by certain parts of the intestine.  If you get a resectioning, then your body's capacity to absorb those nutrients is either greatly diminished or completely obliterated.

When I had my terminal ileum of my small intestine and the first portion of my large intestine removed, my body lost most of its capacity to absorb B-12.  B-12 is the only vitamin known to man with no toxic levels.  It is also the vitamin that helps with processing of oxygen and keeping you going.  I have tried sublingual (under the tongue) and nasal spray supplements for B-12 with no success in the early 2000's. That only left one option open to me: B-12 injections.  For those of you that are really, really, really (continue ad nauseum) tired all the time and have had a similar procedure, you should be getting B-12 in one of the three forms above.  If you aren't, then you should start immediately.

I really hate needles.  I hate needles to the point that I used to pass out when they came to close to me.  I would vomit from time-to-time after a nurse or a doctor would give me an injection.  I would have to lay down for 30 minutes after any injection just so that I wouldn't pass out while walking.  I don't know why that happened to me.  So when I finally realized I had to get B-12 injections, I was in sheer terror.  So instead of doing the right thing for my body, I abstained from taking any B-12 for several years.  I have never felt more tired in my life.  I always wanted to sleep and never wanted to get out of bed.  My blood tests always had my doctor on the alert at the time.  I pushed through with my life, but it wasn't living.  At some point, I was just so tired that I couldn't handle it anymore.  I gave in and got a B-12 injection during one of my monthly doctor visits.  Within 30 minutes, I really could feel something coursing through my body.  I felt a bit of a euphoria in addition to my usual nausea.  Later that day, I actually didn't feel as tired for a bit. This is starting to sound similar...

Since I was seeing my doctor every month, I decided I could handle the injection on a monthly basis and still live.  After about 7-10 from my injection, I always started to feel more weary and dead on my feet.  Over the next few years, I stopped complaining to myself about the injection.  I was actually ready for the injection.  It was a necessary dose of energy that I didn't get anywhere else.  And then I went to Hong Kong for three months.  There was no one to give me injections.  The Nasal Spray B-12 supplement still didn't work for me.  After 3 months, I really needed that dose of energy.  I hadn't felt that run down in quite some time.  When I returned to the states, I talked to my doctor about actually getting a prescription.  He told me that most people in my situation had weekly injections.  I shuddered at the thought, but the past three months was still fresh in mind and so I told him I would go for it and start self-administering.  This really does sound similar to another progression I am familiar with...

It took me a month to fill the prescription for the B-12 and the syringes; I had gotten an injection during my most recent doctor visit.  I remember sitting there with the syringe filled with B-12 and shaking.  I don't know why I was shaking, but I couldn't control it.  I had to put that needle in my upper arm, thigh, or butt in order for it to be effective -- one of my larger muscles.  Since I needed both hands, my arms as pin cushions were out of the question.  Since I had to sit -- so that I wouldn't pass out -- that only left my thigh.  I cleaned the area and put the needle to my skin.  I barely pushed when I had to let up.  I was like this for over an hour, unable to pierce or puncture my skin at all.  The slightest jolt of a synapse caused me to stop what I was doing.

After a large amount of time, I finally decided I need to push through it.  Push through the feelings and dread.  I poked several spots with the tip of the needle until I found a spot that didn't tingle as much as the others and then I slowly started to push. I felt it go in.  I felt every single inch of that needle in my thigh.  I felt the need to vomit as I violated my body with an alien object. After I calmed down, I started to push the plunger on the syringe.  Again, the nausea welled up and so I stopped.  I was pushing the plunger for an unknown amount of time.  It is amazing how 1cc of liquid can seem like so much when giving that first injection.  After I was done, I pulled the syringe out and jiggled the area while covering with a clean paper towel like the nurse taught me.  I disposed of the needle in my sharps box, which was directly next to me, and passed out for about an hour.

Six years later, I am still giving myself B-12 injections.  I wish I could say that I don't feel it anymore, but that would be a lie.  I did manage to get myself on a weekly schedule.  I no longer feel nauseous, but I do still feel a little like I am going to pass out afterwards.  With all the discomfort I go through, I can say that the PROS outweigh the CONS for those in a situation similar to mine.  I can feel the lack of energy growing greater as I get to the day of my injection.  I feel the change in my body within ten minutes after the injection.  While I know I am not a druggie, I must confess that I might be a junkie.  I certainly sound like one when I talk about how I feel arriving to the day of injection, after the injection, and the pains I make myself go through just to get the injection.  I can't imagine how a diabetic must feel having to give themselves insulin on a daily basis.  I didn't get to choose, but I think being a Crohn's Junkie and only having weekly injections is a tad better than being an Insulin Junkie and needing injections on a daily basis.  

I still hate needles.

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