Defying Gravity

Today is Monday. The day all we get back in the saddle.  The day of aching ears, as we run a marathon of back-to-back-to-back conference calls (well, at least that’s true where I work).  Usually, it takes an extra cup of coffee to get through it all.  For me, it’s also the day I inject myself with methotrexate.  This medication was first introduced in the 1950s, and was originally developed as a chemotherapy drug.  Now, it’s also commonly used to treat moderate-to-severe Rheumatoid Arthritis.  And when I first learned that I needed the injectable one, I was petrified.

You see, I have always had needlephobia. Through a lifetime of routine tests, blood donations, a pregnancy, and a couple of surgeries, I’d never once watched a needle penetrate my skin.  The thought that I’d have to inject medicine into my own body every week made me, to say the least, very nervous.

My nurse was very patient (I admit, bad pun intended :)), teaching me to fill a syringe using saline and allowing me to practice by injecting an orange a few times.  Eventually, the moment came when I had to prove that I could do it.  On myself.  By myself.  With shaking hands, I filled the syringe with the yellow liquid, carefully tapped out the air bubbles, and tried to remember to breathe.  I then sterilized a small area on my belly, positioned the needle, took a deep breath…….and pulled away.

Nurse Yvonne was wonderful and encouraging, reminding me how well I did with the fruit.  Of course, the orange did not have RA, or any ability to feel the pinch of the needle, so it was just slightly easier.  Panicked, I asked her for a moment alone.  When she left the room, I closed my eyes and dropped into a brief meditation.  What would it mean to have some movement back in my body?  To me, to those I love?  What would I do to make that dream a reality?  I sang a favorite song to myself, “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked” (my go-to inspirational song).  I pictured all I had recently faced and how far I had come.  Within minutes, the tiny needle seemed even smaller.  When I opened my eyes, my hands were steady.  Nurse Yvonne rejoined me, and in one quick motion, I did it, overcoming a fear I had held for almost 37 years.

For me, every Monday’s injection is a reminder of my inner strength.  Unlike my sister, I never aspire to a medical career, but needlephobia is definitely in my past.  Sometimes the smallest things can make us feel the most powerful.  Of course, a little Broadway inspiration never hurts. 🙂


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