Having panic attacks over starting Humira

I have recently been prescribed Humira by my dermotologist due to failing on Mtx. I really like Mtx when it was working but it stopped working about the time I had my previous check in March, so at my last appointment he was thrilled to be able to start me on this as it is a better medication for psoriasis and psa. Me… not so thrilled. As I barely made it through the TB test he remarked “boy you really don’t like needles.” But was no real help other than to hand me a pamphlet on humira and say let’s get you started. That ended my appointment. Now I have a mortgage payment worth of drugs in my refrigerator that reduces me to a blubbering or half catatonic mess when I think about having to do this. I feel horrible, so it’s not even a matter of feeling well and thinking I don’t need it. I have barely been able to make it through work this week, I took the middle of the day off yesterday because I was so exhausted and in pain I couldn’t work- I work with young children. Just looking at them freaks me out and thinking about it makes me cry every time. In theory a humira nurse will come out and train me but I have yet to hear from a nurse to set this up. Also, I have already done similar injection trainings in prior jobs and have watched the video on the website. I did not sleep much that night… I have people who will help me but I can’t even bring myself to have them do it. I literally cannot watch any blood draw I get. I turn away and close my eyes. Do not show me the needle, ever.

Hi there Emeraldaim, sounds to me like you possibly need the auto-injector pen rather than the syringe. To be honest the auto pen is usually what is presribed first for most patients anyway because it is so simple to use and you can't see a needle. I'd bet this is what is sitting in your refrigerator right now, especially as your dermy knows you don't like needles, and that you're worrying unnecessarily. And if it isn't it can easily be fixed when your script is next issued.

Hang on to the fact that Humira is the gold standard of treatment (along with other bios) and will control your disease not just minimise symptoms. Short term pain, long term gain!

I look forward to hearing your update once the nurse visits for your training session. And if they work the same system for you as they did for me they can come back for the second injection as well if necessary.

It didn't take me long reading this to realise that the way you feel about needles is very real.

Assuming you want to overcome it (and in my view Humira is worth that) then I reckon you need to persuade the right person that this is a real phobia .... the right person to direct you to a source of help. Who can you contact to set the ball rolling? Your dermatologist or the Humira nurse perhaps. Or maybe your Primary Care doc would be a better option.

If this isn't something that can be sorted quickly or at all, then surely there's the option of someone else doing the injection for you. Good luck, I'm sure it'll be okay but put your fears out there to get support.

I've had a phobia, so I know what intense fear is. I don't have a huge fear of shots, but I don't like being injected with anything (blood withdrawals don't bother me though) but anyway....when I decided on Enbrel I knew I wouldn't be able to push a needle into my body. So, I opted for the sureclick auto injectors. I love them. I'm not gonna lie, it hurts a little while the Enbrel is going in for about 12 seconds, but the needle doesn't hurt at all and afterwards there's no pain, either. You can do this! If you have good relief from your PsA, you'll look forward to that injection. :-)

It’s tough, Emeraldaim, we know. This disease is emotionally exhausting, quite aside from the physical effects. And yet finding a way to clear that 30 second hurdle is so worth it: you already know what PsA can do to your body, your mind and your life.
Level with the nurse and see whether you can work out a strategy that doesn’t have you looking at what’s happening. Would it help to maybe take something for the anxiety the first few times? You have a very good chance that conquering this fear will be so worth it.

I can relate I was literally having problems breathing before my first shot of Stelara. Not sure if the two shots are similar. But, once I gave it to myself, I said, "Oh my gosh that didn't hurt at all!"

I do still feel a little anxious before each shot, but I just expect that now. I mean it is medicine I'm putting in me, but it's medicine that is helping me Soooo much!

I use the auto-injector. It is pretty easy. Hope it gets easier for you! Hope someone can help. I never look at the needles when a nurse is giving me a shot. That does seem to help.

You can also set up an appointment with the nurse at prescribing doc’s office. It will be quicker. She can lead you through a few practices with a sample pen then he’ll you with your first injection. You never see a needle. You may decide you need to inject with her the first couple of times until you are comfortable doing it alone. I’m not going to say it’s pleasant or fun, but it turns out to be easier than it first seems. Good luck!

Just thinking, how did you get on with monitoring blood tests while you were on Mtx? Maybe the system's different where you are, but I was having monthly blood tests while on Mtx and I take Humira fortnightly ..... so if the intervals are similar for you, you're not looking at many more injections.

Long-term, the simplest answer is obviously for you to overcome your fears, and perhaps the auto-injector will be the answer. But if the fear is extreme, why shouldn't you have a nurse do the injection, and a mild sedative if necessary? I really hope you're getting understanding and help from the nurse and/or your doctor. Will you let us know how you get on?

My husband gives me my shots. I settle myself in a chair and turn the TV on. I pick the spot, swab on the alcohol, and pinch the skin. I do not look at what he is doing. I usually concentrate really hard on what is happening on the television and before I know it, he has finished. A distraction is the key for me. Once the Humira took effect, I found myself looking forward to the shot. Good luck and let us know how you are doing. :)

I take Humira after years of Enbrel. Enbrel was two times a week and Humira only every two weeks. At first I was afraid to give myself a shot, but I got over it. The difference in the way you will feel will make you feel so much better that you will look forward to your next injection. I learned to prefer taking it in my stomach rather than the leg, and I don't like the self injectors, I take Methotrexate along with both of them and have never had a problem. Put on your big girl panties and get on with life. Kind of blunt, but oh well.

So, tell us have you started your treatment? How did it go? Hopefully the anxiety can be overcome!

I'm hoping to hear from you too! If it's 'just' fear we can maybe help egg you on. If you are dealing with a serious phobia, you need some help with getting through it or around it. Hope you're okay.

I only wish you well, although I may sound mean. (really I am not). I hope you are ok.

I, too, am hoping you started your injections and you're pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. Also, jennyb, I didn't know Enbrel was prescribed for 2 times/week, except for the first 3 months. Can I ask why you had to switch to Humira?

I was on Enbrel for many years and liked it! My doc was upset when I changed to the prefilled stuff; before that I was mixing it myself, and there was zero pain involved. It had worked so long that he didn't want me to change anything! Eventually, the Enbrel just stopped working, as my blood work showed. So I changed to Humira, which seems to work well (but for some reason, I prefer Enbrel) I used Enbrel two times a week for years...........never any different, and it wasn't a mistake on my part (which is known to happen)

If my WBC and ANC don't keep dropping and I can stay on Enbrel, I think I'll ask for 2 doses a week again. It is good stuff! A thought I had was if you used the auto-injector in your thigh, maybe that wasn't the best place for it. There's most likely more fat in your stomach (at least there's more fat in my stomach). My thighs don't appear to have much fat on top where the shot is recommended. But, my nurse daughters have told me they always use the stomach when any shot is supposed to go into fat.

I always do my injection in my stomach, there is a LOT of fat there. I don't like the auto injector because I don't like not knowing when it is coming. If I push the plunger myself, I know exactly when it is coming, and it doesn't sting till the last few seconds, and then only for another second or so, and I am convinced that is the preservative, not the meds. The needle doesn't hurt at all. That is why I think that the self-mixing Enbrel was painless...there was no preservative in it. I felt really good with Enbrel. The doctor told me I would never need a joint replaced, the stuff worked that well. I have no problems with Humira either, but for some reason, I still prefer the Enbrel. My doctor was not surprised about that.

What is the WBC and the ANC? That must stand for something in the UK.

The dosing question is one for tntlamb. He knows way more about that kind of thing than anyone else here. I’m sure he will offer some wisdom up at some point.

WBC is white blood cells. I guess if the number goes too low, there's a higher risk of not having good immunity against a lot of things. I was worried it meant I could get leukemia or something, but I guess an unusually high WBC could indicate that. The ANC is ABC Neutrophil, whatever that is. I think it's another type of white blood cell.

Boy did I get that wrong!