I am taking a new drug these days that has to be administered by a syringe. Correction. It is called an auto-injector. The auto-injector is designed to be a safe and more efficient way to use and deliver the medication. I have noticed though, that out of the six injections I have taken over the last month and a half, that perhaps the design needs a little work. Twice now we have had problems with the auto-injector doing what it is supposed to do.
The first time we used one we couldn’t get the syringe to work. There are certain steps you have to take to use the syringe. First you need to watch a video that shows you how to use it.
I watched the step-by-step procedure one day while I was at home waiting for my wife to show up. When she got home I told her that I wanted her to watch it as well because she was the one who was going to be giving me these shots. We were going up to the hospital and a trained nurse was going to supervise us while Lois administered the first shot.
It seemed easy enough. We had both watched the video and now we were prepared.
A few years earlier, Lois had given me shots. Only we used an actual syringe and loaded the medication ourselves. It was a subcutaneous shot just like the one I am receiving now. Lois would grab a pinch of skin, bury the needle head in a little and shoot me with the medication. I never really liked any of it but it seemed more effective.
This new auto-injector seemed pretty reliable. The step by step procedure didn’t seem very hard at all. You simply place the auto-injector onto the shot site at a 90-degree angle and pressed it down on the skin. There is an inner retractable chamber that engages when you push the injector against the skin and then you pressed a button at the top of the syringe with your thumb until it clicks. Once it clicks, you take your thumb off the injector while still holding the syringe tightly pressed against the skin and then you wait until you hear a second click. This tells you the medicine has been delivered and you can safely remove the auto-injector away from the skin and dispose of it.
You can definitely tell when everything is working all right. Mostly because the needle will sting and you will feel the cold liquid medicine as it enters beneath your skin. You will also start to count the seconds as you patiently wait for the second click, which will tell you that it is all over. And if you are like me you will automatically be prone to count the seconds, but the numbers coming out of your mouth will be unintelligible and will be in slow motion.
They will start out sounding like 1,000 one…1,000 two and will suddenly change to…Hurry…the…hell…up! But the words are garbled because you are holding your breath and mashing your teeth together. Finally you will hear the second click and you will start to relax. Oxygen will fill your lungs as you start to breathe again. You will take a shot count. Six down 50 to go.
Obviously some people will handle these shots much better than me. At least one hopes.
As I was saying, the design needs work. The very first time my wife and I were with the nurse preparing for my first injection, we had a problem. The medication would not deliver. My wife pressed down on the clicking button to discharge the medicine and nothing happened. She repeatedly tried and still nothing happened. The nurse finally came to the conclusion that we must have damaged the needle while taking off the cap. I remembered there was a part in the video that said to be very careful while removing the cap and not to twist and turn it trying to open it up. Okay. Chalk that up as lesson number one. Be very careful with the cap.
Fortunately the nurse had more medicine and we were able to start all over again. But first, the nurse brought out two practice auto-injectors for my wife to use and a dummy sponge that she was supposed to inject. My wife took the first syringe and removed the cap ever so carefully and then placed the injector on the sponge site and clicked the button. Click (medicine is injecting).
“I did it!” She exclaimed. Just then she raised the auto-injector and waved it around as it sprayed all over the nurses’ station.
“Dude, you’re spraying all over the place.” I hollered.
We were both laughing so hard we could just barely hear the nurse telling us, “That’s why you need to wait for the second click, before you remove the needle from the site.”
Lesson number two. Always wait for the second click. Make sure the medicine has finished delivering.
Well, last night as I removed the cap off the syringe I noticed that it really wasn’t that easy of a task (and did I just bump the cap along that inside wall?).
You have to pull the cap off of the auto-injector and try to keep it as straight as possible until it is completely out of the inner chamber. The cap sits inside the injector for at least a good inch or so and you cannot be bouncing it along the inner chamber as you pull it out. It really requires a system such as docking and undocking the space shuttle to the space station. Everything has to be perfectly aligned. When my wife was finally ready to give me my shot and I was done saying, “Wait, wait, wait…just give me one more second here…wait…okay go.” She finally shot me and nothing happened. My first reaction was sheer relief until I realized we were going to have to start all over again. My wife tried a couple of more times and then we decided that I should try it myself. Something I have never done before.
I reluctantly tried to give myself the shot and I found that after pressing the auto-injector up and down a couple of times against my skin I had probably loosened the retractable spring inside and it finally worked. I had suddenly frozen because I had never done this part before and I asked Lois what happened next.
“Am I supposed to let go of this button?”
“Yeah when you’re done,” she said.
“No! Between the 1st click and the 2nd click. Am I supposed to be holding down on this button?” I asked again.
“Oh no, you need to take your finger off the button if it's already clicked once!” Lois said.
I let go of the button and silently started my countdown…1,000 one…1,000 two...Hurry...the...hell...