I can still remember the very first day that I ever injected Copaxone, the disease-modifying medication prescribed to treat my relapsing-remitting MS.
It was 1998. A nurse educator made a home visit, to oversee my initial injection. At that time, Copaxone came in a powdered tablet; it needed to be mixed with sterile water, to be reconstituted, prior to injection.
Today’s version of Copaxone is much easier to use; patients simply inject a pre-filled syringe. Thankfully, I didn’t have a fear of needles. I first practiced giving my injection on an orange. Then, I warmed my injection site, my upper arm. Doing so is necessary to lessen the chance of an injection site reaction. Tears slowly rolled down my cheek as the subcutaneous needle went in my arm. I didn’t cry due to discomfort, but because the full impact of what I just done hit me very hard.
For the foreseeable future, I would daily inject Copaxone. I would do so as an attempt to reduce my overall number of MS relapses. Consequently, I would be taking an active role in preventing the overall progression of my disease. Actually, it was a very long, meandering road that led me to completing this initial MS injection.
On July 29, 1993, I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS. (Yes, it was a monumental date, impossible to not remember). In 1995, I was informed by a Manhattan neurologist that my MS had been misdiagnosed. How could I ever be so fortunate, to have dodged that bullet, I thought!
In February 1998, a serious MS exacerbation removed all doubt about whether or not I had MS. I went completely blind in my right eye, lost all feeling below the waist, and could not walk. I most definitely did have this chronic neurological disorder.
Consequently, my neurologist stressed how critically important it was for me to start disease-modifying medication, as soon as possible. Given my history of depression, the only two other MS-modifying medications available at that time (Avonex and Betaseron) were not viable treatment options. Therefore, Copaxone was chosen.
Prior to 1993, no one with MS had access to any form of disease-modifying medications. There were only medications available to treat individual MS symptoms, such as spasticity, urinary urgency, and visual disturbances. If one had to develop MS, one was certainly blessed to have developed it at this chronological point.