Like most of you, I take medication for my multiple sclerosis. Copaxone is my medication of choice, though I have recently switched to the generic version, glatiramer acetate. I’ve taken shots every day for years, so I was thrilled when the dosage dropped to three days a week. Fewer injections, fewer ouchies, fewer adverse reactions, fewer needles to deal with when I travel.
A decent amount of scar tissue has developed in my “shot spots.” The area with the most damage also happens to be my favorite place to get shots. My abdomen is easy to reach — the contortions required to access my hips and the backs of my arms are laughable, and occasionally involve cramping — and hurts the least.
At least, that was the case until a few weeks ago.
I was sitting on my bed with a baseball game on TV and my shot paraphernalia on a sterile towel across my knees. I automatically loaded the injector while the ice pack did its thing. Swipe the alcohol wipe, pop the red tip off the gizmo, push the needle in, and pow.
There was the usual sting, but a few seconds later, my entire abdomen turned bright red and started itching like crazy. I assumed I had hit a blood vessel and would have a monster bruise for a couple of weeks. But a few days later, the pain was still bad, to the point where I had to keep ice packs on the injection site. At one point, it felt like I was being stabbed repeatedly with a needle.
I knew I needed to see a doctor when the tissue changed color. Quick care couldn’t treat it, but the doctor on call gave a very satisfying hiss and said, “Girl, you really did a number on yourself, didn’t you?” The urgent care doctor gave me antibiotics and told me to see a dermatologist for “necrosis.”
I’ve been to the dermatologist twice since then, with another visit or two to go. The official diagnosis is “superficial ulceration.” There’s some information in Encyclopedia Britannica about ulcerations, but I’ll give you the nitty-gritty here. (Don’t worry — there aren’t any icky photos.)
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, an ulcer “is a lesion or sore on the skin or mucous membrane resulting from the gradual disintegration of surface epithelial tissue. An ulcer may be superficial, or it may extend into the deeper layer of the skin or other underlying tissue. An ulcer has a depressed floor or crater surrounded by sharply defined edges that are sometimes elevated above the level of the adjoining surface. The main symptom of an ulcer is pain.”
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