Portal Instruments Joni Kazantzis: One Woman’s Experience With Psoriasis Injections

Diagnosis

No one at age 15 wants to hear the words, “You have psoriasis.” As a 15-year-old girl who was dealing with daily psoriasis symptoms, I was embarrassed and self-conscious all the time. It was lacrosse season when I was diagnosed. But I didn’t stop playing, because lacrosse was pretty essential to my identity at the time, and I had a lot of support from my family, friends, and teammates. I wore sleeves and pants, and even though it was warm and uncomfortable, I was willing to endure the feeling to hide the spots across my body. Sometimes I would stress more about my skin than playing the game. I didn’t let psoriasis stop me from doing the things I wanted, but it did affect how I felt, how I acted, and what I wore. It was always the first thing on my mind.

Finding treatment

The number of available options for treating psoriasis is wildly overwhelming. Some are messy, some can be painful, others are time-consuming, and a lot of them are expensive. When my doctor first introduced the idea of going on a biologic medical product, I was excited. My flare was miserable, and I knew a biologic could greatly improve my quality of life. I did have apprehensions about giving myself the injections at home, however. I was scared I wouldn’t have the nerve to jab myself with the needle and inflict that pain on myself. The only alternative seemingly was taking the time-consuming route to go into my physician’s office every two weeks and have the biologic administered by a nurse. High co-pays aside, the time requirement of that was enough to get me injecting myself at home instead.  But I remember wishing for a more convenient way to get the medicine I needed. Historically, I have had great success with biologic treatments and prefer them as my main source of treatment for my psoriasis. But I plead guilty to putting off injections on occasion. The process is tedious and emotionally draining. I need to be in the right mindset to do the actual injection. Because of this, prepping for my shot has become a family affair.

A Built in Support System

I have two young daughters that have become my psoriasis sidekicks. They are professionals at helping me put lotion on the hard-to-reach spots of my back and assisting me when it’s time to take my shot. They count down for me to inject the medication. Sometimes, we have a few countdowns where I disguise my nerves as counting practice. Injecting myself is like jumping off the diving board at a pool. When my daughters are there counting down, I feel as if I would be letting them down if I decided to “chicken out.”When it’s over, there’s dancing and shouting and a princess Band-Aid (though I’d prefer a superhero Band-Aid). It’s an overdramatic scene, but my daughters know I’m nervous to take the shot, so they encourage and celebrate it. I know it’s only a small poke that doesn’t hurt terribly, but there is a large mental hurdle that takes time and practice to overcome. I dread injection time, but I repeatedly remind myself the positive results outweigh the angst of the shot process.

 

Portal Instruments recently reached out to me to share the development of their needle-free injector.  It’s not available yet, but certainly, a needle-free option would change the way I live my life. No more self-pep-talks. No more countdowns. No more procrastination. No more princess Band-Aids. While the treatment options can be overwhelming at first, it’s encouraging and exciting that more great options continue to be developed.

Joni Kazantzis, Writer, Just a Girl with Spots, justagirlwithspots@gmail.com
March 17, 2021