Getting Used to Lovenox

Patient Expert

I've grown a new appreciation for people who have to give themselves shots on a daily basis. Yes, I mean shots with needles. Many of those people include diabetics who have to inject insulin into their bodies. In fact, one of my nurses told me that her husband gives himself three insulin shots to the stomach every day.

The reason I feel for these people now is because I'm one of them. But instead of insulin, I have to inject Lovenox into my stomach twice a day.

Lovenox is an anticoagulant or blood thinner. That means it prevents the formation of blood clots. Being a stroke survivor, my doctor wants to keep me on an anticoagulant to prevent another stroke. I'm not fond of the needles, but I chose this therapy over my Coumadin earlier this month. Coumadin is also an anticoagulant; only it's taken in a pill form by mouth.

I chose to stop Coumadin because I want to get pregnant and studies have shown, while rare, Coumadin could cause brain disorders and deformities to fetuses. Lovenox, on the other hand, is in the FDA pregnancy category B. This means that it is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. This news was better new to me considering the risk of a deformed baby while on Coumadin.

Now, I'm wondering why I signed up for this. The shots are a lot harder to handle than I thought. However, with each week, the shot gets easier. But major baby steps here. My nurse gave the first shot to me. I flinched and actually held her back twice before allowing the needle into my belly. Afterward, I thought, that wasn't so bad.

Until that night, when I had to do it again, only this time, to myself.

I sat there for the longest time staring at the needle, then at my stomach. I place the needle on my stomach, and then quickly took it away. If it weren't for my son, I wouldn't have done it. He screamed "Do it for your baby" He made me laugh and I was relaxed enough to get through it. So I thought.

I actually put the needle in and froze. My son noticed my pause, and then quickly pushed the medication in and took out the needle. I was so shocked at his bravery. What 13-year-old should have to give his mom a shot? But he hugged me and said he didn't mind. In fact, I still don't like to push the medicine in. My husband and son trade off and help me. I push the needle into my belly, and then they push in the medication. It's really a group effort and I love my family so much for supporting me through this.

After several weeks into this, I do think I could do it on my own. But as long as I have willing helpers, I'm going to milk it as long as possible. As far as the shot itself, it doesn't really hurt. It hurts more after the injection. The injection site is a little sore, but only for a couple of minutes. I've learned that putting some pressure on the injection site helps and prevents bruising.

The process itself takes less than a minute. You can't inject the medication into a muscle or into a vein. Lovenox must be injected under the skin, into the fat of the stomach. My syringes are prefilled, which is easier in my opinion. It's faster and you don't have to measure out the medication. It's suggested that you lie or sit down before receiving an injection. I actually prefer to stand. I don't know why.

When preparing for the shot, you have to lift a fold of the skin and insert the needle completely into the fold. Continue to pinch the skin until the injection is complete. To lessen bruising, do not rub the area after injecting the medication. I learned this the hard way. The first week I rubbed it and had a horrible bruise that took weeks to go away.

While the shots aren't quite as horrible as I thought, they aren't exactly the highlight of my day either. I will more than likely go back on Coumadin after my baby is born. But, until I get pregnant, the countdown to Coumadin is on hold.