Self injecting - what are the risks - Pernicious Anaemi...

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Self injecting - what are the risks


Ok I'm finally having a serious think about self injecting but not going to lie the thought terrifies me a little. My husband initially said he would do it for me but now he is worried about accidentally killing me lol!

So now I would like to know what is the worst that can happen? I have read through quite a lot of posts on here about advice for how to si so I've seen about hitting a nerve - is this harmless but hurts a bit or can you actually cause damage if you hit a nerve. Also does it matter if there is air in the syringe? Can you hit a vein? Anything else that can go wrong?

I realise these are probably daft questions! Also is it possible for a jab to 'not take' I ask as the reason I'm thinking about si is that I had a jab 4 weeks ago and feel horrendous, I haven't felt this bad since my jabs were moved to 8 weekly I still get a symptoms creeping back before my jab is due but not this bad and I still have 4 more weeks until my next one it feels like I didn't have one at all this month. I asked my gp if there was any chance of a one off jab sooner to make me feel well again but she wouldn't even listen to the symptoms just said they can't stray from the treatment regime.

25 Replies

Yes that’s why we need to get that “treatment regime “ altered . Everyone is different and will need different lengths of time between injections . No need to be afraid of Self-injecting . Yes I was TERRIFIED the first time .Look at some videos on Utube some are good , some are terrible . Apparently you don’t have to worry about air in the syringe ,but I always expel it before I inject . I use my thighs for S.I. —the outer middle third .of it , where the muscle is nearest the outside.Use a 1” x 25 gauge for injection and a longer thicker needle to extract the B12 from the ampoule .Use a 2ml syringe for a 1 ml ampoule . Just want to reassure you that it will soon become second nature to you . No need to worry - in haste .......

Clare184 in reply to wedgewood

Thanks wedgewood think it was the you tube video that put my husband off seeing everything all laid out at the start 😂

My GP practice nurse recently trained my husband and I in self injecting B12. We were recommended to use the deltoid muscle in the upper arm and that one is easier if someone does it for you, although the nurse did day that SI in that location is also fine as well. My husband has been doing all my injections and that works well for us.

I asked her about what can go wrong too :) She advised the standard protocol of expelling the air and getting a tiny bead of the B12 solution to the tip of the needle but she also said that it wouldnt be a problem if some air did get injected. Apparently any blood vessels in that area are too small for it to be a problem. The same is true for accidently hitting a blood vessel - they are too small in that area to cause any significant bleeding, and it doesn't matter if the B12 ends up in a blood vessel rather than the muscle.

She basically said that its difficult to envisage anything causing a significant issue injecting in that area and its fairly foolproof! She didnt mention any risks about hitting a nerve either. My neurologist did mention the risk of hitting the sciatic nerve if doing injections in the buttocks however.

That is so reassuring thank you, I'll show this to my husband later and see how he feels but if he's not up for it I think I'm more likely to be able to do it myself having read that

I agree with Wedgewood. Excellent advice. I don’t have a set regime, just go by symptoms. I recently did a SI when on holiday as feeling extra tired and didn’t want to hold people back. It was like part of daily hygiene routine. Nobody was any the wiser and so the holiday was more enjoyable. I was terrified at first, but now don’t even give it a thought other than to mark it on calendar/diary ;)

Everything theverytiredperson says.

Next time you have a piece of ham (real ham, not the cheap reconstituted stuff) examine it closely. You will find it very difficult to find any blood vessels. Your own muscles are very like a pig's.

Sometimes the injection site will bleed a little. That's because you've gone through a blood vessel in your skin. Not at all harmful.

The only real danger is if you get an infection, so try to avoid touching the needles themselves.

Clare184 in reply to fbirder

That makes perfect sense with the comparison to ham, thanks fbirder I knew I could rely on everyone here to reassure me

A lot of articles really push so many things to be careful about because they have to cover the possibilities. It leads to a hypersensitivity when you're thinking about self-injecting, or even after you inject.

After the first shot I went over every point with a pharmacist. She was dumbfounded about a few of the points (knowledgeable, but absolutely dumbfounded!) and thoroughly explained how all others were not much of a threat at all. Chances slim to none for many. And some were not a huge deal if they happened anyway, despite following instructions - air in needle, small prick of blood.

I am most careful about keeping injection site and top of vial clean/disinfected. And like fbirder said, I make sure to avoid touching the needle.

All the best.

Clare184 in reply to Litatamon

I'm glad that I've been having injections from the nurse for a couple of years now so at least I don't have to worry about having a bad reaction

Litatamon in reply to Clare184

So true Clare. I might be switching type of b12 soon and even then I will get my first shot change with a professional, before I self-inject.

I have a friend who wants me to inject her with b12. I told her no way would I consider that until a medical professional has given her at least a few shots first to see how she reacts to it.

I realize that an emergency reaction is beyond rare. But I have zero interest in finding that rare person or rare reaction!

Others have done a good job of answering your question about self injecting. I thought I'd mention my experience about a shot seeming to be not effective. I think I've had a similar experience.

In my situation it was because I both respond really well to injections, but need them more frequently than my doctor at the time was willing to prescribe. I was on one injection of cyano a month. The day after an injection I would feel like I had a lot of energy and could accomplish anything. This inevitably lead to me overdoing things, and the shot would seem to wear off more quickly. By the next shot I would feel worse than I did before the previous shot. Then the next shot wouldn't seem to give me as much of a boost, or it would feel as if I didn't get a shot at all.

For me the answer was a combination of more frequent injections and pacing myself so as not to overdo it right after getting the injection.

How did you get more frequent injections if your dr was not willing? I am having the same problem. Did you find another doctor who was more knowledgeable or just buy the medicine without a prescriptions. Pills do not work for me as I don't absorb nutrients well due to ulcerative colitis. Thanks.

I did both actually. I live within driving distance of Canada, which sells injectable B12 without a prescription. So I drove to Canada and bought some. I eventually found a good naturopath locally who was willing to prescribe B12 at the frequency I need.

Thanks. Maybe I can order the shots online from a Canadian pharmacy. Wondering what symptoms you had and how quickly they got better? I am having problems with walking and balancing, and it hasn't improved with the monthly shots. Looked on Amazon and found 5,000 mcg of methylcobalamin under my tongue; only been a few days but I think I'm noticing a little more strength. My symptoms, however, are relatively severe.

Am trying to find another dr too ofcourse.

Thanks for all of the really helpful replies everyone I have just been brave and placed an order, I've just ordered 10 ampoules so will see how we get on when they arrive - feeling a very strange mixture of excitement and fear 😂

I remember my first one, had not had one done via GP so was first ever.

I did it no problem but had obviously worked myself up...came over faint & dizzy, thought I was having a reaction...realised eventually I wasn’t and haven’t looked back since!

Have a practice using water in a syringe and meat to feel what it is like going through the process.

We've done 12 at home so far and no problems. Find shoulder easier than thigh. My husband does it. Main thing is to go slow. We bought an ampoule snapper too.

Don't worry about self injecting. I did it for the first time last week after watching someone on UTube do it. I copied it to the letter, no problem. I was very nervous, but no problem. I was desperate for my B12. As I had missed my appointment for it due to being ill.

Do it, you won't look back. Good luck.

While originally I was as daunted as you, I've done over 1500 jabs now and they have become so common place I have a job to remember whether I've done it or not!

Tell your husband that as he obviously cares, he can't be any worse than many of the nurses who don't!

I taught my husband, and if he can do it anyone can can. Sometime his aim is a hit or miss, but it goes in 'somewhere'. It is a sore jab who ever does it. I am a nurse and I don't worry about hubby's technique, it's certainly safe enough standards, he does the job hahaha. Best of luck, lets us know how it goes xx

Hi, I have been self-injecting since April but also get my monthly shots from the gp. I was already on a B12 Facebook group and they had some good videos. I SI in my thigh; I had my husband standing by me the first couple of times for encouragement - he was really good. It hasn't become second nature yet as I do everything slowly. It doesn't hurt at all if done slowly but it does take time, luckily I am retired. Also, I try not to look as I push the needle in the thigh, but I usually sing a song instead - distraction technique! Once in there, then I look to slowly push in the B12 liquid. I use an ampoule snapper for the vial, I got a good deal on eBay, buy one, get one free. I wipe both the ampoule snapper and the top of the vial with an antiseptic wipe. I don't wipe my leg as I always inject straight after a shower. I warm the vial under my arm while I am laying out all the things I need. Also (not sure if necessary) if my legs start to feel cold before I have got around to the injection I get a warm (clean) flannel and lay it on my leg before I inject - dry off after that. I find the best place is the bedroom as I have a pull-out tray by the bed where I can lay everything out and I sit on the bed with my thighs over the edge, not resting on the bed. Main thing, try and relax.

I have a lovely nurse at the surgery and the last time I went I really did manage to relax my arm (I always hang it by my side (one nurse told me to do that) and it hardly hurt at all. Good luck.

Being on my own, injecting into arm wasn't feasible so I started off injecting into the side of my thigh.

However, I didn't really like that so I have since injected into my abdomen, subcutaneously, using a finer, shorter needle.

So much easier for me, can see what I'm doing better and no difference re the effect of the injection ;)

briarhillcat in reply to JMN2017

Well done

Hi Clare184. This is a great forum as we are all in the same boat. It is worrying giving yourself an injection, and a friend of mine said "Practice on an orange" and I remember my cousin having to do that (he was a mental health nurse) and he did that before he had to inject his mum.

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