What is Clexane?
Clexane is an injectable form of heparin – an anticoagulant prescribed to people with antiphospholipid syndrome, Hughes Syndrome, clotting issues. It prevents clots and thins the blood slightly, helping to prevent some forms of miscarriage.
If you are prescribed Clexane, you will need to inject it just under the skin (subcutaneously). There are a number of things that can help you do this with minimal trouble or discomfort.
What you will need
A ‘sharps’ box for the used injections.
Preparation for the injection
- Choose a spot to inject. The thigh or the stomach are recommended, but I’d suggest injecting into the skin of your stomach. Although it seems a little gruesome injecting yourself in the stomach when you’re pregnant, it does hurt a lot less than the thigh. If you are injecting in the stomach, around (but not too close to) the belly-button is a good spot.
- Clean the area with water & cottonwool. Most people would recommend surgical spirits beforehand, but this is actually not a good idea. The alcohol strips the needle of the coating that helps it slide easily through the skin. If you use water to clean the area (or inject after a shower), the needle will hurt less, and cause less bruising to the skin. Surgical spirits also sometimes causes the skin to harden slightly, or get a rash.
Injecting the Clexane
- Hold the injection like a dart, between your forefinger and your thumb.
- With the other hand, pull some skin up (the manufacturers suggest pinching skin between your fingers, but I find that if you have fat on your belly, it’s harder to pinch the skin than it is to just pull some up – choose whichever works best for you).
- With the dart-hold, insert the needle into the skin. Note – some areas are more sensitive than others. If you find the injection extremely painful, it’s sometimes easier on you to just choose another spot (don’t forget to clean it first).
- Now you can change the hold position to the ‘standard’ injection hold (that makes it easier to push the plunger down). Before you start pushing the liquid into yourself, pull the plunger very lightly, checking for blood. If you see blood, you have accidentally nicked a vein, you will need to readjust the needle so that you’re out of the vein. This doesn’t happen often, and you will survive (expect a big bruise!). If you’re concerned, check in with the doctor or hospital staff.
- Inject the Clexane, pushing down slowly on the plunger. The speed doesn’t really matter, but I find that injecting fast hurts more sometimes. Inject until the air bubble goes to the needle. I’ve read that the air helps prevent bruising by pushing the Clexane deeper under the skin, but to be honest, I haven’t found any difference. I am a bit freaked out by the air, to be honest.
- Remove the needle carefully, replace the lid of the needle firmly (make sure it is straight so that the needle doesn’t penetrate the plastic and stab you), and then push the plunger down some more – this triggers a safety mechanism that spring-loads a plastic needle protection after use.
- Take the empty injections to the nearest pharmacy/drugstore/hospital so that they can dispose of them safely.
Tips for Injecting Clexane
- DO NOT USE ICE to numb the skin. The cold makes the skin tighter, which makes it harder to inject. Also, you can give yourself freezer burn.
- If you have the old style of injection (it is yellow, not white), you can warm the liquid up slightly by holding the injection in your armpit or thighs.
- If your skin is ‘resisting’ or feels tough so the needle is not easy to push through, breathe slowly and visualize some soft butter, with a warm knife sliding through it. I do this, saying to myself ‘warm knife through butter’, and I swear by it.
- There’s a bubble of air in your injection. This is meant to be like that. It is used to push all the Clexane out of the needles, and apparently to reduce bruising.
- If you think happy thoughts while you’re injecting, the injection will hurt less. (It distracts your brain from the anticipation of pain).
Make sure to tell your doctor before using Clexane if you have, (or ever had) any of the following medical conditions:
- major blood disorders
- any types of stroke
- stomach or bowel problems such as ulcers or ulcerative colitis
- bacterial infections in your heart
Alert your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms (they may be signs of allergy)
- swelling of the face, lips or tongue,
- wheezing or troubled breathing,
- skin rash, itching hives, blisters or peeling skin.
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