Friday, February 10, 2012

Iron Infusion IV Therapy: My Story

I write this simply because I had no idea what to expect when I went in to have my Iron Infusion IV Therapy. I tried to research it on the net, but didn't find any helpful info beforehand.

The day before the first procedure, I managed to ask the nurse what to expect and was told to plan on about an hour or more and that eating breakfast was okay. That was it. I guess it's a fairly "routine" kind of a procedure, but how was I to know until I experienced it for myself?

I know I'm a bit behind the curve on some of these things because I've never had an IV before in my life! Like I said before, I hadn't even been to a doctor in 5 years (I don't count the dentist or eye doctor). When I had my wisdom teeth out 9 years ago, I got some sort of happy gas that put me out. I was awake for my eye surgery two years ago. Other than a few x-rays, a broken ring finger, routine physicals, and trips to the doctor as a kid, I haven't had too many personal medical experiences.

So, here's my IV experience.

I entered the American Fork Hospital on Friday, February 3rd at 8:00 am. I made sure to wake up with enough time to eat breakfast because I dislike being hungry for any extended period of time. Luckily, this is a small hospital and the The IV Therapy wing was directly off the main entrance, so I didn't have any trouble finding it.

When I "phoned in," they unlocked the door and sat me in a small room with a smooth blue chair. The nurse asked me some questions and did some routine paperwork, because it was my first time, and then proceeded to poke me with a needle, twice! Ouch.

As you can see in the picture below, the first vein she tried didn't "thread," so she moved to a spot lower on my arm and told me I was too young to have veins like that (whatever that meant?! gee, thanks!) I felt like saying something snarky about her age but I didn't.

But in all seriousness, a little pinch (or two in my case) and then the needle was "threaded." At this point, she hooked me up to a 100 mg drip of some sort of reddish brown iron saline solution. The nurse offered me a drink and a blanket. I asked for water and declined the blanket.

Drip, drip, drip, while I planned my shopping list for our Super Bowl menu (see previous post), and checked Facebook and Twitter updates a little too eagerly.

The IV didn't really hurt, though it was mildly uncomfortable, so it was a relief when after about 45 minutes or so (the time seemed to go fast), the drip was finished and the beeper went off.

Unfortunately, due to a new policy, the nurses hold you captive in the room for "observation" for 30 minutes after the procedure. Everyone seemed annoyed by this policy, but since it was my first time and the policy had been clearly explained to me beforehand, I wasn't too annoyed. That's when I pulled out some paperwork I had brought with me from my classes at UVU which helped me to get to know my students a little better.

Anyhow, after the "observation" was complete, I clicked my heels and excitedly skipped out of the hospital with a "new lease on life" armed with extra iron as I reentered the normalnohospital errandrunninggrocery world. On the drive, I started to wonder what if the solution I was given wasn't iron and was actually Adamantium. Would I be able to grow bone claws like Wolverine? Those could sure come in handy.... Ha. Ha. Ha!

But in actuality, I did feel slightly different almost immediately. It felt kind of like my blood vessels were dilated, or that the blood in my body was "full." I could feel it mostly in my head. I didn't develop a headache, nor did I have nausea, which I was grateful for. But during the entire day afterwards, I just felt internally opened up, if that makes sense. I imagine my body was going through something akin to how a thirsty plant reacts when it receives a healthy dose of fresh water. The roots soak it right up and distribute it to the rest of the plants cells! My blood soaked that iron right up and immediately began regenerating and circulating!

I didn't however, have an immediate energy boost (maybe a temporary thisisadifferentfeelinghigh), but that was to be expected because building up an energy supply certainly takes time!

All the while, I have also been supplementing my supply of iron by ingesting it in various liquid, pill, and food forms. Controlled, mind you.

Funny story alert: The day I told Hylan about my blood work, he dropped off a medicinal 5 Guys burger for lunch. We joked about how I need to eat more meat like him and he needs to eat more vegetables like me. Silly us.

One thing I have noticed during this past week is that when I exercise, the characteristic reddish flush has returned. This must certainly be due to plumper red blood cells and better oxygen flow! I can't believe that as much as I exercise and sweat, somewhere along the way, I lost that blush. In fact, the week before I had my initial blood work done--when I almost passed out teaching a strength class (okay, that happened more than once)--I saw this deathly pale look in the mirror. Sheesh, for someone who teaches about being "in tune" with one's body, how did I go so long not recognizing these signs? I suppose I brushed it off as normal--I've always looked like Casper the Friendly Ghost, especially during the winter!

Another thing I have started to notice is that I don't crave ice chewing anymore. I'm not sure why, but it used to be so soothing for me. I believe the medical term for this kind of craving is called "Pica." Even though I've known for a long time that this is a sign of iron deficiency anemia, I seemed to brush it off as normal because I've loved chewing ice for a long time! But seriously, lately, chewing a big cup of half melted ice seems cold, jagged, and quite frankly weird. Weirdo!

So, back to the therapy. I went in for "round 2" on Friday, February 10th at 8:00 am. This time, the dosage was increased to 200 mg. I had a different nurse this time as well. This lady stuck me in my hand and told me I looked too young to teach classes at BYU and UVU. She said she would have guessed 18 or 19. (Wait, didn't I verify my birthdate with you a few moments ago? I guess she didn't process the number with my face.) I responded with a casual, "I get that a lot. I'm 29."

But internally, even though I am so used to this rhetoric, it still irritates me a little. The way I see it is that I've earned the fine lines around my eyes and the ones forming on my forehead, at the brow, and around my mouth. I've also earned those years of schooling, work, and life experience that you don't see when you look at a teenager, but I guess there are worse things in life than being thought of as young!

So, let's see, I'm turning 30 this year, but I look 18 or approximately 10-12 years, I will catch up with my age! I guess I shouldn't complain about that. :)

Wow, that's like the seventy second tangent of this post!

This dosage took longer to drip in, about an hour. Good thing I was armed with stuff to do like planning a stability ball Pilates class, reading a Sunday School lesson, and also again too eagerly checking status updates on my phone. My hand felt pinched during the drip, but felt even more sore after the IV came out.

Overall, the feeling was similar to the prior week, though I didn't feel as iron parched and quenched as before, but that was probably because I knew what to expect this time around. I probably still have lower iron, but it is most definitely no longer in the scary single digits, to be sure.

Hopefully, my energy will increase more in the upcoming weeks because I'm anxious to feel what it's like to not feel tired or drained most of the day. That sure would be swell.

Be well!


Heather H said...

Thank you for posting this. I am going for my first infusion on Sunday and scared. This experience helps

Heather H said...

Thank you for posting this. I am going for my first infusion on Sunday and scared. This experience helps

Veedot said...

Thank You! I really needed to read this. I legit laughed out loud at the Ice chewing. Since my initial iron treatment my ice addiction has significantly subsided. It's been a part of my life for over 10yrs. I cannot wait to be able to enjoy life with energy again. Thank You!

Live said...

Thank you for your narrative. I am going in soon and had no idea what to expect, your story has brought me and envy, I sincerely cannot wait to feel energized and back to my old self.

Karen D. said...

I'm going to get my first infusion this Friday, Friday the 13th! I am looking forward to it though, i'm tired of feeling tired.

Karen D. said...

I have my infusion therapy scheduled for this Friday, Friday the 13th! i don't feel unlucky though, I'm actually looking forward to it. I'm tired of feeling tired.

Windy said...

Sure do appreciate this! Going for first infusion tomorrow!

Diamondz63 said...

Thank you! I'm not as anxious now. I go for my infusion tomorrow .

shewee44 said...

Thanks so much!! I go tomorrow morning for my first infusion.I am not as nervous since I read your blog.You even made me laugh a little.I can't wait to see how I feel afterwards.

Unknown said...

Thank you for posting your blog. I go for my first therapy in the morning. I'm to know a PICC isn't used in all cases. Thanks again. I'm not nervous anymore. I absolutely hate the unknown.