Monday, January 5, 2015

Some Tips for Your First Iron Infusion

I've been sharing my infusion stories now for a few years.  I've gotten quite a few messages mostly from women nervous about getting their first infusion. 

I get it.  I remember being a bit nervous and having no idea what to expect.  You can read about my first iron infusion experience here:  Intravenous Iron Infusion and Me

Since my first infusion just over three years ago, I've had a number of rounds.  I'd like to pass along a few tips to hopefully make the experience a bit easier for you.

  1. Drink plenty of water beforehand.  I've found it is much easier for them to get the IV in when you are hydrated.  
  2. Find a chair close to the restroom.  Yes, this goes back to tip #1.  You can wheel the IV into the restroom and I find it is just easier to be somewhere in the vicinity.
  3. Bring a pillow.  You can bring your own blanket but often, if you ask, they'll bring you a blanket.  If you are having Benadryl, it is just easier to nap with a pillow.
  4. Dress in layers.  Even if it is quite warm outside, they keep those rooms chilly to help keep down the spread of germs and illness.  Even on warm days, I'll bring in a sweatshirt.  
  5. Bring snacks and water.  I've had infusions that have lasted for up to four hours.  Having a little something to eat helps.
  6. Bring something do to.  Yes, you may end up napping the entire time but, other times, I've found having my notebook computer or a book helps pass the time.
  7. I don't know if this is just me but I find that once they take the IV out and bandage my hand, the longer I leave that bandage on, the less likely I am to bruise.  I usually leave it on an hour.  Maybe it has been a fluke that the times I've taken it off quickly, I've had bruising but I figure it doesn't hurt to keep it in place.
 Have you had an infusion?  Would you like to add any tips?   I'd love to hear from you.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Three Years of Iron Infusions!

Just over three years ago, I had my first iron infusion. 

Backing up a little.  I had ended up in the Emergency Room.  My heart had been acting up and, that night, something just felt off so my husband decided to take me to the hospital.

I told them I was pretty anemic.  I've struggled with Iron Deficiency Anemia since having my daughter.  They did some bloodwork, came back and said, "You're anemic."  Yep, I knew that.  I was told to see a hematologist and so I made an appointment.

So glad I did.  For years, doctors had been trying different iron supplements out on me.  We'd played with my diet.  Things would work for a little while but then I'd be anemic again.  My hemoglobin went down to four more than once.  That's mighty low and I've talked to women who've had transfusions at those levels. 

I had a doctor who had suggested seeing a hematologist but then I moved across the country and my new doctors wanted to start from square one.  Had I known then what I know now, I just would have scheduled an appointment with the hematologist from the get go.  I think I just thought they'd tell me I was anemic and we'd be right back where I was.

How wrong I was.  I saw the hematologist and she discussed infusions with me.  Had my blood tested and they wanted to get me right in. 

I've shared that story here:

Intravenous Iron Infusion and Me

Three years later, I couldn't even tell you how many rounds of infusions I've had.  They know me at the Cancer Center.  I'd like to find a solution to all of this and remain hopeful that we will.  In the meantime, I'm starting this blog.

Through sharing my stories online, I've come to realize that many other women (and men) get iron infusions and they just want to know they are not alone.  Many people go searching for iron infusion experiences before they begin the process.  I hope my posts help.  I know that if you are going through this as well, I'd love to hear from you.