I had my first iron infusion yesterday (Monday 5/20/13). Let me preface this by saying I am a HUGE weenie and I was dreading this big time! My husband came along with me to keep me at ease, and that helped a lot. It also helped that the ladies in the Outpatient Clinic were super nice!!
My appt was at 12:30 and I was told to call an hour before so they could order my iron IV from the pharmacy. I arrived about 15 minutes early, and after I checked in, they directed me to the room where I’d make myself comfortable for the next few hours. Yes, few hours. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours for each infusion! (Don’t panic – there was a sweet lady next to me who had been there for 6 hours that day…she had some kind of virus in her heart and now has to have an IV treatment five times…I don’t know what was in her IV, but bless her heart!)
As I walked into the room, they told me to pick a seat. The room was rounded – kind of like a horse shoe shape – and all along the perimeter were squishy recliners, side tables, the IV stand, and a little television. I selected one next to the lady I mentioned above. Within a few minutes one of the nurses began prepping my arm for the IV. Again, huge weenie, so I was not looking forward to this part!! She was a true professional, though, and within a few seconds had my port ready to go. I was doing fine, calm and everything, until I saw the bag of brown fluid that was about to be pumped into me! So I turned to my husband to hold my attention for a while 🙂
As soon as the drip started, I didn’t really feel anything. Then I felt the cold begin circulating throughout my body. It was an interesting feeling, to say the least. The nurse brought me a warmed blanket and asked if I wanted anything to drink. I brought my own water and some crackers on the advice of a friend, so I was set. About 20 minutes into the drip, the IV decided to be all shouty and loud. Apparently the drip wasn’t flowing as well as it should. The nurse propped my arm on a pillow and silenced the machine. They nurses also made their rounds, asking if any of the patients needed refreshments or bathroom breaks.
I never had any pain or total discomfort – just the coldness of the IV and a slight stinging where the IV was inserted. I didn’t notice any other stinging or burning anywhere else, so I figured that was good. I managed to start a new book and read a couple chapters into it before I realized the drip was almost empty! The last 30 minutes felt like an eternity – waiting for the bag to totally drain and then begin the observation period. Because I’d never had the iron IV before, they wanted to be sure I didn’t have any reactions. Some people are allergic to it – breaking out in hives, etc. This brand of iron – Venofer – seems to have the lowest occurrences of allergic reactions or side effects. I’ve read that people who cannot tolerate taking pills or multivitamins in general seem to have more side effects (headaches, stomach aches, diarrhea, nausea, etc) So far, I’ve had brownish colored urine, which is normal I hear and only happens the first couple times you use the restroom after the treatment.
I go back today (5/21) for my 2nd infusion, and then again on Thursday (5/23) for the final infusion. The nurses said it may take anywhere from 3-4 weeks before I notice any difference, but this is a much quicker process for raising the levels than relying on the oral supplements alone.
Today I am going to ask them to try the IV in my right arm since the left was a little sore yesterday…and hope they can find a good vein without too much prodding…my veins are so tricky and like to hide sometimes, even after drinking buckets of water!
I know there are a lot of stories like this on the interwebz, but I think it’s important to hear both the good and the bad so you kind of know what to expect…especially in cases like mine where the doctor hasn’t provided much in the way of information on the treatment, and just tells you that you need to do it!
I’ll be back later this week with the rest of my experience…which I hope will go as smoothly as the first!