Iron, Iron Baby

Stop! Collaborate and listen. Okay, I’m sorry. I’ll stop with that.

Yesterday was my iron infusion, as I briefly discussed last week. The first time I had an iron infusion (many, many moons ago), the woman who sat down next to me asked what I was in for. When I replied that I was getting iron, she was like, “oh me, too! I read on the Internet that it feels like hot lead getting pumped into your body.”

What the what? So, in an attempt to clear that misconception up, I decided I’d blog about it. You’re welcome.

I was tireder than I thought coming home from Michigan, so I had a hard time waking up Monday morning. I knew that I’d need to take my breakfast and lunch with me and that I’d want to be comfortable, so my goals for what I did Monday morning were simple: walk Taffy, shower, pack lunch, eat breakfast, go to the transfusion center. All was going well until I couldn’t for the life of my find my cell phone. I spent about 25 minutes looking for it, then I had to leave without it (I found it that afternoon made up into my bed).

Because of the cell phone losing, I didn’t have time to stop and get coffee, and I was running a little late to my appointment. I’m one of those people who is compulsively five minutes early to things, so this stressed me out. They actually noticed that my blood pressure was higher than normal when I first got there, and I attribute that to my nerves about being late.

My appointment time was 8:30, and I was in my assigned chair by 8:35 AM. Very efficient. The day started with a vital signs check, my IV being placed, and a warm welcome from the nurses. (The nurses were all so nice and unsurprisingly, very good at placing an IV. I don’t even have a bruise today!) It had been a while since my last infusion, so I first had a test dose (I think it was 25 mg) and I was observed for an hour to make sure I wasn’t having a visible reaction. I did not, which was good because I didn’t ask about the consequences of that visible reaction.

After the test dose, they flush your IV line, give you a dose of Benadryl, and then start the infusion. Mine went at about 175mg an hour, and I was there for 4 hours of direct infusion.

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 9.51.06 AM

I had brought my laptop, hoping that I’d be able to work and not lose a day, but that wasn’t the case. The nurse last week told me that there was great wifi, and he was exaggerating. I was able to send out one text (via iMessage and seen above) yesterday, I couldn’t check my email, I couldn’t do anything. Luckily, I have Kindle for Mac on my computer, so I was able to read. I finished Hard Choices and I started The Silkworm. Not a horrible way to spend a Monday morning, but I wish that I had been able to work.

The infusion itself isn’t bad. The iron is mixed from a refrigerated stash, so I normally get cold when its happening. They had blankets and pillows available, and I just used my one hand to read. I dozed some (thanks, Benadryl), and I ate my lunch. At around 2, the nurse came over, told me I was done, and I was disconnected from my port after another line flush and “just in case” dose of Benadry.

I respond really strongly to medication, and so the two doses of Benadryl really knocked me for a loop yesterday. I probably shouldn’t have driven myself home, but I didn’t have a way to get in touch with anyone (phone still in bed), so I did. I walked Taffy, attempted to check my work email, and then passed out for 2.5 hours. What a day.

I did get asked if I’d feel better immediately, and unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

While I do now have iron, my body is really struggling to accept it. For some people, that means hives and itching (the reason for the Benadryl); for me, it means a low-grade fever and a few days of mild GI distress. Awesome. I’m working from home today, but I’m hoping to be back in the office tomorrow.

Final note: my hematologist is part of a hematology and oncology group, meaning that those of us who are getting IV iron are doing it alongside people who are getting IV chemo or radiation. I’m not going to go into huge detail except to say that it was sobering, and it definitely put things into perspective for me. I may not feel awesome, but it could be way worse.

From now on, I’ll continue with my normal regimen of Flintstone’s vitamins and eating iron-rich foods, and I’ll be hoping that my iron levels stay robust. I think I get checked again in September, so expect a lot of dark, leafy greens between now and then.

Word to your mother.

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