Friday, April 24, 2009

The Infusion Center

I know this sounds odd, but I think I'm going to miss the infusion center after I get my last iron treatment next week.

In some ways, coming here (I'm hooked up to an IV with Venofer as I type) reminds me a little bit of what I enjoyed about going to work in an office. I come in, and everyone recognizes me and knows my name. They greet me and kid around with me as I get settled into a recliner and get vitals taken and hooked up to the bags of liquid dripping into my veins.

Then I spend an hour or so on my laptop doing my own thing. I occasionally exchange a quip with someone, sometimes chat a little with the person in the chair next to me, but mostly do my own thing.

When it's time to leave, everyone says goodbye to me, wishes me a good evening and asks when I'm back in next.

It's a very friendly place to be, and I'm convinced that the nicest nurses and medical assistants work in these oncology departments.


I'm feeling very optimistic about these iron treatments after chatting yesterday with the woman in the next chair, who was getting the same treatment. She has some sort of genetic problem that affects her ability to absorb iron from food or oral supplements. (Her mother and aunt have the same problem and have gotten treatments all their lives.)

The woman, whose name I didn't catch, said it usually takes her about a month for the iron treatment to kick in. Then, she said, it's not the lightning burst of energy I was sort of hoping for, but it's a noticeable improvement of everything from attention span to muscle weakness/strength to shortness of breath.

She said the treatments last longer than they did before chemo for cancer put her into menopause. She now gets them about once a year, and previously received them two to three times a year. She cautioned me about letting my ferritin levels get too low; in her youth, she sometimes was in denial and would procrastinate getting them until her ferritin levels were zero and she became anemic. She told me that now that they know I don't absorb iron properly, I should ask to be tested whenever my energy levels start sinking and ask for infusions when my ferritin hits 30 or below.

I'm kind of excited at the thought that maybe some of these symptoms that I thought were caused by my apparent autoimmune disease might really be caused by my iron deficiency. While it's time consuming to commit to five 2-hour treatments, it's still a fairly easy fix if it helps me significantly.

Time will tell.

The reason it takes 3-4 weeks for the treatment to kick in is because it needs to get into my bone marrow, and my bone marrow has to start churning out red blood cells with more iron in them. At least, that's my layman's understanding of what's going on.

Here's hoping that my June is looking way better than my March and April have been. :)


Carla said...

I very much understand where you are coming from in saying you will miss the infusion centre. When I was first sick, the only time I got out and about and had conversations with adults (Apart from my husband!) was during visits to my doctor and cardiologist.

I am really hoping you have a wonderful June, or even May if things kick in quicker!

(PS, I found your blog when I was looking for other Mum's with chronic illness. I'm from NZ and have twins boys 3.5years :) )

kev said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kev said...

hi everybody
where r u from ?
your blog is very nice
check my photoblog too

Aviva said...

Hi Carla!

Thanks -- I appreciate the empathy about the infusion center! And I'm glad you found my blog (and therefore I found yours in turn!). We chronically ill moms definitely have to stick together!

Wow -- NZ! My husband and I have long fantasized about visiting NZ and Aus ... someday! :)