Throughout the pandemic, like many, I have felt pure exhaustion —- to the point where even holding my head up on some days required more effort than I could manage. I was a bit hard on myself about it. I chalked up the tiredness of being a mom and doing too much. I was too chubby, out of shape, wasn’t eating right, didn’t get enough sleep, all of that jazz. While all of that may be true, what I didn’t know was that my body was working against me.
Finally, on a very cold day where it felt like my blood was actually icicles, I called my doctor and said I needed blood work done because something was not right. Luckily, I have a responsive doctor, one who I have been seeing since I was 13 years old, so when I call and complain, he knows I’m usually waiting until the very last minute. I had to get blood work done it showed that my iron was insanely low. The nurse joked I had to be a vampire, and I giggled a little because I was as pale as one. The course of action — IV iron infusions.
The process of the infusions isn’t difficult at all — depending on your approval of your insurance, you will receive two or five doses of an IV iron medicine that increase your iron levels and help solve a lot of health issues. obviously, needles are involved as it is an IV, so if you are a bit squeamish, just know once the IV is in, no more needles.
My process of having the infusions done was difficult, but I was a rare case as opposed to others. I have terrible, deep, thin veins, so getting an IV into my vein itself is a challenge. On my first dose, I did well, felt great, and had the typical tiredness and a bit of a belly ache when I got home, besides that, I felt fine. The second time it took two sticks to get the IV, and the machine kept breaking so what should have taken an hour for the IV to drip, actually took 2.5 hours. I was a bit peeved, but also incredibly humbled because I was the least sick person there. IV infusions are often given in the same space as chemotherapy, and I was fortunate enough to encounter two women on my second visit who were finishing up their rounds of chemo. They had bags packed, as they were there most of the day. The TV was on to their favorite talk show, and they chatted about everything: their children, and grandchildren, why Rachel Ray has gained weight, their favorite tea, and snacks, and also, how blessed they were to be alive. I left my second session in tears because I felt so ashamed for being upset that it took two hours to do my session, when they were giving up so much, and were so sick. Their resilience and strength were felt and demonstrated to all that encountered them.
My third and fourth doses were a bit of a dozy. Infusion three took four sticks before they could get me, and because they had stuck me so frequently, I had bruises all over my arms. The fourth infusion made me sick, and they had to stop halfway through for a little bit because I was queasy. None of that was as bad as my fifth infusion. Over being someone’s pincushion and also happy it was my last session I went in with a positive attitude and ready to get this done. The medicine, well it had a different plan. Three sticks before they could get the IV in and then once in, and a quarter of the way through the process, the IV infiltrated. What does that mean? It means my vein was blown, broken, and the fluid from the IV drip was leaking into my muscle and skin. The fluid can build up and move to different places in your body, and it built up in my left side and caused terrible pain in my arm. They pulled the IV, stuck me two more times before the IV would go in, and continued to go. I cried. I silently cried hard because the infiltration hurt so bad, my arms were sore from being poked and pricked for a week so many times, and anxious because every infusion took longer and longer, which meant shifting and moving my work schedule.
It’s been a few months now, and I barely remember the pain of the infusions or all the difficulty I have had. My energy level went back up, I’m not freezing, and finally have a decent iron count that is helping my body process and function at a much better level. Were the infusions difficult? Painful? Pain in the ass? Yes to all, but in the long run, it helped me and my body so much. The lethargy I had from such a low iron count left me angry, and ashamed because I could not be the person I wanted to be. My body was fighting itself to work, and now I feel as though I am a well-oiled machine ( and far less pale).
If you suffer from anemia or another blood disorder and IV iron infusions are ordered, say yes. Yes, you can have some difficulty with them, but for most people, it is an easy-breezy process where the positive far outweighs the negative. So go one, go out there and become Iron(Wo)Man