Infusion Therapy Survival Guide

Posted on 4/3/2013 by Cindy Cavoto
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Having a chronic illness can require infusion therapy. Dealing with it can be difficult, but once you accept it, the results can be rewarding.

There are many people who need infusion therapy for chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, severe psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, lupus and a host of other autoimmune diseases.  While the benefits can be helpful in keeping a disease under control,  infusion therapy can be a royal pain in the backside. So from someone who had been through it for RA, I offer a bit of a survival guide.

Give up control. That was the hardest part for me. For the first few infusions, I brought a friend to drive me and keep me company until I knew how I would react to the medication. I'm not even 40 and I felt like I was in Driving Miss Daisy! 

Hydrate!! The nurses couldn't stress that one enough. Good hydration before your treatment makes it easier for the nurses to find a good vein. I have tough veins to start with so anything that made it easier was a godsend. Hydration also minimized the after effects, in my case feeling headachy and nauseous, something akin to a mild hangover but without the fun of the night before.

Eat small meals. It's important to eat to keep your strength up even when you don't feel your best. Follow a simple diet with healthy, bland foods for a few days following treatment is you aren't feeling hungry.

Fight boredom. Bring a book or a laptop or something else to kill the time. You'll be sitting in that chair for awhile and time drags if you're just flipping channels looking for something on television. 

Schedule well.  Knowing you have regular treatments, plan your schedule to allow yourself some recovery time following treatment if you need it. I liked to go on Friday mornings so that by Sunday, I was feeling better.  Everyone reacts differently depending on their body and the medication. Learn to listen to your body and figure out what works for you.

Inform your family and friends. Let people know when you have treatment days.  You may feel punked out the day of or for several days after treatment. You may also feel a little rundown as you are approach the time that you're due for treatment. Support systems are vital!

Track your symptoms. Many infusion drugs lose their efficacy over time as your body build a tolerance to them. Keep track of how you feel between treatment and if you find that what used to keep symptoms under control for 6 weeks is now only working for 4 weeks, you need to speak with your doctor. 

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