A few times a month I travel to McMaster Hospital for an IVIG treatment. IVIG stands for intravenous immunoglobulin, which is a blood product they administer intravenously.
What’s in it? It’s basically plasma protein given to patients who have poor antibody production (an auto immune deficiency).
Since I have Plexopathy, which is an auto immune disease, I must go to the hospital every few weeks to have the IVIG administered. Since my blood doesn’t produce an adequate amount of white blood cells, I am susceptible to many illnesses, and if one is contracted, I could become very ill and even possibly die.
The IVIG consists of a bunch of people’s plasma protein mixed together. Its function is to boost my own immunity and/or attack any abnormal or harmful cells. It is transmitted directly into my blood stream via IV, and a typical treatment can take around 4 hours.
Translation: it’s really painful, tedious and boring!
The treatment takes place in the Medical Daycare Unit. It is a room filled with over sized La-Z-Boy recliners that are there for the patient’s comfort during their treatments (and comfortable they are indeed!). They also have portable DVD players and movies if you get too bored (although I have yet to request one).
Most people end up sleeping through the treatment, but I can’t. I have tried though, trust me. I just can not get comfortable enough in a medical environment. Flashbacks, I suppose. Also, they check your blood pressure every 30-45 minutes, so if you were fortunate enough to fall asleep, that would definitely hinder the sleeping process!
Although I know these treatments are beneficial – I hate them! It’s such an ordeal to get out of my house and travel to the city in the first place – and at 7 in the morning too! And when I arrive, it’s a huge hassle to find a decent enough vein that can handle the treatment! I often end up with huge, painful bruises on both arms because of the failed IV attempts.
I know I have made my IVIG treatments sound like they are an absolute joy to have, but the above is a cake walk compared to the side effects. Headaches, nausea, upset stomach, intense cold sweats, sleeplessness are just to name a few that can last anywhere from a couple of days to a full week.
I am aware that my health will get worse before it will get better, and that however horrible I feel from the treatments, they will eventually help me feel and get better. I have to keep that thought in my head or else I would have quit receiving treatments long ago!
Last Monday I had my 7th IVIG treatment and I do already see a light at the end of the tunnel – however long the tunnel may be… Thanks for reading. Diane.