Infectious Diseases

Who would have thunk iron is such an important part of thriving? I finally had my iron infusion a few weeks ago. I was very nervous because my last experience wasn’t so pleasant.

Nervous.

That is a long story in itself, but basically, the nurse nor doctor warned me of the side effects, and tried to brush it off with, “I’ve never heard of anyone reacting to iron infusions before.” Granted, you could go your whole career without seeing something, but don’t make it sound impossible. And honestly, you hadn’t seen Epidermolysis Bullosa, either, but I am sitting right in front of you. It can certainly be shocking to witness something rare, but it is important, in the medical field especially, you are bound to see anything. Textbooks does not equal personal experience. Your profession as a nurse or doctor is to make your patient feel as comfortable as possible, and listen to their body.

But in the end, God showed me He would prevail. After recovering from that experience last year, I had a good year after the iron settled into my system. It has been over a year since dealing with that particular iron infusion center. After recent of events of skin infections and overall feeling like someone sucked 500 pints of blood from me everyday, my doctor could tell from my migraines and bodily pains I was most likely anemic, again. I have had other doctor checkup in-between (different doctor), but they did not see the dire need for me to have an infusion–as I had mentioned in my last post.

On the day of meeting my new Hematologist, the PICC team installed a midline in my arm, for a whole week. I have received this team before, and they are a blessing for my life, really. She has a wonderful way conversing with me, just as if she wasn’t ripping a hole in my arm while blood is going everywhere. We often talk about travels and nature. I greatly appreciate the distraction. After we were done, she rubbed my arm with a sterile towel, around the midline hole. Little did I know, the skin rubbed the clear off, again, right next to the midline’s entrance. She immediately panicked, and assured us she didn’t use anything sticky. I assured her it wasn’t her fault because it was inevitable. Realistically, I should have had a whole new midline put in somewhere else, free from breakdown, but it was a risk we all decided upon because my arms are limited.

After my Hematologist set up everything, Medicaid decided not to approve my iron infusion because they no longer contract with that hospital. Immediately, I was feeling a bit flustered because I have been dealing with recent struggles with receiving all my wound care needs (another story in itself). The nurse had to set up an iron infusion at another hospital, which I deal with on a regular basis, thankfully.

The next few days, my “stable” skin was becoming extremely red, and the midline site was getting red and puffed up. It was terrifying because it looked like 2010 again when I almost died from sepsis. My husband phoned the 24-hour home care nurse hotline at the hospital since they had been caring for my midline. She returned my call within 2 minutes, and told me she would probably need to pull my midline because it sounded like infection was heading for the worse. I was praying, but I was frustrated to tears and overwhelmed because that meant having to redo my midline, reschedule appointments for my infusions, and treat possible blood infection.

The nurse phoned me back about 45 minutes later because the on-call doctor was MIA, but they advised I needed to go to the ER immediately. There was no hesitation, and we headed off to the hospital. The ER nurse got me in immediately after realizing my signs were all septic except I had no fever, but intense chills. I had a small meltdown before the doctor came in to examine me. Many emotions were going through me. My first thought was my husband. On top of that, I was beyond fatigued with pain. My feet were red-hot and “tight” in feel and appearance, the pain was excruciating, but I wanted nothing to do with morphine, but kindly accepted Lortab. The doctor did his examination, ordering a skin culture, labs, blood culture, and Vancomycin (very strong antibiotics used against very deadly infections). I have a rare side effect with Vancomycin called red man syndrome. If it is administered too quickly, it literally feels like ants are eating me alive, followed by my skin turning different shades of the deepest reds with the fiery feel of molten rock sitting 2 inches from my face/neck.

Before the nurse could give me the Vancomycin through my midline over 4 hours, she had to give me Benadryl. I explained to her, I had to have a smaller dose of Benadryl because it gives me panic attacks. We decided to would be best to administer it through my midline to work instantly against possible allergic reactions. She put it in the midline fairly slow. Firstly, my arms tingled then it went straight to my brain: instantaneous high feeling = panic attack. I freaked out. It was like the waves of ocean waters rushing over me, and every level of fear rushing through your body, on top of your brain telling you cannot breath. My husband said, “Colors,” which is a brilliant method to help panic attacks. Counting 5 objects of the same color (thank you, to a dear friend, for this wonderful recommendation) to get the brain focused. After what felt like hours, I apologized to the nurse because I was embarrassed, very embarrassed.

She said, “Don’t apologize. I should have pushed it a lot slower. To think, people often love that feeling after I give them Benadryl.”

“Not me,” I cried.

The nurse hooked up my little bag of Vancomycin around 2am. Within 10 minutes, my skin’s inflammation was already subsiding, and my heart rate went from 130 BPM to 85 BPM. The doctor came in to tell me my blood results, and he said miraculously no infection in my blood, but definitely the start of cellulitis of my skin. I was so relieved. I still had to stay in the ER until my bag was complete, and we needed to get some sleep. My nurse checked in on me every 45 minutes to make sure we were as comfortable as possible. I have to say, I am beyond blessed to come across people who care. God comforted me through those people. I also read verses that morning in the ER on comfort because I could not sleep.

weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

I fell right to sleep.

6am came around, the doctor decided to discharge me, and gave me proper instructions to follow-up with my primary physician for further medication. As God promised, I was rejoicing that morning. Even in the midst of the tears and pain, only such Love could make me smile through it all.

To be continued… (the actual iron infusion process)

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