Before the Infusion
1. Stay Hydrated
On the days leading up to your infusion and the day of, it is really important to stay hydrated. I try to make sure that I drink at least half of my body weight (in pounds), in ounces of water each day. On the day of the infusion, it is especially important to stay hydrated before, during, and after the infusion. I personally like to stay hydrated with water and some form of electrolyte drink. If I am low on time I will drink Gatorade, but otherwise I like to make my own electrolyte drink.
2. Plan Ahead
In order for me to be able to relax on my infusion day I try to do a bit of extra work the day before so that I clear my schedule the day of my infusion. If at all possible try to make sure that you have nothing to do on the day of your infusion, or plan your infusions later in the day so you can still do a half or full day of work before your infusion.
3. Ask for help
Depending on how you feel post-infusion, you may need to ask for help form others. Try to be honest and open with your friends, family, employers, or teachers about how you are feeling and if you will need to take extra time off after your infusion.
I would always recommend someone drives you to your first appointment for your infusion because you may be very tired after. Additionally, you may want to meal prep some food for a day or so after your infusion to make sure that you are eating good food to fuel your body post-infusion.
The Day of the Infusion
4. Make Yourself Comfy
I would always recommend you wear comfy clothing to your infusion. Bring whatever you need to the infusion center to make yourself comfortable. I have seen people bring slippers, blankets, pillows, and sleeping masks to their appointments. So, honestly if the item makes you feel comfortable, BRING IT.
Depending on the length of your infusion (most are at least 1 or more hours), you may want to bring something to watch or listen to. Bring your laptop and put on your favorite Netflix show or listen to a podcast to pass the time.
I personally will bring some work to get done during my infusion, but I don’t put any pressure on myself to get it done. I bring it for if I have the energy, if not, I respect my body and just rest.
5. Ask for a Heating Pack
For many it can be hard to find a good vein. This may be because of your chronic illness, because you are dehydrated, or because you have tiny veins. Whatever the case may be, don’t be afraid to ask your infusion nurse for a heating pack to warm up you arm before your infusion. This will help to stimulate blood flow, and make it easier to find a vein on the first try.
6. Speak Up
If you know that you have picky veins be clear with the nurse about this when you go in for your infusion. If you know that certain spots on your arms/hands usually work, tell your nurse about it.
It is also important that you tell the nurse when you need a break. The infusion nursing standards of practice states that each nurse is limited to two unsuccessful IV attempts. But, this does not mean that you should continue to let 4 or 5 nurses pick at your arm. After about 4 unsuccessful attempts (not 4 nurses), both the patient and the nurses become unconfident. So, take a break, get a heating pack, and try again after.
Make sure that you are being vocal about your body and what works for you.
After the Infusion
7. Eat Good Food
Just like hydration, it is also important to fuel your body with good food after and before your infusion. Make sure that you have healthy snacks prepped for during your infusion and a good meal ready for when you go home. Your body needs all the nourishment it can get to recover, so make sure that you fuel it well.
Make as little plans as possible for after your infusion. Some people may feel fine after infusions but it is always good to have little to no plans after your infusion in case you have any side effects. Relax and try not to push yourself too much after your infusion.
I hope that these tips help you out for your next infusion. Just try to remember, that although these infusions may seem annoying and terrible, you are lucky to have access to such amazing medication and treatment.
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