Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mixed Blessings

In the past, when I have been on IV steroids, the Solumedrol came in this self contained, pre-mixed pump.

I had my port put in and then each day I just flushed it, hooked up my little ball and when it was finished, flushed it again.

Easy peasy.

On Wednesday, when Dr. H. ordered the IV for me, his secretary asked if I would be interested in trying this new company. They were trying to build business in our area and they were very nice. So I said sure.

Big mistake.

The next morning the new place called to say everything was set up and the pharmacist would call me in a little while to go over the order and arrange the nurse’s visit to start my IV.

The pharmacist calls and asks me the usual, allergies, other meds, etc., and then says my medicine and supplies will be delivered by 3 pm with everything I needed to mix the Solumedrol.


So I say to her “Mix? I usually get a pre-mixed ball pump.” “Well we don’t use that, you will mix the medicine and hang it.”

Hang it?

I could put the ball in my pocket and walk around with it, not be tethered to an IV pole. But that is exactly what I ended up being.

The nurse came that evening. She ended up sticking me FOUR times before we had a patent port. Each of the others infiltrated. This had never happened before. She was so, so nice, but it was frustrating to be stuck so many times.

Then she showed me how to mix and hang the medicine. It was a million ridiculous steps. Especially for someone with weak, numb hands!

1) Pop the Solumedrol bottle to mix/reconstitute it.
2) Let it sit for the powder to dissolve.
3) After it is dissolved, draw it up into a syringe and inject it into the bag of Saline.
4) Attach the tubing and prime it by allowing the medicine to go all the way to the end, so I don’t end up with 10 cc’s of air preceding my infusion.

5) Clamp everything until I am ready to attach it.
6) Flush my port with Saline.
7) Attach the IV tubing.
8) Set the tubing control to 125.
9) Open the clamps
10) Sit in one place next to the pole for an hour ( because if I move the pole around, the infusion stops running).
11) When it is over, clamp everything again.
12) Detach the tubing.
13) Flush my port with Saline, then Heparin.
14) Clamp my port.
15) The end.

What year is this?!?!

Then, when I went to administer my second infusion, I find my port was leaking. I called the nurse and she said try to tighten the connection. The connection that was under a ton of tape and a piece of Tegaderm (a small sheet of protective plastic). Try to tighten it with one hand.

Guess what? Oh, you are so smart!! It didn’t work. The IV wouldn’t infuse and I had to pull the port. Which meant I was going to need another one inserted.

Oy vey.

The same very, very nice nurse came back. We picked a lovely, plump vein in my right hand. In went the needle. In didn’t go the little tube that would deliver the medicine. She kept trying, very gently, but I knew just by looking at it, it wasn’t going to work and I was going to have to get stuck AGAIN. After about five minutes she apologized and gave up.

Stick number SIX took.

Because this has turned into such a freaking ordeal, I developed a nurturing routine for myself. I might as well enjoy myself instead of getting totally pissed off.

So my set up is as follows:

My favorite scented candle.

My nightstand with the phone, books, pictures of
my beloved children and my beloved grandmother,
along with flowers from someone I love very much.

And a lovely high calorie drink. Because I deserve it.

There’s a lot of love on my nightstand.

My bed where I will relax and put my feet up
with tons of pillows, my knitting, my laptop
and, of course, Bella.

On the plus side, within one day my legs felt as strong as if I were normal. My back pain has disappeared. My other symptoms, which I guarantee you would rather not hear about, are diminishing.

On the down side, the first night I couldn’t get to sleep until 2 am. And then I woke up at 2:45 am. And could NOT get back to sleep. Forty five minutes of sleep in 48 hours. Woo hoo.

This is yet another MS adventure. What can I say?


janet said...

this is identical to the procedure that i have done 5 times.......labor intensive to say the least, and hard as hell to do with ONE hand..

Good luck my friend, I'm thinking of you. But they did let me keep all the leftover goodies, lol, i have lots of plastic gloves that i can now blow up and float around the house for entertainment, lol

Marie said...

Oh my goodness Janet, what a pain!!! You had to do this each time?! Clearly I am spoiled.

And what ON EARTH am I going to do with an IV pole?!?!

DK said...

Oy vey indeed. Bleh! Sorry!!

catatonickid said...

Oh, goodness gracious that's a trial. Glad you've found such cool ways to make it as pleasant as possible, though.

Sometimes the nurses being that nice about it all makes me feel worse - or it has done in the past in hospital.

My veins never cooperate so it's really not their fault. I mean, of course it never is but it's that I had a bit of a giggle when you said you know one stick just wasn't going to work well before the nurse twigged. It's hard to act like a good pin cushion for them when it gets to that stage ;)