Tis Thursday yet again! Has anyone else noticed that the weeks just keep flying by faster and faster? No doubt that my perception of the fleeting time is due to the fact that I’m teaching three classes at Bridgewater this semester, Taylor has been on a business traveling spree (which is thankfully due to end next week), and I now have to devote about 10 hours of each week to at-home IVIG infusions.
So, I’ve been talking about these IVIG (short for intravenous immunoglobulin) infusions for the past few weeks, but haven’t felt as if I’ve given them their proper introductions. Since NAIT, the condition that is affecting this pregnancy (and my pregnancy with Clara, unbeknownst to us), causes my body to form antibodies that cross through the placenta and attack my unborn baby’s platelets, I need to undergo IVIG therapy to reduce the probability of the baby suffering from a low platelet count (or thrombocytopenia). So, on Monday and Friday afternoons, my nurse, Jules, comes to our house and administers the IVIG. The whole process takes anywhere from five to five and a half hours from start to finish. Why does it take so long? Well, because your body can only tolerate so much immunoglobulin at once, the infusion begins at a very slow rate, which continues to incrementally increase over the duration of the treatment.
The treatments are painless (except for the very end when Jules has to remove the tape holding in the IV — that really is the worst part) and have seamlessly incorporated themselves into our busy lives. I would have to say that this easy transition should definitely be credited to the IVIG company, IGG America, that set me up with my home care. They really have been superb. Every week they send me my two bags of IVIG — which I promptly toss in the refrigerator — and all of the supplies that I need for the infusions (needles, pump, bandages, my premedications, a handy bag that enables me to carry around the bag and pump, etc.). So, at 12:30 on the dot on Mondays and Fridays, Jules pulls up to my house, gets her supplies ready, gives me my pre-meds and starts the IV. Then, we plop down at my kitchen table and ready ourselves for about four and half hours of chit-chat and body temperature and blood pressure monitoring. In order to ensure that my body is tolerating the IVIG well, Jules needs to take my temperature and blood pressure on a regular basis throughout the infusion.
Before this whole process started, my two biggest concerns with the home infusions were that they were going to be ultra time-consuming (six hours or more) and cause a major disruption to our home life. Thankfully, I was able to schedule the infusions for the days that I teach, so that my sister can care for Clara while I get my treatments. Surprisingly enough, I am able to do quite a bit with a needle stuck in my arm for up to five hours at a time, but I can’t lift Clara up or chase after her like I can on my IV-free days. To date, I’ve spent a lot of my infusion time getting to know Jules, prepping for class, grading and catching up on my web surfing. Last Friday night, I was even able to prepare dinner while being infused (thanks to the little red and black bag seen to the right). Jules has reassured me that I can really do anything (with the exception of gardening — I don’t who would be possessed to play in the dirt with an IV in their arm…) during my infusions, and as it turns out, she’s been right so far. I’m hoping to get back into some daring baking once the semester is over. It really would be daring to bake while carrying around a small pump and bag of fluid, wouldn’t it? :0)
So, there you have it: A brief orientation to an at-home IVIG infusion. I’m having my fourth home infusion tomorrow morning and have already reached my water quota for the day. Thankfully, this process is only going to last until late-February, when I deliver our little girl. But to be completely honest, I actually look forward to my treatments every week. To me, it really is a small sacrifice that I’m making to ensure that my new daughter will have the opportunity to make a smooth entrance into this world…
Up next week: A closer look at the NAIT study that the data being gathered from my pregnancy will contribute to.
Having a burning question about NAIT or IVIG? Feel free to post it in the comments. I’m more than happy to answer any and all questions about my pregnancy and its unique characteristics. :0)