IV Me Time

When I first began IV treatment for rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD), I felt a mix of emotions. I was hopeful that Orencia infusions would be more effective in managing my symptoms than Humira had proved to be. I was concerned about the severity of disease activity that merited intravenous treatment. I felt dread of the prospect of rolling veins and multiple needle sticks.

Finally, I was exasperated at the need to go into the clinic for a monthly treatment. RA/RD already led me to miss work due to appointments and flares, and an additional appointment every four weeks would increase my time away from work.

Keeping up with work during Orencia infusions

I was working in an environment where there was low trust in employees and a constant requirement to account for one’s time. Even though my productivity level and quality of work were high, I was absent more than most of my colleagues, and my supervisor held this against me during evaluation.

Therefore, leaving work to go to the infusion center, get hooked up to the machine, and wait for the medicine to drip into my vein was a stressful experience. To compensate for the absences, I spent my time in the IV chair feverishly doing as much work as I could on my smartphone using my needle-free hand.

Orencia infusions vs. injections

Fortunately, intravenous Orencia proved to be a helpful tool in managing my symptoms. Yet, due to the stress of leaving work for the treatments, I asked my rheumatologist if I could try some other medication administered at home. He suggested I try the injectable version of Orencia, and I eagerly agreed.

Prioritizing my health and quality of life

Unfortunately, it did not reduce my symptoms as much as the intravenous form of the drug. Around the time that I was restarting IV treatment, I realized that the multiple stressors of my job were deteriorating my health. I decided to take a less stressful job (and a pay cut) in order to prioritize my health and quality of life.

Making space for gratitude during my infusions

With a new perspective of my priorities, I took a different approach to my visits to the infusion center. Rather than view my IV treatment as an inconvenient, uncomfortable experience to busily work through, I shifted to seeing it as something to be grateful for and even to enjoy. This medication lowers the pain and inflammation in my body, enabling me to play more with my kids, miss work less often, and participate in more activities.

Recognizing this, as well as the privilege of having access to the infusion center and health insurance that covers it, I began regarding my treatment with gratitude. Rather than work feverishly with one hand, I started spending my time in the IV chair in more relaxing ways.

Taking time for myself

Viewing IV time as “me time,” I now bring a novel to my appointments. Putting my phone away in my purse, I opt to savor this quiet time away from work and my kids to get immersed in a book.

Getting to know the clinic staff better

No longer staring intently at my phone, I’ve also gotten to know the clinic staff better. While I always spoke with them while they were actively tending to me, now that I don’t pick up my phone the second the IV drip starts, our conversations often continue as they clean up and perform other tasks. I now look forward to my appointments, knowing I’ll get to connect with characters in my book and people in the clinic. When I return to work, rather than feel frenzied and stressed, I feel refreshed from my mental break.

Shifting my view on my infusions appointments

I wish that I didn’t need IV treatment. I also wish the costs associated with this drug and the health insurance I need to receive it weren’t so high that they dictate life decisions. However, these are things beyond my control. What I do have power to influence is how I view my circumstances. Shifting how I view my IV appointments, seeing them as “me time,” has injected a monthly dose of relaxation into my schedule.

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