Thursday, November 20, 2014

Liquid Lightening

Today a brief lesson about Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy or IVIG for short...

IVIG is a blood product created from the antibodies of approximately 10,000 healthy blood donors. Plasma is screened for diseases like Hepatitis, HIV, and many others. The effects of the treatment vary from person to person, and can last from a few weeks to a few months. IVIG is used to treat four major disease categories, they include primary immune deficiencies, acute infection, and autoimmune diseases such as Myasthenia Gravis.

Infusions are done in hospitals, infusion centers, or in the comfort of ones home. Where you are infused will depend on the type of medical insurance you have, and what they will or will not cover.
The amount of medication you receive is based on weight and medical condition. The time it takes to infuse is based on your doctors recommendations and your ability to tolerate the administration rate.  

I receive my infusions at home. My medication and supplies are prepared by a specialized pharmacy and delivered to my home prior to my scheduled infusions, they also arrange for the nurses who administer my treatment.

It's very important to be well hydrated, this helps to eliminate or reduce side effects. I start to increase my fluid intake the day before...On the day of infusion I pre-medicate myself with diphenhydramine and acetaminophen. They are used to prevent headaches and rashes, two of the biggest side effects. My nurse starts an IV line, then prepares the medication. A pump is used to deliver the IVIG at a controled rate. Your blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate are monitored frequently during the infusion. IVIG is started at a slow rate of infusion and increased to a comfortable level to reduce the chance of side effects. In my case the infusion lasts about 5 to 6 hours.

There are always complication and side effects to be aware of. They include blood clots, pulmonary edema, kidney disease, aseptic meningitis, and anaphylactic shock. Headache, fever, chills, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, and fatigue are the most common side effects. They can be reduced or eliminated by slowing down the infusion rate and increasing fluids.

For some the benefits of IVIG outweigh the risks associated with treatment. In my house we call IVIG "Liquid Lightening" because of the extra strength and energy I get from my treatments. It has helped with my limb weakness, blurred vision, and fatigue. I can rely on my family just a little less to help me do every day things. I enjoy being able to bake. cook, and indulge in my favorite hobbies, even if it's only for short periods. I still nap daily, use a cane for balance, or use a power chair if I need to go to more than one store during a shopping trip. But those are minor inconveniences. My life isn't what it was before Myasthenia Gravis, but I am not going to let it destroy my spirit...

To those who donate blood I want to say THANK YOU  your generosity is appreciated beyond measure, for that I am eternally grateful...

1 comment:

  1. Great to see you back blogging again Rachel. That is very interesting about your IVIG infusions and I think it is fantastic that you get this treatment at home where you are in your own environment and feel most comfortable. I hope it provides you with some relief from your symptoms.
    Rach xx


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