This is the first post in the HG & IVs series. If you found this on accident, super! Follow the links to move to the next post in the series, or head back to the intro post if you want to know what to expect in this set of posts. If you are looking for the HG Treatment Series about subcutaneous Zofran or Reglan pumps go here for the intro post to that.
The IV series feels like a lot less than the pump series was, so I keep wondering what massive part I forgot. In truth, IV treatment doesn't have quite as many unknown parts to it that I think the pumps did, at least for me. Here though we will briefly talk about some of the random stuff that popped up while I was on IV treatment at some point. Please keep in mind, if you are here because you googled something to troubleshoot your own IV that I am in no way an authority on this and you should speak with an actual medical professional on it.
So, like I said this is random and I will update it a bit if I think of something else, but here we go. Tips, tricks, problems, and whatever else I can think of!
The fluid bags themselves: I never discussed what was in my IV bags because this is highly individual. For the most part, I gather that people get one or a combination of the following:
1. Saline -- salt and water
2. Lactated Ringers -- salt water and sugar
3. Banana bag -- the above plus minerals (it actually is bright yellow)
4. TPN -- Total Parenteral Nutrition, which will be specific to you
What you get is dependent on what you need and what your doctor orders. It may change too. Some people also may get other supplements (like iron for example, but I have heard that stings going in) or medications via IV.
Pillows: My husband jokes he will need his own bed soon because I am a bit of a pillow collector. The IVs made this worse, because I find that if I make a little throne for my arm I am much less likely to bump or injure my IV in my sleep. I also seem to just keep it in a better spot this way so it flows better when I am having a rough IV that wants to clot off or die. I use the hot pink pillow you may have spotted in some of my pictures, it is a small one that can rest in my lap, on the arm of my recliner, or on my tummy/side when I am all propped up in bed on my other pillows. As my tummy grows this may need adjusting, but for now that soft pillow makes my arm ache a lot less!
Showers: Ugh. Just ugh. It is hard to shower once an IV is in because they cannot get wet. I usually try to wash my hair and shower before my nurse gets here so I can at least enjoy one last shower before I am plugged in. Once they are in, it is a little easier to bathe or sponge bathe while washing my hair in the sink one handed. Because my IVs die fast I usually get a decent shower every three days with the awkward cleaning in between, which works though may not seem ideal.
Clothing: If you like to have multiple wardrobe changes a day you may get a little annoyed with how cumbersome they become here. You cannot change shirts with an IV plugged in unless you are in a hospital type gown with snaps in the sleeve. Honestly there are times I have thought to myself that a night gown I could step into and snap at my neck and sleeves would be great because sometimes with HG you ... well things can get messy and you don't have to be Lady Gaga to require a wardrobe change. Be picky about what you get dressed in so as to minimize the work and energy you have to expend getting dressed if nothing else. I have found that my IV site aches and is less effective if cold, so I try to dress accordingly and keep it covered when it is chilly.
Flushing: I was told to flush my IV before and after anytime I expected to be off it for more than a couple seconds. So that quick clothing change is no biggie, but when I have to drop Meatball off at school or go to the doctor I need to flush. Do not, I repeat do NOT, force a flush. If you screw the flush syringe on and push the plunger and are met with resistance make sure you aren't clamped (sounds simple but I have done that a million times) but do not try to push harder. I have, and it was awful. Hurt a lot and the IV was dead anyway.
Blood in the line: Don't freak out. You will, but try not to. I have had blood back up into my line on a couple occasions. Usually it is a sign that the pressure in my vein is greater than the gravity fed pressure coming down the line. In other words a couple possibilities are likely: 1. My bag of fluids is too low and needs changed; 2. My bag of fluids is down too low and needs to be higher up (like on the pole, I was holding it once and blood backed up). In either case it is easy to fix and a flush will 95% of the time push the blood back where it belongs.
Infiltration: This fancy phrase means that the IV fluids are no longer traveling down the happy highway of your vein and have started to seep out into the surrounding tissue. Like hikers who foolishly wader from the path, this is a problem. I would notice tenderness and eventually look swollen when this happened. IV is dead and needs removed.
IV site leaking: Oh that was a fun one. I think the nurse called it backflow. Basically, my vein clotted off but no one told the IV line. Usually infiltration happens with me, but twice I had a little infiltration and then I happened to notice fluid under all that tegaderm. I have a picture here, in black and white.
See how wet it is? It actually looks pretty good there. That means that the saline was actually dripping out of the little hole where the catheter went in me. Messy and sore, meant my IV was certainly no good anymore.
I cannot think of anything else to share here so I am going to call this a wrap and I will come back later if there are comments or anything else that makes me want to add more info here. IVs have literally been a life saver for both me and baby Pinkie Pie, so while I find them obnoxious and uncomfortable the majority of the time, I really cannot complain about them.
None of this is designed to be medical advice that should replace the expertise of a doctor. I am merely sharing my experiences and knowledge, not advising you. I only call myself a "rocket surgeon," I have never been to medical school of any kind and would recommend you get checked by a real professional in the event you have any actual questions. That said, if you would like me to clarify some part of my experience for you, please feel free to ask in the comments!