Life Without an IV


Before all of this coronavirus craziness started, I had an IV in my arm to get daily IV fluids at home. Over the last several years I’ve gone from using a small peripheral IV in my forearm to, more recently, using a midline IV — a long vein-dwelling catheter that ran from my elbow to my armpit.

I started with the peripheral IVs because I was much sicker then, and they were the only ones that my weakened body could handle. I had initially tried a PICC IV, which ran inside a vein from my arm to my heart. The thought alone of a little plastic tube resting a couple centimeters from my heart freaked me out. And then, when it was inserted in my arm, it became extremely painful throughout my chest and shoulder. So I took it out and tried the peripheral IVs, which were far less painful but only lasted a few days at a time. They were, as it seemed, a temporary solution to a long term problem. Eventually I tried a midline, which was similar to the PICC but didn’t make the turn through my armpit to my heart, and consequently was less painful. The other good thing about the midline was that I could leave it in for a couple months at a time.

Types of IV Fluids

The purpose of these plastic twigs in my arm was to get daily infusions of saline and vitamins. There are several types of IV fluids—I tried saline and Ringer’s lactate—but ultimately I stuck with the saline and vitamins.

Because I have Lyme disease and diabetes insipidus and deficient in a hormone called arginine vasopressin, it became difficult, sometimes even impossible, for me to hydrate through oral consumption of water and electrolytes, thus the need for IV fluids.

Then the pandemic hit and, because of my compromised immune system, I couldn’t risk getting the coronavirus from a nurse or doctor who would have to place the IVs in my arm. So, back in February, I stopped getting the IV fluids at home, and I’m happy to report that my health has, for the most part, remained steady.

On good days I’ve been well enough to put my feet on the ground a few times and try to stand up. Although this hasn’t been unprecedented in my recovery so far — there have been times in the last few years when I’ve been able to do this — it’s remarkable that I’m well enough to do it without getting IV fluids. This is partly because the IV fluids increase my blood pressure and volume, on top of hydrating my body.

No More IV Fluids At Home

It’s hard to say exactly why I’ve been able to sustain my recovery without IV fluids, mostly because, again, I don’t want to risk getting the coronavirus by having a nurse or phlebotomist do bloodwork to see what my vasopressin and cortisol levels are.

What I do know, however, is that I’ve been drinking lots of water and taking electrolyte supplements, which as I mentioned, hasn’t worked in the past but may be helping now. Or maybe my body has undergone a transformation in the last few years, partially healing the functional impairments that were keeping my body from adequately hydrating itself.

Whatever the reason is, I’m grateful that my health is stable without the IVs. I’m sure it would help if I could still do infusions, at least occasionally, but given the circumstances, things could be much worse.


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2. For those who haven’t heard, my memoir, WHEN FORCE MEETS FATE, is going to be published in January.

You can read samples chapters, add it on Goodreads, and preorder it through many online retailers, in both print and ebook. The audiobook will be available for preorder this fall. Here’s a list of places to order the book (by country):

US: Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, BooksAMillion, Book Depository (ships worldwide for free!), Indiebound, BookShop.

Canada: Amazon, Kobo (soon)

UK: Amazon

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Mexico: Amazon (Sorry, no Spanish translation yet)

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Brazil: Amazon

10 thoughts on “Life Without an IV”

      1. I have likened 2020 to a bad first date that never ends! I have every confidence that we’ll weather this and come out on the other side, but getting there is going to have some ugly bumps in the road.

        Gentle hugs to you.

  1. I share the fear of catching the virus from medical personnel, or a hospital, and am postponing everything possible. I’m glad you’re able to postpone getting more IVs – I’ve never had to deal with one for more than a couple of days, and they’re horrible.

    Hope it means you’re getting a bit better.

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