Before all of this coronavirus craziness started, I had an IV in my arm. 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.
The purpose of these plastic twigs in my arm was to get daily infusions of saline and vitamins. Because I have been 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 IVs and infusions, 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.
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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