By Dawn DeBois
When I transitioned from monthly intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) treatments to weekly subcutaneous IG (SCIG) treatments, I referred to them as “Sunday SubQ.” I actually added a day I’d have to physically do a treatment because my monthly IVIG treatments were broken down into three long six- to seven-hour days of infusions, and in most month, there are four weeks. However, since I no longer have multiple days of recovering from side effects from IVIG, and I no longer lose days because of lost energy before my infusions, I’ve gained about a dozen days each month. Because of this, I celebrate my one day a week that I set aside a couple of hours for my infusion to keep my rare autoimmune disease in check.
I start preparing for SubQ Sunday on Saturday by making sure to hydrate. Even though there’s no IV access needed, subcutaneous absorption works best when well-hydrated. I make sure to drink lots of water and add a hydration packet to at least one water the day before. I also abstain from any alcohol the night before because alcohol dehydrates the body. As much as it pains me, I also watch my caffeine intake, and I make sure to not allow that extra cup of joe beyond the one cup of coffee I allow myself since caffeine is also a dehydrator.
The morning of SubQ Sunday, I finish chores that I didn’t complete on Saturday. The last thing I want is to be irritated by things being left undone while infusing on the couch. I then do all I can to make my environment cozy and comfortable. Treatment time is all about me and my body. Once treatment starts, I don’t want there to be any chores, pets or family needs to pull me away. It will be my body’s time to recharge.
Just before lunch, I shower to make sure my injection sites are as clean as possible, have lunch and take Rocky, my pug, out for a quick pit stop before infusion time. I have greatly increased my comfy pajama count since starting self-infusing IG at home. Loose PJs are a must because easy access to my belly and thigh area to insert needles and check on them is necessary. Incidentally, I’ve also increased the number of times I walk my pug in my PJs on early Sunday afternoons.
I’m quite sure Rocky knows I’m going to be busy for the next couple of hours when I roll out the plastic storage cart to the living room. It has three drawers with all I need for my infusions. My set up and infusion routine is usually done with a television program I’ve seen before streaming in the background. I was fortunate to have a meticulous training nurse who taught me her expeditious ways that are now routine for me. While infusing, the premeds of Benadryl and Tylenol will often assist in a mid-afternoon snooze. Because of this, I never choose to watch something I don’t mind sleeping through while I rest and infuse. When it’s complete, I record the infusion on my app and pack everything away until the next week.
Most of my Sunday afternoons have been nap-filled before SubQ, so to do my infusions on Sundays made perfect sense. What makes it even better is that if plans do arise on a Sunday, I can bump my infusion to the day before or the day after, or even do it earlier or later in the day to accommodate my plans. The flexibility with the absence of side effects, along with the same efficacy I had with IVIG, has made Sunday SubQ work for me!