We were stuck in a holding pattern until my insurance company approved the iron iv infusion. At least a week of phone calls and tenacity on my part finally got the approval. It was so very frustrating as it seemed as if I they weren’t understanding just how important the treatment was to me. My first iron infusion therapy appointment on November 28, 2012 was nerve wracking for me, as it is administered in the same infusion suite where chemo is delivered it was a quick reminder just how fortunate I was to be here with a plan. The infusion has to be done where they are prepared for any allergic reactions and can act quickly to address adverse side effects, the surroundings remind you that this is not something to be taken lightly. I was searching within and without to find a way to calm myself, to focus, to visualize healing taken place – and then it happened. As the nurse approached me with the rather large syringe containing black liquid (my iron) I immediately saw her coming at me with Adamantium- I knew as soon as I started getting that force into my system I would be strong again and be ready to take on the world! Okay, so there was a slight moment of panic when I proved to be a bit allergic to Adamantium and started itching all over my body. I did get to see just how quickly the doctors, nurses and aides could get a crash cart over and start injecting benadryl into my IV. Once that passed I went back to my visualization, made even stronger by a dose of benadryl.
Adamantium – The Heroic Table of Elements
In case you are not familiar with Adamantium, in the Marvel Comics universe it is an indestructible metal alloy best known for being the substance bonded to Wolverine’s skeleton and bone claws. I saw the iron flowing into my body, bonding to my blood cells and bringing me strength. I saw myself running again, being active, being strong. Those images helped me hold on and get through the process. I left feeling pretty lousy, beat up and achy, happy to be able to make it home before I started vomiting. We had to call the doctor so he could prescribe anti nausea meds, with that I was finally able to sleep a bit. The next day I felt horrible, but kept revisiting my visualization and using the power of positive thinking sure that each day I would feel better. I knew I had one more treatment to get through and I had to believe that this would be the answer for me. Any other outcome was unacceptable.
Those unfamiliar with the importance and healing power of visualization in healing, and with that visualization having a personal power for the patient, tried to tell me that what I really should be thinking about was Iron Man - as the infusion was in fact iron. For me there is only one superhero who could save me – for me that syringe was Adamantium. I had my second of two infusions on December 6, 2012. I always find myself more apprehensive when I know what pain awaits me, when I have a clear idea of just how uncomfortable the getting to the other side of this thing would be. One benefit was that after my last experience I first received benadryl through the iv prior to the infusion – no itching, no creepy crawlies! Also, although I was exhausted and a bit nauseous afterward I did not throw up and was able to sleep it off most of the afternoon.
The next step was the waiting, and as Tom Petty sings, it truly is the hardest part. I would now wait six months and have my blood work repeated to see if this was my cure, my own personal Adamantium. If the levels made it up into normal range, I would then have the test repeated in another six months to check levels again. How often I need to have the iv iron infusion therapy will be totally dependent on how my body absorbs, stores and utilizes the iron injected into my body. Potentially the treatments could only be once a year – I won’t know until time passes. What I do know is that this will be a forever thing, considering all of the horrible things I narrowly avoided, this was totally acceptable.
In the mean time I had a very important goal that my recovery process was based on. Whenever I felt weak, I kept reminding myself that by December 10th my strength would return enough for me to make a very important date. Tenacious, determined, focused and unrelenting are qualities I have relied on to get me through even the most difficult of times. When I set my mind to accomplish something very little gets in the way of me and my goal. Even more so when I had a date to thank the person who in a unique way was part of my healing.
Hugh Jackman & me, Les Miserables Premier
December 10, 2012 NYC
Update: On May 10, 2013 I had blood work done that showed all of my results falling into the normal range. I pride myself on never being defined as “normal”, but in this case it was wonderful news. As long as I remain symptom free, my next blood work will be in November of 2013 – hopefully I won’t need my next infusion of my super hero cure for quite awhile!