Infliximab Home Infusion
Around a year ago, I wrote about my experience during a Remicade infusion in an infusion center. Since then, I moved and now I receive my infusions in my home, which is different from my experience in an infusion center.
When I moved, I contacted a new health care facility that is local to my new home. This facility worked with my new health care insurance company to arrange for my infusions in my home. These infusions are for infliximab, which is the off-brand name of Remicade. I was hesitant about home infusions at first but it has turned out to be quite relaxing and relatively easy.
Getting my home infusion
To begin, a nurse from the local health care facility comes to my apartment with the supplies needed to complete the infusion. She brings the medication as well as IV needles, syringes, alcohol swabs, tubing, tape, infusion pump, gloves, etc. Once she gets here, she checks my blood pressure and starts an IV line.
A benefit of home infusions is that I am able to watch how my medication is made! The infusion nurse brings the medicine from the infusion center and mixes it with saline right in front of me, in my living room. Infliximab comes in separate small bottles that hold 100mg of medicine each in powder form. The nurse injects saline into each bottle to mix with the powder. Then she draws out the liquid and injects that mixture into the large saline bag for my infusion. Even though I have increased my infliximab dosage over the years, the size of the saline bag stays the same. Then she connects the bag to the infusion pump which is connected to the IV line in my arm and we start the infusion.
After the infusion starts, the rest is easy! We usually sit on my couch in my living room and pick something to watch on TV. She works on some paperwork and I crochet. We almost always end up talking about our lives or what we are watching. After an hour has passed, she checks my blood pressure again. If it is okay, which it always has been, then she increases the rate of infusion on the pump. This means that the medicine infuses at a quicker pace.
The process takes about 4 hours
After two hours, I usually start to wonder when this will be done. The infliximab infusion typically lasts around three hours but it always makes me tired and hungry. I am often ready to eat and sleep by the second hour. But since there is another hour to go, I sometimes curl up and close my eyes for the last hour.
The entire process takes around 4 hours. This includes the nurse starting an IV, mixing the medication, and the time it takes for the infusion of medicine to finish. When the infusion finishes, the nurse checks my blood pressure. She is checking to make sure I am not having a negative reaction to the medicine. So far it has always been fine, so then she removes the IV and bandages the wound to stop any bleeding. Then she cleans up her supplies and we say good-bye!
Home infusions have created less disruption
For 24 hours post-infusion, I always have an “infusion hangover.” I use this term, coined by my dad, for the fatigue, hunger, and general malaise that comes after an infusion. I am always tired and have a headache after the infusion is done. So I eat a huge meal, take a long nap, and usually sleep well into the following morning. So far, this is the worst side effect I have experienced from the infusion. Since these symptoms only last around 24 hours, it is easy for me to deal with them and quickly return to my normal routine.
Home infusions have been different from infusions in a clinic but it has been a nice experience. It is more peaceful and quiet than my last infusion center. I get to stay on my own couch in sweatpants and watch my own television. Then I can just walk to my bed and take a nap, instead of having to drive home from the center. This allows for less disruption to my life as a result of using the infliximab to treat my hidradenitis suppurativa. Because of that, this has been a beneficial treatment option for me and it has improved my HS.
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