What It Was Like to Get My First Infusion Treatment for M.E.
It had been weeks of the worst flare I’d ever gone through and I was only getting worse. I could barely sit up for more than a few minutes at a time and the fatigue grew more and more each day. I’m used to feeling like death is knocking at my door, but this time was different and the desperation set in.
I’d been reading research papers and anecdotes for years on IV therapy for my conditions and conditions I share many symptoms with. I regularly drink an electrolyte and salt powder mix with my water and that brings some relief on top of helping me stay hydrated, but there were no promises that a saline infusion would do anything at all during this flare. My PCP was out of the office so I couldn’t ask her to refer me to an infusion center in time, so I turned to the many infusion centers in my city.
It was a shot in the dark.
A $250 shot in the dark.
I didn’t have the strength to leave my house and I was willing to pay extra for a nurse to come to my home and let me do the infusion from the comfort of my couch. It was better than the risk of worsening my flare-up while I was out in public with no assistance. I got a basic combo bag of saline, B-complex vitamins, B12, vitamin C, and zinc as it was listed as the more popular option for energy and immune system boosting and every other option was significantly more expensive.
The nurse arrived on a morning I hadn’t had a lot of sleep and my symptoms were at their worst. The perfect position to truly tell how effective the treatment would be. She took my medical history down and informed me of how everything would work and what to look out for. She stuck me twice in one arm before having to move to the next (cursed tiny veins) and was the first medical provider to inform me that I needed smaller gauge needles after many a blown vein in my medical history. After I was hooked up and comfortable, she reminded me of the number to text her if I needed anything and went back to the van to give me my privacy.
Aside from the IV needle in my arm (which was as uncomfortable as expected), I was pretty comfortable. I turned on some YouTube videos and waited. Within 10 or 15 minutes, I began to taste the saline, which I now know means that it’s working. To my surprise, I started to feel… good? It was a gradual buildup as the IV dripped, but I could feel the brain fog lifting and I had a clarity I hadn’t experienced in years. It was like the clouds had started to part to show the sun after weeks of overcast weather and heavy clouds.
By the time the IV finished, I could feel the flare easing away. I still opted to nap for an hour afterward, but by the end of the day, I had prepared two meals, done some dishes, and put together a piece of furniture that had been delivered that day. It didn’t feel like gravity was trying to drag me down, my heart rate wasn’t beating out of my chest from the slightest movement, and my joints hurt significantly less.
I felt hydrated as hell and ran to the bathroom a lot over the course of the day afterward, but I had energy.
It’s been over 24 hours since the infusion and I can’t believe a bag of salt water and vitamins has given me a vitality I thought was long gone. I’m still ill and I feel it, but my body feels like it did before I got my M.E. diagnosis and I was put through physical therapy.
I’d given up hope on treatment options that could work for me, but for the first time in forever, this experience has given me something to fight for.
Getty image by Catherine McQueen.