The Mighty Logo

Why I'm Thankful for the Medical Treatment I Originally Never Wanted

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

On this day last year, I received my first liter of IV fluids – reluctantly opening a new chapter in my long and unwritten story. I remember being hesitant when my doctor first brought it up. As much as I knew it would help my quality of life, I wasn’t willing to admit I needed so much intervention just to feel somewhat “normal.” I finally agreed to do it, temporarily, “as a trial.” It wasn’t that I was scared of the unknown – as someone who works full-time in an emergency room, I knew exactly what I was signing up for. And maybe that was the problem. I was terrified. I was stressed out about having to be treated by nurses in a new facility, a place I had never been. I was nervous to be on the patient side of things, scared for the pain of so many needles.

It wasn’t an easy adjustment, to say the least. I still don’t use call lights or ask for much, because I have the ER staff perspective ringing in my ear. I’m probably the most cooperative patient they have because I’ve seen the alternative. I had to learn to sit back and let the nurses do their jobs, had to remind myself I was merely their patient and not a coworker.

A year later, I estimate somewhere around 75 liters of lactated ringers, close to 100 times being poked, and somewhere around 200 hours logged in my favorite recliner at the infusion center. And somehow, it has become so normal, comfortable even. I hardly bat an eye at the sight of a needle, even on days when it takes two or three tries. (And I know which nurses are more likely to have success with certain spots.) I have learned firsthand what it feels like to have an infiltrated line, what it feels like when the vein blows, and learned exactly where all my best veins are. I know which ones can be accessed easily and which ones need to be preheated. I have learned the ins and outs of how IV fluids make a difference in my body, become even more aware of my ever-changing vital signs, and I know now how to tell when I’m due for another IV treatment.

Some days I even feel like I know my infusion nurses better than some of my friends, but the sobering reality I that, at 25 years old, I really do spend more time each week there in the clinic than I spend with any of my friends.

It’s fitting that as I write this, I’m sitting right here in my second home, comfy in my favorite recliner, waiting for today’s liter of fluids to finish infusing.

A year later, I’m feeling nothing but incredibly thankful – thankful that I reluctantly agreed to proceed with this treatment one year ago today, thankful for friends who have supported me and kept me company back in the beginning when it was daunting, thankful for modern medicine and innovation, thankful for a local specialist who follows my case, thankful for nurses who really care and who helped me to feel comfortable and safe right away.

And today, I’m thankful that even though things don’t get any easier, I sure as hell get a whole lot stronger.

Getty Image by A&J Fotos

Originally published: July 25, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home