Monday, December 13, 2010

My Tysabri Treats

Grabbing a delightful infusion nap.

I love infusion days! This might surprise you. After all, who likes the idea of getting stuck with a needle and hanging out for a few hours as a (potentially dangerous) drug drips into your veins? I admit, there might be a few downsides, but for me there are a wealth of upsides to that Monday that comes around every 28 days.

First of all, I'm extremely grateful for the drug itself. Yes, the risk of PML can be a little scary, but for now anyway, the benefits outweigh the risks for me. Before I started Tysabri 3 1/2 years or so ago, I was having relapse after relapse. It was almost like clockwork, every month or so. Lots of bad stuff was going on: serious problems with walking, balance, and more. Shots weren't helping and things were not looking so great until my neurologist suggested I try Tysabri. I haven't had a relapse since! So, I am extremely grateful for Tysabri, especially when I imagine where I might have been right now without it.

When I began Tysabri, I had to travel four hours (one way!) to get infused. Super-supporter and trooper that she is, my mom faithfully drove the 8-hour jaunt every month. The trip, of course, required eating out, and since I received my infusions in a much larger area than I lived in, it was an opportunity to dine at some of my favorite places that I normally didn't have easy access to. Thus began the tradition of the Tysabri Treat. This usually took the form of lunch at Panera and a delicious smoothie from Jamba Juice. Mmmmmm. For the last year or so, I've been able to receive my infusions much closer to home. Sadly, no more Panera or Jamba, but the Tysabri Treat lives on. Before the infusion, we have lunch at a fantastic Thai restuarant and afterward pick up a Spicy Dark Chocolate Mocha or similar treat from Caribou. Especially as someone who doesn't eat out all that often, this little tradition of associating Tysabri infusions with a little treat makes me happy.

Now, on to the infusion experience. Infusion nurses tend to be super nice people. There are a few nurses in particular I rather miss from my old infusion center, but the gals at my current place are all quite friendly too. Nice people are always a great thing to have in your day. Nice people eager to bring you juice, cookies, warm blankets and more? Even better! Next, hospital beds are pretty awesome. I adore being able to adjust the height of my head and legs. I'd totally love to have one at home. I frequently fall asleep during my infusions, and it's often some of the best sleep I get! When I'm not sleeping, there's another bonus: tv with cable! I haven't had this luxury in years now, which is just fine as I watch the things I want to watch on hulu and netflix, but every now and again, I love the option of just scanning the channels or settling in for a little HGTV.

Finally, infusion days almost always remind me how very lucky I really am in the health department. Sure, I have an incurable disease and quite a few associated little problems...but it could be so much worse. I get my infusions at a cancer center, and I'm the only Tysabri patient they see. So many of my fellow infusion-getters are in a much more dire health situation than I am. And many of them suffer myriad unpleasant symptoms as a result of the infusions they get. I usually have a headache for a few days after my Tysabri, but it doesn't take my hair or send me running to the toilet! Seeing the bravery and strong spirits of so many of these patients always reminds me to be grateful for the health that I do have and for the drugs that do help me.

This positive piece of art hangs in the waiting room at the cancer center.

Sure, there are a few unpleasant needle pokes, but overall, Tysabri days are good days. I encourage all of you to use the opportunity of getting an infusion, or giving yourself a shot, or any other disease-related activity, to give yourself a treat and/or to find the treats that are already all around you!

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