My IV Antibiotic Life Hack Story
By Andrea Eisenman
Doing IV antibiotics can put one on a grueling, sleepless schedule. For me, it becomes how long can I sleep at night and do the allotted IVs every so many hours. But also, when can I nap and when can I walk the dogs, cook, exercise, grocery shop plus fitting in my regular treatments, of inhalations, nasal steaming and lavage and arm compression. Then throw in traveling time going places, I feel like I am on house-arrest.
I try to plan my day if I have to do anything else but treatments when on IVs, especially, if they are every eight hours. I have been on IVs every 12 hours and that is a breeze. Compared to every six or eight hours. I alter the schedule just a little bit on either end at night to try to get as close to 8 hours of sleep and then make it up during the day. But really try to stick to every 7-8 hours in between doses.
Due to my insurance no longer paying for the vacuum-packed balls filled with antibiotics that infuse without gravity, I have to use gravity drip bags which usually takes about an hour or slightly more. It does limit what I can do and usually, it is best to sit and not stand and try to cook, or do anything while infusing— just takes longer. When I worked and had commercial health insurance, I received those vacuum-packed IV balls that fit in my pocket and was able to go to work, get on the subway, and function more normally than needing a pole to hook up to. Although, before those vacuumed IV balls were available, I would take a wire clothes hanger to work and hang my bag to infuse my IVs. It was definitely more embarrassing and made me feel uncomfortable, as I didn’t have a private office, but we have to do what we have to do.
During my last Zosyn IVs for three weeks, I was caught in traffic driving someone home, who had graciously offered to visit. And then I had to get back home which would have delayed my IVs until I arrived home, past a margin I was comfortable with. Being a bit rigid about doing them too close together or too far apart in hours, I tried to do the IV in the car, while driving. Before I started my trip back home, I set up the IV pole in the car, next to me, I could not get the pole high enough to enact the gravity needed for the IV to flow. I tried the coat hook next to me and behind me, it did not work. Then I realized I had a sun roof, which I never use. While I pulled the car over, I realized I can open the sun roof, stick the edge of the bag of 250 mL IV fluid to hang and then close the sun roof. The bag was then suspended higher than my head. To my amazement, it worked. My Zosyn started dripping. I then drove back home for an hour and a half in traffic, hoping I didn’t catch the eye of a passing police car or highway patrolman.
People behind me could certainly see something odd hanging down near my rearview mirror. And those in front of me could catch sight of the bag hanging with the tubing and all, but it did not affect my ability to see through the rearview mirror.
I wish I had a picture of it as it did make me laugh! I am not endorsing this method, but it was a good option for me at the time. It was a life-hack out of necessity. One of many ways those of us with CF have had to be resourceful and ingenious to keep our lives going at the pace we want!
About the Author: Andrea Eisenman is 54 and has CF, she is 19.5 years post transplant. Diagnosed with CFRD just after her lung transplant, she appreciates new technology to help her manage her diabetes better. She loves cooking and playing tennis or pickle ball and hopes to compete in the Transplant Games of America next summer in those two sports. She has been a director on the board of CF Roundtable and USACFA since 2002.