Ways To Pass The Time During IBD Infusions

Shortly after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, my doctor prescribed a biologic medication. One that I would receive via IV infusion.

I was no stranger to IVs - the years of poor health leading up to diagnosis were filled with hospitalizations, medications, tests, and procedures. But the idea of long-term, routine infusions was a bit overwhelming to me.

Reasons for infusions with IBD

Now, as an IBD patient, there are a few reasons you may receive infusions.

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You may need short or long-term IV antibiotics, steroids, or fluids, and/or you may receive disease-related medication such as Entivyo, Remicade, Tysabri, or Simponi. Some infusions are relatively short (30-60 minutes), where others may last a few hours.

You may receive an infusion while an inpatient in the hospital, or at an outpatient appointment at the hospital, your doctor's office, or an infusion center. Some patients are even offered the option to receive their infusions at home with a home health nurse.

Regardless of where your infusion takes place, what you’re receiving via IV, or how long you’re in the chair, the whole experience can feel somewhat stressful.

My recommendations on passing the time during an infusion

After years of experience, I’ve assembled a list of recommendations on ways to pass the time during IBD infusions.

Something to watch or listen to 

This is for me, pivotal. Getting my brain engrossed in something helps me stay engaged, prevents anxiety about the time passing, or the feelings of being lonely and focused on my IBD. I have found that I often get sleepy during infusions, so I do best with a tv show or movie.

Tips: I typically bring my laptop or tablet to the infusion center, but they also some tv’s available, and if I forget I default to watching something on my phone. Thank goodness for smartphones! (Note: don’t forget headphones and a charger/battery pack for your device!)

Something to do

Reading books or magazines, or doing activities like crossword puzzles, word finds, responding to emails, working, writing, or any other activities which keep your mind and your hands busy are great for infusions. Some patients find that hobbies like knitting or coloring work well during their infusion appointments.

Tips: anything that’s generally transportable, doesn’t require a lot of cleanup or setup, or space to use is great. Just remember you will have an IV in your arm or hand, which may make some of these things more difficult or uncomfortable.

Snacks

When I’m hungry, I am antsy and sometimes angry too. (Hanger is real, friends!) I find that having comfort food snacks available to me throughout my infusion helps the time go by, and keeps me from focusing on the clock and the desire to bolt out the door.

Tips: things that are easy to open, not messy, and don’t upset your stomach are wins. I like crackers, pretzels, or granola bars.

Snooze!

Many infusions include premedications such as Tylenol or Benadryl, and the steady rhythm and sounds of the IV pump often lure patients into a light sleep. If the environment allows, I find that taking a nap really speeds up the time :)

Other tips to keep in mind

Tips - wearing soft and cozy clothes for infusions ensures you are comfortable sitting in one position for long periods of time. Many infusion locations will be able to offer you a pillow or blanket (or both), or you can feel free to bring travel-size ones with you. Sometimes it’s nice to have your own items with you. Other things that may help: eye masks, and/or earplugs.

I hope you find some of the above tips helpful! Is there anything you’d add to the list? I’d love to hear about it below!

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