Common Variable Immunodeficiency

Are Plasma Treatments Painful?

When someone is diagnosed with an immune deficiency, it can be very overwhelming. The worst part for me was hearing that I would have to do a new treatment for the rest of my life. It takes a while to learn how to self-administer plasma with a subcutaneous infusion, especially for someone like me who is not well-versed in anything medical. Learning that you have to stab yourself with needles, fill syringes, and set up a pump is really intimidating. There’s always this fear that something will go wrong.

Luckily, when someone learns how to do subcutaneous infusions, there is a nurse helping them along the way. I was so happy when I started to get the hang of it.

However, I will admit that once every two weeks, when it’s time to do my plasma treatment, I get anxious about the needles all over again. For so long I felt like I was being dramatic, and it gets to the point where I feel like I have to lie to myself and others about how I really feel. The truth is that this is scary, it sucks, and it can be very painful. I see those needles and I’m like… ugh, here we go again.

Nonetheless, I am here to share some things about my plasma treatments and to describe what it’s really like. Even though I don’t love it, it has gotten a lot better and I have figured out how to fit it into my life.

My boyfriend’s dog sitting next to my pump 🙂

So, are plasma treatments painful? I would say yes, but not super painful. It’s definitely manageable and it’s different for everyone. Here are some reasons why I say this:

  1. Every time I do it, the sites get very red and irritable. I have to take an antihistamine every single time or it will just bother me. It kind of stings.
  2. While I do have to stab three needles into my stomach, they are actually very small. Not as thin as acupuncture needles, but still pretty small. So, it’s not horrible if inserted correctly.
  3. I absolutely hate taking them out. Something about it just freaks me out.
  4. I honestly hate needles and medical things in general. If this is you, you’re not alone. A lot of people are really queasy about this stuff.
  5. After the needles are in, you do get to just relax. I take it as an excuse to give myself a break from real life, especially a break from thinking of anything that may stress me out.
  6. You have to be in a really comfortable place (always my room) and be near someone who can help you if something goes wrong. I always have my boyfriend there. He helps me get set up and sits near me the whole time in case I need anything. He’s so sweet!
  7. I have an epi-pen if needed, but I’ve never had to use it.
Another pic of his dog, Delhi, she’s so cute

The main things I suggest to remedy the hard parts are: antihistamines, drinking a lot of water, being comfortable and relaxed, putting away any negative distractions, having someone help you, and having a contact for if you need help from your provider!

Overall, plasma treatments are not fun but they’re not horrible. A lot of times I just have to block out the negative thoughts because they can really run wild. I just have to keep in mind that this is necessary for me to keep living my life and moving forward. I know that I may feel a bit of pain, discomfort, and uneasiness, but I know the next day is a new day. I know that I will get up, get ready, and show up to work. I know life will go on.

Never let yourself feel like you can’t be upset or angry about this! It’s not a choice. And it never goes away. People with PI are on a journey to make things work and feel better!


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