Ghetto Cowboy: Iron Infusion


Lovin’ this tune by Bone Thugs, diggin’ Krayzie’s southern drawl,
The war is almost over but I ain’t on my laurels,
One more major obstacle, the last piece of the puzzle before returning to life’s hard grind and hustle,
An iron infusion awaits, let’s see how this shit pans out,
The finish line’s in sight, ain’t no stoppin’ me now.

A month and a few odd weeks prior to this date, I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, body weakened from anaemia and a then-unidentified disease, undergoing a blood transfusion. Fast-forward to mid-September, I was sitting on a reclinable chair at the same hospital, albeit at a different area, body on the mend but not quite ready for a return to action, undergoing an iron infusion. It would be another life experience that I can add to my never-ending scrapbook of memories.

An hour earlier, I had sat in the waiting room, accompanied by my parents as always, playing with my phone when I wasn’t on my feet stretching my arms and back and pacing back and forth waiting to get this procedure over and done with. An elderly gentleman and his wife sitting across from me were among the very few others in the waiting room and for a while the man stared at me, examining me as though I was a rare species in a zoo and I returned his gaze, mystified and admittedly slightly irate that this guy was eyeballing me. He faintly resembled a real-life version of the protagonist from that Disney film Up. Finally, he spoke up.
“What are you here for?” he inquired, his words strained under the weight of his gravelly voice.
“An iron infusion,” I replied.
His eyes widened with intrigue behind his thin, gold-framed glasses, the same look that my former roommates during my blood transfusion weekend wore when they got a view of my sick-ass self.
“Oh…..why would you need that?”
“Anaemia,” I answered.
I didn’t tell him about the colitis. No point telling him more than he needed to know.
“All the best with it,” he said.
“Thank you.”
And with that he returned his attention to his wife who was seated next to him. It was rather hard to tell who was the patient and who was the support system between the pair of them.

Of all the hospital and doctor’s visits that I had gone through during this period the waiting time for this particular procedure was probably the most excruciating of them all. I was still watching the minutes go by fifteen minutes past my scheduled appointment and I was starting to get exasperated. This was seriously eating into my walking and reading time the two activities that kept me sane during my recovery.

What the hell, man!? Is everyone on the block on a late lunch break!?

Talk about an extremely slow day at the office.

I wasn’t exactly hyped about having to go through this iron infusion but a massive wave of relief washed over me when a nurse finally called my name and began to escort me towards a vast hospital room, where a reclinable hospital bed with a TV screen attached to it and an IV machine were waiting for me. I guess it took a while before one of those chairs became available. There were other similar beds spread out throughout the room, all with patients having various solutions pumped into them while their spouses looked on, save for one patient who was accompanied by her adult daughter. The room even had a separate space at the back, made all the more appealing with wide windows that offered a decent view of the the hospital complex outside and some of the neighboring houses. This was the space where nursing staff ate and chilled between tasks and the area even had plush chairs, a lunch table, vending machines and a flat screen TV on one of the walls to complete the atmosphere of rest and peace.

My nurse, a lovely lady of Chinese descent in her mid to late forties, checked my weight on a scale before I entered the room to take my seat. Here comes another pleasant surprise.
“Fifty-seven kilos”.
Holy crap. I’d regained five of those lost kilos now.
The good news didn’t stop there. According to the nurse the blood test that I did after my meeting with Dr. R had yielded a haemoglobin reading in the one-hundred-tens. Oh man, I was out of there.


Pardon my language, that was the dormant party animal within me making an appearance.

With that little celebration out of the way the nurse escorted me to my seat and asked me to sit back and get comfortable. She sanitized the area in the crook of my right elbow where the IV will be hooked before tying a clamp around my arm. She then asked me to make a fist with my right hand, raising the vein before she shot a needle through.
Perhaps I was still high from the double dose of good news but I didn’t feel the needle plunge through my vein.
She then hooked that needle onto a tube attached to a bag of deep red liquid that would be pumped into my system. There would be a few more questions before the contents of that bag was set loose into my system.
“You were told of some possible side-effects, right?”
“Yeah. The haemotologist told me.”
“Good. Panadol should ease any pain that you feel afterwards.”
Sound advice but I hoped that, like the Mezavant and Imuran, I would be spared from any of these nasty side-effects. The thought of being dependent on yet another damn drug was not part of the script.
I settled back into my seat and reclined it to a more comfortable level as the nurse switched on the pump.
“This should take about half an hour to forty-five minutes,” she said, “sit back and relax.”

Just as it was with the blood transfusion I felt a surge of cool snake through the veins in my right arm as I sat back and watched some afternoon TV programs on the screen attached to my chair. My mother sat beside me, watching the program on my screen while my father intermittently sat on the other chair but sometimes got up to pace around.
I reclined back on my chair and allowed the IV to do its job. The programs on the TV screen grew boring rather quickly and so I settled for trying to take a nap. Limited mobility, being stuck in one place and the sickening quiet of the room somehow failed to make that happen.

I probably should have brought a book with me.

My parents made occasional small-talk with me, mostly about the positive results of my health tests since the colonoscopy and diagnosis but for the most part, we sat in silence and let the IV do its job. Forty minutes couldn’t come soon enough and once the machine beeped to alert nursing staff that the task was complete, the nurse calmly unhooked me, gently pulled out the catheter and sanitized where it had been placed before covering it with a band aid.
“Very good, Sir,” she mused, “how are you feeling?”
“I feel good.”
I slowly stood up and stretched my limbs and the nurse handed me a small pamphlet that described exactly what they had just pumped into my system, including any possible side-effects.
“If you ever feel any pain over the next few days, Panadol should take care of it,” she said before adding “but if the pain persists or you suffer from dizziness, nausea or anything of the sort, return to the hospital immediately.”
“Yes, Ma’am.”
And with that, my parents and I shook hands with her before leaving.

Well……another procedure done and the bloodwork is yielding positive results. I also hadn’t seen any blood in the stools as of late so I guess the colitis had significantly weakened. My days as a recovering patient were slowly coming to an end and I was chomping at the bit to get my normal life back.
But I wasn’t popping the champagne or doing any victory dances just yet. I still had another appointment with Dr. B coming up to find out exactly how far I’d come. Where I once was a bag of nerves whenever I entered his office I now couldn’t wait to see him to deliver the great news.

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