Holiday Travel + the Flu = I.V. Doctor
Who Needs Coal, Santa Brought Me the Flu
I was excited about this past Christmas as my wife and I were set to visit my parents and family in Southern California. We were going for 18 days, where we were also supposed to sneak away for a few days to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Notice how I said we were supposed to get away… unfortunately, while traveling, I managed to catch the flu.
I made it a solid week there before I got sick. Some of the family was under the weather upon our arrival, but hey, I had just gotten off a plane with 170 people stuck in closed air circulation for 5 hours, I was not worried about the family. We had a great Christmas; everyone was under the same roof for the first time in a while - both grandmas, parents, and siblings. We had pictures with Santa, did some shopping, and even hit up Disneyland.
Yeah yeah yeah, I know in the middle of flu season I was probably asking for it, but in the midst of it all, I discovered an intriguing, and kind of controversial health care related service. After getting sicker, I called my Immunologist who suggested Urgent Care for a checkup to see what was going on. I will not go to the hospital unless my doctor instructs me too, and/or I have ruled out all the other options. They always want to hold me for observation or see if I can teach the Primary Immunodeficiency Master Class to all of their residents. I am not a wild animal here for research. So, unless I have to, I avoid the hospital.
I made it to Urgent Care, and they immediately warned me the flu was terrible in Southern California right now. The nurse laughed and said that I was the fastest flu diagnosis she had ever seen in the machine. I got my scripts for Tamiflu, something for a cough, and an anti-nausea medication that felt like it created more symptoms than it solved. That stuff sucked!
The next 48 hours were the usual stay in bed, relax, sleep, try to get better. Ultimately, there were still seven days left on our trip, and I could not stay down for the entire time. We decided that my best bet was to get well enough to get home and that would involve iv fluids which meant the hospital. Then I realized, I am in Hollywood: there has to be someone that can come to me and keep me out of the E.R. In comes the I.V. Doctor, a national service in some of America’s most elite cities. Yes, the service is what you think it is.
These types of services are best known for their controversial mobile hangover services. Drink too much at the Golden Globes in Hollywood? they can administer an IV the next day for recovery. I have to admit I am not a fan, especially at a time where there are reported shortages of fluid bags and saline. So, after a little research we found the I.V. Doctor and being the end of the year, it was convenient that they take an FSA. I was going to lose the money anyway in a couple of days. They offered the hangover remedy if needed, but they also provided something for the flu. A bag of fluids, vitamins, an anti-inflammatory and something for nausea (anything is better than what I was taking).
So, to avoid a day trip to the local hospital, we opted for the I.V. Doctor Flu remedy service. My wife called and booked the appointment, which they told us would be in about two hours so we sat back and waited, unsure of what to expect. I have to admit; I was blown away and impressed by the service. I received a text that a nurse was in the area and could come within an hour of booking the service. 15 minutes before the nurse’s arrival, I received a call from the I.V. Doctor-on-call physician to run through my I.V. orders and then the nurse arrived.
The nurse was extremely polite, and an actual R.N. We were concerned at first maybe it was a phlebotomist or something else. The nurse came with a backpack, mobile I.V. pole and immediately set up. He was polite, introduced himself, his experience, and away we went. One stick, he walked me through the orders and fluids were flowing. The whole treatment itself took about 40 minutes, and during the time we struck up a conversation about the service and his experience.
He is a traveling nurse and works for a local E.R. in the area. He said they were seeing up to 500 patients a day with the flu in the ER. Yeah, I made the right choice to stay home. He never thought about how their company and product could being helping patients like me. He was honest that a lot of his clients were in Hollywood. He admitted that the hangover cure was the number 1 seller and that he had gone into some houses and set up as many as 3-5 I.V.s for party goers. Over the last few weeks, he said that had all moved to the flu remedy and that he was doing up to 5 a day.
As a nurse, he seemed intrigued by the prospect of actually helping someone who was sick and wanting just to be well enough to fly home. We talked about how a concierge service like this could be more accessible to patients like me. The treatment finished, and the fluids were already helping. I thanked him and within the next 2 hours, received a follow-up to make sure I was doing ok.
Another couple of days of rest, and Kristen and I made the trek home. Luckily, we still had some time before heading back to work so that I could rest. Unfortunately, we missed out on our romantic weekend away to celebrate our 1st anniversary. More on that later, but Kristen was terrific, and we opted for a quiet homemade dinner at home.
Upon returning to D.C. for work my doctor requested some labs to make sure that there is nothing else going on, and immediately said: “I have a mobile phlebotomist who can come by your office at your convenience.” I set up the appointment, and the lab tech met me at my work. Mobile medicine seems to be the next big thing. I have to imagine that these services were cheaper than what they would cost a hospital, and are a lot more convenient. But how do we make it more accessible?
I was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of these services, and I understand that is a privilege, but I hope we can find a way to make every day better than the next for patients with Primary Immunodeficiency.
All of my experiences are my own and all of the decisions that I made while traveling were in consultation with my physician. Please always consult with your physician and medical team before trying anything you may read here. I am not a doctor, just a curious patient sharing his adventures.