By William S. Hindin
When I was first treated with intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) for primary immunodeficiency disease (PI), I went to an infusion room at a local hospital. At one of my first infusions, I sat down next to a very pleasant young woman named Christie, who had been treated for PI for many years. As it turned out, our schedules coincided, and Christie and I saw each other almost every monthly IVIG session I had for that year. We would sit next to each other and chat. It was really great to have an IVIG buddy.
Although I am now treated with subcutaneous IG, thinking back, I realize these IVIG sessions were a wonderful opportunity for patients like me to get to know one another. To have an opportunity to make strong personal connections and sharing experiences in invaluable.
On one occasion, I asked Christie how she was doing. Her response somewhat startled me. She said, "In the past four weeks, I have only been hospitalized for two of those weeks." I told her how sorry I was to hear she had been so ill. But, her response surprised me even more. She said, "You don't understand. I used to be hospitalized for three or even four weeks every month. I spent most of my time fighting the effects of PI. Being on IVIG has improved my life, so now I have good stretches of decent health and I can enjoy my life." Christie opened my eyes to look at the glass half-full. She was grateful IVIG enabled her to live her life.
Since knowing Christie, I no longer consider my PI-related illnesses to be such a big deal. Christie helped me put things into perspective. I now appreciate the good health I have, and I try to de-emphasize the periods when I experience health challenges. When they do occur, I can handle them with a balanced perspective I didn't have before.
The great Judy Garland lived a tortured life. From alcoholism to drug addiction, nervous breakdowns and fluctuating appearance (sadly so important in show business), she appeared to suffer greatly. The story goes that she kept a scrapbook of cuttings from newspapers and other media about the terrible trials and challenges others went through. The title on the front of her scrapbook: "And You Think You've Got Problems?"
Reprinted with permission.