This past week I did my monthly order of my Ig meds (Gamunex-c right now) and supplies. Since I’ve been doing this once a month for nearly five years now, it is totally automatic. I know all the names of the supplies, the amounts I need, the sizes I need, etc. But as I was ordering this week I had a flashback moment as I was mechanically naming off the supplies I need in this month’s shipment to when I first started out–it was the weirdest thing learning all the special names for squares of plastic tape and the numbering of tube sizes and needle sizes. And I also remember it was a little overwhelming at first. So for today’s post I’m going to go over the basic supplies for a Subq Ig infusion.
Typical Subq Supplies List:
- Premeds – Most people take premeds to help limit side effects from the infusion. The most common premeds are Benadryl and Tylenol. I use 25mg of Benadryl and 650mg of Tylenol.
- Epipen – If you’re doing an infusion at home, whether it is IV or Subq, you have to have an epipen on hand in case of a severe reaction. When you’re being taught to do your home infusions, you will also be taught how to use the epipen.
- Tegaderm – These clear, stretchy tape-like things are used to keep needles in place during the infusion.
- Medical tape – You may have a variety of uses for the tape. I use some at the bottom of the tegaderm as extra help to keep the needle in place, even if the tubing gets caught on something.
- Numbing cream – You put numbing cream on 20-60 minutes before your infusion in the places you are going to stick the needles. It helps it not to sting so much when the needle goes in.
- Bandaids – I figured you wouldn’t need a picture. Often you’ll need to put a bandaid on each of your sites for a while after you’ve pulled the needles out at the end of the infusion.
- Tubing – tubing, or rate tubing, controls the speed at which the medicine is pushed into your sites. Different numbers on the tubing correspond to either faster or slower rates. Right now I use F120 tubing, which is a pretty slow rate. When I was on Gammagard I used F900 tubing, which is much faster. It’s all a bit confusing at first but your nurse and specialty pharmacy will help you figure out which rate tubing is best for you.
- Subcutaneous needle set – For a Subq infusion you can have anywhere from 1-6 or more needles. How many needles you need will depend on the medicine you’re on, the dosage, etc. I think it is pretty typical to start with a 4 needle set and increase or decrease depending on how your body handles it. In addition to the number of needles, there are also different size needles in length and gage (width). The typical length is 9mm. 6mm is for kids or people with very little body fat. 12mm can be used if you are having troubles with leaking. The typical gage of a Subq needle for Ig infusions is 27. Your doctor will typically order the size and gage they think best originally and then you can work with your specialty pharmacy to adjust as needed.
- Syringes – These are what hold your medicine during the infusion. In setting up the infusion you draw your med from the bottle into one or more syringes, then you hook up the tubing to the syringe and put the syringe in the pump!
- Mini spikes – These are what you use to draw your med from the bottle to the syringe(s).
- Gauze pads – These have many uses, but they’re kinda like the tape or bandaids–pretty self explanatory.
- Alcohol wipes – Also called alcohol prep pads, you use these to sanitize your skin before you stick the needle. You can also use them on surfaces to sanitize– like if you have a plastic mat instead of a sterile drape to set your stuff up on, you’d need to sanitize it with the alcohol wipes before each infusion.
- Sterile drapes – These provide a sanitary surface for you to set up all your infusion stuff on.
- Infusion pump – Your pump pushes the medicine into your tubing and through your needles into you! Seriously be grateful for your pump because pushing the syringe yourself for hours at a time would be super tiring.
- Sharps container — At the end of your infusion you put your used needles in the sharps container. When your sharps container is full your specialty pharmacy usually has a prepaid box you ship it to their disposal facilities in.
Ok so I think I covered all the basic supplies you’ll be handling with your Subq infusions, but if you’re still confused no worries! This is just part 1 remember? I’ll have further posts about Subq infusions in the future as well as a video showing you how I do my infusion 😉 In the meantime, if you have ANY questions about Ig infusions please feel free to ask me! Comment, shoot me an email- whatever. I’d love to help you out if I can. You’re not alone!