Weak After Phlebotomy to Treat Polycythemia: How to Improve Recovery?

Posted by buckaroobanzai @buckaroobanzai, Aug 31 9:48am

My physician ordered monthly therapeutic phlebotomy treatments to treat polycythemia. They knock me flat for at least 48 hours post treatment. What can I do to enhance post treatment recovery? Any recommendations?

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Hi @buckaroobanzai, Well, considering you’re literally ‘down a pint’ there’s no way to rush recovery from losing red blood cells. They carry oxygen needed to keep you moving and energize your body. So until they start regenerating, fatigue is your friend for a few days. I see an opportunity for guilt-free nap and binge watching movies. 😉

However, one way to aid that recovery is to drink plenty of water. Aim for 8-8 oz glasses per day. That’s also a standard for several days before you get your phlebotomy. Your blood is comprised of about 83% water in the form of plasma. Plasma makes up about 55 % of the composition in blood. So if you’re down a unit of blood you’re missing that all important liquid component.

The American Red Cross has this to sat about recovery from donating blood, which is essentially what you’re doing.
“A person can help restore blood cells by drinking water, broth, or herbal tea.
The American Red Cross recommend drinking an extra 4 glasses, or 32 ounces, of liquid in the first 24 hours after donating blood:

There are also foods you can eat that are rich in Iron and B vitamins. The problem is that you already have an excess of iron, which is the reason for the phlebotomies, so that creates a little conundrum. Has your hematologist or dietician worked with you on a special diet for your condition?

REPLY

Hello Lori,

Thank you for your response. I am a law student, so have no opportunity for guilt-free napping and binge-watching movies. 🙁

Am wondering about a post-treatment saline infusion as a possible immediate solution. Anyone tried that? My phlebotomy sessions are done at the oncology transfusion center, so saline infusion is an option. I will ask the nurse for guidance when I arrive, follow her directions, see how I feel afterwards, and report back.

Oh, and no, my dietician hasn't said anything about a special diet. Is there one?

Again: If anyone here has tried a saline or other transfusion, please give me some feedback.

Thanks!

REPLY
@buckaroobanzai

Hello Lori,

Thank you for your response. I am a law student, so have no opportunity for guilt-free napping and binge-watching movies. 🙁

Am wondering about a post-treatment saline infusion as a possible immediate solution. Anyone tried that? My phlebotomy sessions are done at the oncology transfusion center, so saline infusion is an option. I will ask the nurse for guidance when I arrive, follow her directions, see how I feel afterwards, and report back.

Oh, and no, my dietician hasn't said anything about a special diet. Is there one?

Again: If anyone here has tried a saline or other transfusion, please give me some feedback.

Thanks!

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Good question, Buck. Allow me to tag some fellow PV members to bring them into the discussion, like @pv17082022 @jerrlin @tlsantin @lindaw123 @chadknudson @hope19 @atir @clarissa37 @chadknudson @apr931 @mwear and @juiceinjc.

I look forward to hearing what you learn from your team. Please report back.

REPLY

Yes I have saline infusion following my phlebotomy. It helps me immensely. My oncologist ordered it because I was having dizziness following phlebotomy.

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