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Voice of the Patient - Regina Holmberg

Regina Holmberg sits in infusion therapy

Support. During a crisis, we rely on the support of others to help us through. This support has long been seen to have a positive emotional effect on people. However, it has a physical benefit as well. For Regina Holmberg, not only has her family been a major support, but Anna Marcus, Infusion RN, and the other infusion patients she sees regularly in the HNJH Infusion Room have provided a sense of comfort. “When you have support, that makes all the difference,” explained Holmberg. When those times of crisis hit, people tend to experience higher blood pressure and heart rates. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, in their studies, found that the presence of friends or family members has been shown to reduce those rates during difficult periods. “We’re like our own little family. I really get to know the patients and their families since we spend so much time together,” explains Marcus.

After suffering for years with severe symptoms, “My hands cramped. I had aches deep in my bones and heart palpitations that would wake me up at night,” Holmberg was eventually diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Gitelman syndrome in which there is a specific defect in kidney function. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), this defect impairs the kidney’s ability to reabsorb salt and causes imbalances in various electrolyte and fluid concentrations in the body. The electrolytes affected are primarily mineral salts such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and chloride. The symptoms and severity of the disorder can vary greatly from one person to another and can range from mild to severe. Infusion therapy involves the administration of medication through a needle or catheter. It is usually prescribed when a patient's condition is so severe that it cannot be treated effectively by oral medications. Typically, "infusion therapy" means that a drug is administered intravenously, but the term also may refer to situations where drugs are provided through other non-oral routes, such as intramuscular injections.

Holmberg now receives infusions twice weekly to supplement her body of those necessary minerals. Each treatment takes roughly 3 hours, and she has made this her routine for over 14 years. Four years ago, to make the treatments less painful, Holmberg opted for a port to be implanted. When she went into surgery there was a familiar, supportive face in the operating room, Anna Marcus. “Being cross-trained, I can often be involved in a patient’s surgery,” says Marcus. “Anna is good to us,” Holmberg states, “I’m grateful that this service is available close to home.” 

While Holmberg comes in twice-weekly, other patients need to have infusions as many as four times a week. Imagine traveling four times a week to receive these life-saving treatments. “Our community is truly blessed to have access to these services without traveling,” explains Marcus. In fact, patients with a doctor’s order from outside the area can still receive infusions and/or injections at Helen Newberry Joy Hospital. Anna states, “It’s important that patients advocate for themselves and take advantage of these services close to home.”

If you have questions about a specific treatment, would like to arrange treatment, or need additional information, please contact our Chemo/Infusion Therapy Department by calling 906-293-9283.