Working Life is a monthly column in which Texans talk about their jobs.

Jon Barnhill, who is 35, owns the drip-therapy business IV Bird. He provides at-home hydration treatment for Austin’s wellness enthusiasts and hard partiers.

I was a firefighter paramedic before this. Austin Fire—the best in the state. I loved it, but the lifestyle is tough: 24-hour shifts; you miss birthdays, Christmas. I was in therapy and going on this tirade about how dissatisfied I was. My therapist told me, “Let’s write your two weeks’ notice right now.” I wrote it, and I left the fire department without a real plan.

I started working for a friend who had an IV company, providing holistic medicine. It was a breath of fresh air to meet clients, and—
unlike the folks you see as a firefighter—it’s not the worst day of their life, like their mom’s dying or something like that.

I wanted to be partners. I made a business plan and offered him money, but he declined, so I went out on my own. All the other companies sound the same—drip this, fluid that. I was like, the name needs to be distinguishable. I was sitting at a coffee shop, and this little sparrow flew up on the rail, and I thought, “IV Bird.” 

A lot of the job is treating hangovers—our basic IV is the Hangover Recovery, for $239. It’s got all the B vitamins, a high dose of vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, and then glutathione—an antioxidant that helps cleanse the liver. Pound for pound, it’s the best drip.

working life IV Fluids Therapist Jon Barnhill
Barnhill in his IV Bird truck. Photograph by Sarah Karlan
working life IV Fluids Therapist Jon Barnhill
Barnhill gathers IV vials for a job in Austin, on April 18. Photograph by Sarah Karlan

You need to be prepared before people call. I check my gear—make sure I have IV bags, tourniquets, alcohol preps, needles, trash bags, poles—and I load up my truck. If you wait for the first appointment, you’re already behind. There’s always the witching hour—9 a.m., 10 a.m. Like clockwork: “Jon! Is there any chance you could give me an IV before I head to the airport?” They want a drip twenty minutes ago. Everyone feels like hell. I try to make it easy. You don’t have to put a credit card down. Just give me your information and I’ll get somebody there.

The bachelor and bachelorette parties are always funny. There was one—I showed up at this huge mansion and started some drips on the first people that stumbled in. There was this naked woman on the downstairs terrace, just passed out. I was like, “Has anyone checked on her yet?” She turned out to be totally fine, but it looked like the movie The Hangover, except there wasn’t a chicken running around. You’re a fly on the wall. Whatever happens, happens.

I treated the singer Jelly Roll. He’s a bigger boy, definitely a hard IV. I was like, “I’m gonna poke around and see if I can hit a vein.” I missed on the first try—it happens. I’m on the tour bus, thinking, “They’re going to give me one more shot before they kick me out.” The pressure was on. I blasted one, and as soon as I saw the flash of blood that comes when you hit a vein, I was like, “Thank God.”  

This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Jon Barnhill, IV Fluid Therapist.” Subscribe today.