Wednesday, January 23, 2008

As Bloody Fingers Clutch My Heart

I was the source of much consternation for half-a dozen doctors in three hospitals. As is my nature, I was not responding the way they liked, despite their best efforts.
The diuretics worked fine although after several days I still had fluid in my lungs and my heart still hadn’t calmed down anywhere near enough.

It had to be slowed even more and that meant breaking out the heavy artillery, digoxin. It’s a refined form of digitalis and it comes from the foxglove plant. Fortunately, I mustered enough sense to respond to it and was only on it a few days.

Meanwhile, rat poison takes a while to kick in so I had to be on twice daily injections of a faster-working anti-coagulant. It was to act as a bridge until the Coumadin took effect.
Needles are a fact of life. I refuse to let them bother me unless they’re to go somewhere unexpected.
“It’s injected in the stomach,” came the cheery news from my nurse.
Oh. No. It. Isn’t.

Either she read my mind or expected my reaction because she added very quickly that it was a simple subcutaneous shot. A quick pinch and it’s done. I had it morning and night for six days and it was as easy as a needle in the arm. The only downside was we were running out of injection sites.
I bruise easily anyway, add in a blood thinner and there’s simply no challenge. As long as I didn’t do much it was okay, but one day I got dressed in real clothes and Mike and I went outside for a walk. Pressure from the waist of my jeans was enough to leave a good-sized blue mark on my abdomen. It kept growing even after I’d changed back to the gown. Soon I was blue on the right side from waist to leg.
I told the nurse and we decided we’d watch it. Eventually she took a felt pen and drew a circle around the area where the flesh was raised and rigid, just in case it grew more.

By the time I left I had blotchy blue spots all over my abdomen and I expected to enjoy their company for quite some time. Bruises take forever to heal on me. Eight years ago during a trip to Australia I rode a camel for an hour and was bruised from thigh to knee for three months afterward.
I expected these marks would last at least that long. I’d been warned they’d take longer to heal because of the rat poison.
I did not respond as expected. They healed faster than usual. They were gone in two weeks and I still had a weeks’ worth of Coumadin to get through.
If you’re wondering about the post title, in the past one of the common, local names for foxglove was bloody fingers. (Ray Buckland, Witchcraft From The Inside, Llewellyn Publications, 1995, p.181)


the Bag Lady said...

Thank you for explaining the title!! The Bag lady was a little confused...easily done, of course.

That easy bruising thing must be yet another family trait. Add into that how clumsy the Bag lady is, and she always has at least one bruise somewhere on her body.

Glad to hear your bruising went away unexpectedly quickly, you contrary little thing, you!

Reb said...

Yes, I second the bag lady's comment. I too have had months long bruising, it is no fun. The belly needles are weird though especially when you are the one doing them.

Leah J. Utas said...

Reb and Baggie - I suspect it might be a family trait. I get most bruises on my legs and started keeping track when I was seven. Up until a few months ago I could always, without exception, find a bruise somewhere on a leg.

NB - There's no way I could pass up a chance to title a post the way I did.

Anonymous said...

You explained the title, but somehow I seem to have missed the "rat poison" reference. Did I sleep through an entry?

Leah J. Utas said...

Hello Holly. The anti-coagulant Coumadin is better known as Warfarin. It was originally developed as a rodent poison and is still used that way.

Anonymous said...

Aaahh! Thanks!