Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rat Killer is Awesome, so I take it every day!

So a while back I explained my experience having my DVT clot, and my Heroes mutated condition, homozygous factor five leiden, that makes me "super clotting girl." Although most pain from the clot subsided after 7-8 months, the main difference in my life was my new friend,...the rat killer, coumadin.

After doctors discover that anyone has a clot, the nice doctors make you take blood thinners. Beginning blood therapy is the desired first round of treatment for a DVT clot, despite any genetic disorders one may have. The blood thinners will hopefully slowly break down the clot until it all but dissolves. I say hopefully because some clots get worse before breaking down and must be injected with a special protein that rapidly breaks down a clot. Unfortunately there are only 5 -7 of these special proteins that rapidly break down blood clots. Therefore, beginning on blood therapy first, is the desirable approach, barring any emergencies. So, like with most, my doctors began my treatment to break down the clot with the blood thinners.

To begin the blood thinning therapy, first you inject yourself into your stomach with heparin. You may have heard of heparin as the medication that has recently been on the news because of its accidental overdosing of infants in the hospital. Dennis Quade's twins were given to much heparin after their birth and almost died. Heparin, itself sounds dangerous enough, but after the heparin, comes the coumadin.

But wait, after they begin you on the injectible medication and the coumadin, they also torture you by taking your blood, first every other day, then every two days, then twice a week, and finally once a month. I don't know if you know this, but taking blood thinners (which, heparin and coumadin both are) you tend to bruise, very easily. So having your arms, hands, wrists, etc. stuck with a needle to draw your blood for a test leaves your arms looking lovely. The blood test that is necessary to measure what I like to call my blood's consistency, is called PT/INR.

As I said, like others with a DVT clot, blood thinning therapy is the way to go. However, after the doctors realize that you have my factor five leiden mutation disorder, they decide that you get to take coumadin FOREVER, da, da daaaaa. That's right rat thinner and monthly blood tests are my way of life. Plus side, I am over my fear of needles. The initial injections I gave myself and the blood tests make me hardly even flinch whenever I see a needle. Negative, taking rat poison has, as one may think, lots of side effects.

Side effects page from the pharmacy is seriously two pages. They include things like, bruising, dry mouth, excessive sweating, chills, blood shot eyes, hemorrhage, and that I eating Vitamin K enriched foods will cause the medicine to work less effectively. Vitamin K enriched foods include all dark green vegetables, like broccoli, spinach, kale, green beans, lettuce, etc. You try dieting, while being sure to limit your lettuce intake.

Not only is my vegetable intake affected, but as you can imagine, taking blood thinner also affects your alcohol intake. However, with this new drug and its interactions and blood tests, also comes with a special doctor, the hematologist. Luckily, my awesome hematologist showed me that I can do lots of things on my rat killer, like balance my Vitamin K greens to the medicine; meaning that I must maintain a weekly steady amount of greens every week and allow the medicine to adjust to my intake. Like with the greens, I balance the intake of alcohol over the week and have the medicine adjust to this intake. What is hilarious is that I have to drink alcohol consistently if I am going to drink at all. It has to be a balanced amount. My friends find it hilarious that I have to drink alcohol consistently with the medicine so not to mess up my PT level. I just find it fabulous.

In this vain, I have learned to balance the rat killer with the amount of alcohol that I have. More greens make the blood more thick, if I drink more alcohol. I would definitely not recommend this kind of balancing act, but it has been working for me. My PT/INR tests have been very steady and luckily I have made it through almost 2 years straight of taking the rat killer without any complications.

By the way, when I call it a rat killer, I am not exaggerating. My always truthful friend, Wikapedia says it all: Coumadin, that is also known as, "warfarin was first registered for use as a rodenticide in the US in 1948, and was immediately popular".

For more information on yours and my favorite rat killer, see the US Dept. of Health and Human Services information link: