If it’s Thursday, it must be Blood Day

Tomorrow, as usual, I’m heading to town. I usually get groceries on Thursdays. And while I’m in town, I’ll swing by my local hospital and have my blood checked.

It can be a pain in the neck, (the arm, actually) but if you have a CHD, you come to think of it as “one of those things.” Into every life a little blood work will fall. My local hospital is a small, 130 bed facility, that can’t handle my heart problems. Don’t get me wrong, they are good at what they do. But 90% of the stuff they see is broken legs, infections, and requests for blood work. If I have a serious enough problem to require hospitalization, I probably won’t be a patient here.

The nurses all know me; they are a fun group of people. So I’ll be greeted by name when I walk into the lab. My usual tests are a CBC – Complete Blood Count, in which the level of nearly everything you can think of is measured. Red blood cells, white blood cells, hemoglobin, and a dozen other readings are measured. If something goes wrong in your body, it will usually show itself by changes in your blood chemistry, so this is why I have this test.

I also have a test the Lab techs refer to as “protime” — at least, that is what it sounds like. I’m take a blood thinning drug, and it is monitored monthly. If the Anticoagulation Center that my ACHD doc works with determines that I need to either increase or lower my dose of blood thinner, they will call me before the day is out. I have no idea why it is called a protime test, but if being a pro means getting a needle shoved up your arm, I’ll gladly remain an amateur! As i said, it is usually a monthly test, but lately I’ve been getting that checked every two weeks. I’m changing an unrelated medication, and the change causes the protime numbers to do weird things.

The results of a protime test are reported as the INR number. INR stands for International Normalization Ratio. In the past there was no set standard for reporting the results, a test at one lab may result in a score of 75, while a test at another may score a 2.6. So they put their heads together at the World Heath Organization and decided on a standard, the INR number.

Before they stick you the Lab Tech will ask you for your name and your birthday and compare it to the form the computer just printed for them. Occasionally I refuse, saying that I tell them this every time I come in but no one has sent me a birthday card yet. You can get away with that if the Lab isn’t too busy and you have a smile on your face. Occasionally on holidays I’ll throw another answer out there (“Paul Revere, July 4, 1776!”) but when the lab tech offered to bend me over the table and take the sample from my… hip, I figured I had just about worn that joke out.

When you have a Congenital Heart Defect, it’s not really the big things that bother you. It’s understood that I might need surgery in the future, but until then, what can I do? I exercise and try to stay in decent shape; and I’ll deal with that when (and if) the time comes. I’ve found that it’s the little things that really bug me. These blood tests take about half an hour, at the most. And I work it into my usual schedule so I don’t have to make a special trip. But it is just the idea of it… I’ll be doing this once a month forever. You always have to get that blood checked. You always watch your sodium and your liquids.

If you let it get to you it gets depressing. So you look at it as a step in accomplishing your goals. If I want to stick around long enough to meet that perfect woman, I’ll get that blood test. If I want to have the house and the picket fence, I’ll turn down that awesome dessert.

I do what I have to do to defeat the evil that is inside of me.

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2 Responses to “If it’s Thursday, it must be Blood Day”

  1. It’s a Good Day in my Neighborhood! « Adventures of a Funky Heart! Says:

    […] been a good day here. In fact, I got a head start on it Friday when I learned that the blood work I had done Thursday looked good. This is really good news, especially from the Anticoagulation Clinic. If your INR is […]

  2. Treehousedweller Says:

    Hey – I have a CoaguChek – a finger pricker tester that I keep at home (and theoretically use monthly – though I have since discovered that my strips are 2months expired!! – woops). ALL CHDers should have one. They give them out in NZ for children – but since I too come under the pediatric services and have a phobia of needles – and I talked sweetly to them – they gave me one. If you are disciplined (and you sound more so than I am) then it’s a great way to keep a check on your INR.

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