Brrr!

Dad-gummit, I hate cold weather!

After I got up this morning and ate breakfast, I checked the thermometer before going outside to walk. The temperature was 48.

Now I know some of you are gonna laugh and even might be saying “The guy is a WIMP!” I’ll admit to it. I do not like cold weather. Some of it is Cyanosis, but it never really hit me until after I started taking Warfarin.

Warfarin is an anticoagulant, which means it slows down the clotting agents in your blood. One of the side effects is a tendency to feel cooler, so when it starts getting cold, it takes me a couple of days to get used to it. My joints tend to creak and hurt for a day or so, so I just take it easy until I get used to the cooler weather. And actually, I don’t think that’s caused by my heart. A few years ago I fell flat on my back on a cement surface.  I hit the ground so hard my teeth rattled, and I’ve had little aches and pains when the weather turns cold since then. I think all my bones got rattled that day.

Back to Warfarin… Warfarin stands for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, who helped develop the drug, and you may know it better by the brand name: It is usually sold as Coumadin.

It was discovered in the 1920’s completely by accident. Cattle were suddenly dying… a small injury would cause a tremendous amount of bleeding, and the animal would bleed to death. Even stranger, a healthy cow would just suddenly fall over dead, and when they cut him open to try to find the problem, they discovered that the cow had massive internal bleeding. Finally, it was determined that all of the sick cows had eaten a certain type of sweet clover. Cows had been eating clover since there was clover, what was causing the problem?

It was determined that the problem wasn’t the clover itself, it was storing it. Clover that had been stored under the right conditions developed a mold. The mold itself wasn’t poisonous, but it prevented blood from clotting when eaten.

It took nearly 30 years for all this to be figured out, and at first, it was sold as rat poison. But then someone attempted suicide by ingesting the stuff, but they recovered. After this, studies were done to see if it could be used on humans as a blood thinner, and Dwight Eisenhower was one of the first patients to use it.

Warfarin can be some wicked stuff, and you have to be tested to make sure your dosage isn’t too high or too low. Usually your test is once a month, but if the dose has to be changed, you could need to get tested once a week until the new dose takes effect. Don’t panic, you probably aren’t going to cut your finger and bleed to death, but injuries have to be dealt with right then. More than once I’ve nicked myself while shaving and had to clean up a mess. (If you switch to a “three floating head” type of shaver, shaving cuts shouldn’t be a problem anymore.) Warfarin allows you to live an active healthy life, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. If you’re on a high school football team when you are prescribed the drug, you’ll almost certainly have to turn in your pads. You will bruise too easily. I carry an older cell phone that no one makes a holster any more, so it’s in my pocket. One of my personal signs of too much Warfarin is a bruise where that phone taps my leg as I walk. So you can see it is a powerful drug.

Vitamin K affects and is affected by Warfarin, so you have to be careful about your leafy greens. Don’t stop eating them, and don’t start eating more than you usually do. You just have to learn to be consistent about it. Try to have about the same amount at about the same time each week. If you usually have a salad for lunch on Mondays, Monday just may have to become a Salad For Lunch day.

Don’t be scared of the drug, but have respect for it. Millions of people take it everyday and they live great lives. There is no reason you can’t be one of them.

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