Apr. 23rd, 2013

mellowtigger: (possum)
People are possum, coon, or some mixture of the two. I'm all possum.

The opossum is a marsupial with three effective methods of deterring predators. They can drop like a corpse, empty their stomach, and empty their bowels. All three behaviors are meant to change their appearance from appetizing meal to unclean filth. Marsupials are very distantly related to apes, and I think the only one of those instincts we share (and not all of us, at that) is the sudden drop in blood pressure that shuts down the central nervous system. In other words, we faint when we detect a threat to our bodies.

injections.20130432My enoxaparin medication needs to be injected into belly fat twice a day. I gave it a good attempt. I laid back in the bathroom so the cool tub on my back and legs could help keep my mind focused. As soon as I smelled a whiff of that sterilizing alcohol, though, the panic immediately set in. I broke out in sweat, got jittery, and probably would have fainted if I wasn't already in a reclining position to help keep blood in my skull. I couldn't bring myself to break my own skin with the very small needle.  I don't remember any nausea or diarrhea (such as an actual opposum would feel) from medical procedures, but I have fainted before... and I've come close to fainting many times.

Luckily, one of my landlords, Michael Vieths, has been able to inject me with my medication each morning and night. We've been following a circle around my belly button with each dose.  I scheduled a visit at a nearby clinic and they showed him how to do it. It's worked out fine. He happens to be studying for a Master's in bioinformatics, so this real-world lab practice might even make him stand out from other students in his field, I don't know.  I lay flat on the sofa, I lightly pinch my belly fat to make a tall enough target to accept the length of the short needle, then he inserts the needle and presses the plunger.  It's gone rather well.  There's far less bruising at the sites than I was expecting.

I also needed his help to pay for the initial batch of syringes.  This one medication costs just shy of $1000 for a 7-day supply.  The hospital mentioned nothing of this cost when they prescribed it (nor did they heed my doubts that I could inject myself).  Now, because my blood serum levels of blood thinner medication suddenly spiked, I'm no longer taking the injections as of this afternoon.  I've got $350 of medication left over that I must not use any more.  That's nearly a month's rent for me... wasted.  Gotta love the American medical system, right?  :(

snow.20130432On the plus side, though, the medication helped.  My pain levels have gone down a lot.  The swelling has gone down almost completely.  I can easily sit upright at this computer terminal for 30 minutes at a time now.  The increased blood pressure in my leg eventually causes enough pain that I move back to my horizontal position on the couch.

I plan to go to work on Wednesday.  Here's the view outside my bedroom window this morning.  We got some more snow last night.  Thankfully, temperatures are rising extraordinarily fast, and almost all the snow has already melted from sidewalks everywhere.  It should be safe for me to use my crutches tomorrow.

Oh, before I forget... I noticed in the bathtub during my attempt to self-inject that merely the whiff of isopropyl alcohol prompts an immediate panic reaction.  Apparently the lifelong experience of clinic injections since infancy has trained my nervous system to recognize that scent as a threat.  I tried on Saturday to do some Pavlovian conditioning on myself.  I took a whiff of the alcohol, ate a spicy dorito, and then repeated again after a few minutes.  I don't think it worked at all.  I still recognize the bloodstream rush of panic when I first scent the disinfectant.  It's a good theory, though.  Maybe it just needs more practice.  Still, though, it's the pain that my nervous system is trying to avoid.  If the process left no tactile sensation at all... I suspect that I could learn to inject myself.

As long as there's pain, though, then the proper autonomic response (for a possum like me) is to reduce blood pressure for an emergency shutdown of the nervous system.  I don't think you can train a possum to be a coon instead.

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