warfarin

Jun. 13th, 2013 11:03 pm
mellowtigger: (possum)
[personal profile] mellowtigger
I've been forgetful lately. I haven't been eating my rat poison like I'm supposed to do.

I'm taking warfarin (aka coumadin) on prescription. It's named after the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation which funded the research into what substance was causing some cows in northern farms to bleed to death in the 1920s after having their horns or testicles cut off. It turns out that ranchers in areas like Wisconsin were using sweet clover to make food for their cattle. Sweet clover (like sweet grass and sweet woodruff) produces large amounts of coumarin which gives off a sweet smell when the plant is cut. Coumarin also happens to be an anticoagulant. The cattle were eating lots of it, and it prevented normal clotting of their blood. They bled out when injured, and if they ate enough of it then they died spontaneously of internal hemorrhaging.

Vitamin K cycleWarfarin does not dissolve existing clots; it just helps to prevent the body from growing a clot. It is prescribed by doctors to people like me for many months while we wait for our body's immune system to naturally (but very slowly) disassemble the clot. It's also used in larger quantities as a poison to induce internal hemorrhaging in animals like rats. So, yes, I am technically eating rat poison. Or, at least I'm supposed to be.

I've mentioned before that my memory and concentration do not work nearly as well when I'm stressed out. I've already had to change my diet suddenly to eliminate all of those healthy green leafy vegetables that I was training myself to eat more of. Those foods happen to be high in Vitamin K1. The human body uses that vitamin in the production of molecules that promote blood clotting, then those molecules are later recycled back into Vitamin K which can be used for additional clotting. Warfarin works by stopping that recycle process, slowly draining the body of its vitamin supply. By adding more vitamin K to my blood stream, those foods would negate the usefulness of warfarin. So I have to avoid them. I saw a salad at work today, and I started to crave it. I keep wondering if it would it be okay to add greens back to my diet if those greens were sweet clover.  Wait... I was talking about stress, wasn't I?

In addition to diet change due to health problems, I've also had medical debt, car loss, and the joys of public transit to contend with. Then on Tuesday last week, my employer fired a coworker so now I've also been working longer hours on no-longer-familiar tasks. My sleep and eat schedule have changed a lot in response to these new demands. I'm not surprised that I forgot my medication on 3 out of 7 days. Bad mistake, it turns out.

I can tell when my rat poison levels have dropped. I suddenly can feel the clots again. I say clots, plural, because I can feel both the original muscle injury site in my calf (a sharp knife sensation) and the spot underneath my knee (the broader press-on-nerve sensation where the pain got so bad that it motivated me to visit the hospital emergency room back on April 18th). I'm guessing that the clot in my calf broke off and floated up the vein where it got caught in the joint under my knee. It was lucky for me that it stuck there, since it didn't flow higher to reach my lungs, heart, or brain. In theory, it still could break off again, but assuming that I stay properly medicated and don't easily permit additional clotting, then I might be off of my warfarin medication in October.

I need a vehicle. It would make my life a lot easier right now, and I could use a good break in what has been a not-so-great year.  I think I've had enough of "change" for a while.

Yes, I did eat my rat poison this evening.
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