Tuesday, 8 March 2011

You can stop injecting yourself now. . .

Yesterday was a good day. I had an early appointment to see my consultant at Addenbrookes. It is amazing to think it is three weeks now since I was there. It was a beautiful, bright clear morning and I drove for the first time since my stroke.

Addenbrookes seems almost designed to make any given part of it seem inaccessible. I suppose it is because the original building has been added to and added to over the years. It is a great labyrinth of a place now - and still growing.

After the uncertainties of the last few weeks - the constantly changing drug regime and the reluctance of my INR to get to the required level - it was good to be back in the reassuring hands of my consultant. He gives off an aura of having seen it all before and this familiarity is a comfort when so much of it seems new and disconcerting to me.

He did an ultrasound scan of my neck to check on how the artery is now. The only time I can recall having anything to do with one of these machines is when my wife was pregnant, but this seemed a much more swanky piece of kit. It was in colour (simulated coulour), for one thing and when my head was tilted that way, I could see vermilion-coloured blood surging through my arteries in steady pulses. Another setting brought the sound of those pulses, not in a drum beat, but in an unearthly THRUPPP-THRUPPP-THRUPP that changed tone and volume as he moved the device across my neck, explaining that though the tear had been in a rather awkward place to get at, he could tell how the artery was getting on by the level of flow elsewhere.

This was a test I had dreaded somewhat. Right at the beginning, the doctors had explained that medication was the preferred treatment, but that surgery was also an option. Although it was not explicitly said, I suspect that had this not gone well - had the artery not been healing itself - surgery would have been back on the agenda. But it all seemed to fine and I was told to come back in five months.

I had a blood test while I was there. The nurse used the little needles with the flexible tube attached that I had been used to in hospital and as then, she had no problem getting the blood out of me. And because I was there so early, the results were in that afternoon.

One of the warfarin nurses rang me to say that my INR was now 2.2. This was the first time I had been over two since I left hospital and this was good for two reasons: I was now at, or at least near, the prescribed level and I no longer had to inject myself with clexane.

This was such fantastic news. I have a black and purple bruise on my stomach about an inch and a half in diameter and a smaller one on the other side of my navel. I was running out of places to put the needle that weren't already bruised.

I just hope that is the last I see of those syringes.

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