I stabbed myself in the stomach about eight times last week – I did it purposely too! No, I wasn’t trying to commit suicide with a very small knife, needing multiple injuries to be effective. Nor was I practicing on myself, prior to using the method on someone who had annoyed me in the past!
The fact is, as many of you in the same situation will have guessed, I was self-injecting myself with Clexane, because I was about to have a tooth extracted. I am also taking regular daily doses of Warfarin to counter the effects of mild atrial fibrillation, (a disease of the heart affecting mainly, older members of the community such as me).
Warfarin, (which is also used as a rat poison, in much larger doses than those offered in the medicinal form), is a drug used to thin the blood and help avoid clots in the arteries. These can be very dangerous if they break away from wherever they are sitting and move up to and into the heart, causing heart attacks and sometimes, death!
This is a great result, which keeps many of us alive and healthy for many more years than we would have enjoyed without it, but there is a problem. Cut yourself, scratch yourself, play with your cat or, as in my case, need to have a tooth removed and a problem arises! In normal life, all of these situations cause you to bleed a little, which is no bother at all… just cover it with a plaster, wrap a bandage round it for a while or dab a bit of Vaseline on it and all will be well. Even having a tooth out only needs the victim to hold a wad of cotton wool over the hole for half an hour, until the bleeding stops. But Warfarin takers live in a slightly different world, not the world of the haemophiliac, but somewhere between that and being ‘normal’. Even a small scratch can bleed quite profusely, for much longer than usual, and a tooth can be a real problem, presenting as a wound that is larger in any context.
And this is where the week spent stabbing myself in the stomach comes in. Clexane has some sort of reversing effect on the clotting capabilities of the blood, while still not inhibiting the work done by the Warfarin. Don’t ask me how this is done as I have absolutely no idea! All I know is that you can’t have dental treatment, or any other surgical procedure involving cutting the patient, without it! Maybe one of you dear readers out there is a dentist, or an expert in the workings of such drugs – I’d love to hear your explanation, if you’re out there somewhere!
Actually, the injecting, (stabbing!), isn’t much of a problem. In all the injections I shot into myself during that week before visiting the dentist, not one of them hurt at all; my main problem, because I don’t have quite the slim, graceful figure of my youth, was that I needed a little guidance from Jacqui to find a spot I hadn’t injected already, something that apparently needs to be avoided, because a new injection over an old one can cause some sort of crystallisation, (something else I don’t understand at all!). Apparently each injection site presents a bruise a day or so after the deed is done, plus I got Jacqui to apply a small plaster on each puncture as soon as I made it, all to help avoid ‘doubling-up. For some reason, all the injections have to be made in the lower, fatty part of the abdomen between the navel and the crutch, an area that gets used up fairly quickly, so that by the end of the week there is a slight inclination to creep above that navel line, something that didn’t actually seem to cause any harm.
Anyway the tooth is now out, I have completed the course of Clexane and I am well on the way towards getting my Warfarin dosage in balance again. I guess all this inconvenience is just another way of arriving at the price we have to pay for staying alive longer than our ancestors did!
Have you had to self-inject medications before? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below…