Jan. 3rd, 2017

luscious_purple: scribal blot (scribal icon)
Do you know why the TV commercials for the newfangled blood thinners (the ones that are supposed to replace Coumadin/warfarin) always warn patients to tell their doctors if they plan any spinal anesthesia? I'll tell you why.

Twenty years ago today, my mother went to the regional hospital to have an infection drained from one of her knee joints. Since she had a mechanical heart valve, she had to be careful about infections. (She was also taking warfarin for that.) On top of that condition, she was battling both congestive heart failure and COPD, so the doctors thought that she should have spinal anesthesia rather than general anesthesia. It would be better for her cardiopulmonary system, they said.

Unfortunately, the doctors didn't know that Mom had a small blood clot somewhere inside her spinal column. It probably resulted from a fall on the bedroom floor -- a fall not big enough to break any bones, mind you, just enough to shake her up. At any rate, when the doctors withdrew a tiny amount of spinal fluid to make room for the anesthetic, the clot swelled up and pressed on her spinal cord, causing her lots of pain and disorientation and making her unable to move her legs. And thus started her final downhill slide.

(Later, when her primary care physician phoned me after her funeral to see how I was doing, he said that his father had died under virtually identical circumstances. Over the years, doctors have wised up to this potential side effect of blood thinners, probably because of accumulated similar experiences.)

The more you know, etc. etc.

July 2017

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