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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Great Coumadin Adventure

Dad has to change his meds because he is having surgery.  One of his meds is Coumadin, which keeps his blood from clotting so he doesn't get more strokes like last year.  But he also has "mild" bladder cancer so periodically they need to remove growths from his bladder.  When he has surgery they need his blood to clot, but still want to avoid strokes so the Coumadin Clinic at our local VA Hospital changed his meds for the week before and the week after his surgery.

They mailed them to us, pre-filled syringes, big nasty looking spring loaded syringes that I have no idea how to use. Syringes on steroids!  His dementia is getting worse so there is a real possibility that I might have to give him these injections.

Last week we are at the hospital and as we went from appointment to appointment they all told me the Coumadin Clinic could help me learn how to give Dad the injections just in case. So when we were done with all appointments I went there (to the infamous Coumadin Clinic) with Dad and he told me no one is ever there. I didn't believe him.

But I walked into the clinic and it was a ghost town, lights behind the windows were off. The people waiting said no one was there. So I went to find someone. No one was there anywhere.  When I found someone in a room with an open door, she was upset because she was with a patient and I interrupted them. (If the door was closed I never would have knocked) and she assured me that someone was in the clinic.  I said, no, I looked and tumble weeds were blowing through the corridors.  Nope, she was sure they were and walked me back to the ghost town.  Surprise! No one was there and she then directed me to pharmacy. They could help me, she was sure of it.

The woman at the pharmacy window said of course a pharmacist could help me. She walked me up to a pharmacist and explained everything. Then I was assured I would be shown how to use the evil looking syringe when she was done with something.  I stood there, in front of the pharmacist where I was told to wait while she finished up on the computer.

She finished and made a phone call to the Coumadin Clinic, then somewhere else. She hung up and looked at me and said there was no one in the Coumadin Clinic. If I could have shot her with LASER beams from my eyes she would be dead now. I said I knew that and I was told (in front of you and I know you heard it too because there was a conversation that included you) that she would help me. She said no I would have to wait a half hour for everyone to come back from lunch.

I had the good sense to push (Dad was in a wheelchair so it is okay that I pushed him) out of the hospital and got to the car before I screamed and lost it.  I managed to get him to put his coat on and had him wait inside while I got the car.  I had the best parking spot.  I could have easily pushed his wheelchair to the car but I needed to vent.  I unlocked the door, slammed it and screamed at the top of my lungs before I even put the key near the ignition.  That helped!

Next I found a Celtic Thunder song I liked and turned up the radio real loud and I sang along to the song also very LOUDLY!  I think I did three or four laps around the parking lot before I picked up Dad.  I was seriously mad and needed to calm down.  It almost worked.   If the bus hadn't cut me off on the way to lunch and visiting Mom I would have been almost perfect.

The best part of this story is the next morning the Coumadin Clinic called me on my cell phone.  They apologized for not being there and assured me that they almost always have people staffing the clinic. I guess it is just a coincidence that when we go there it is a ghost town.  I set up an appointment to be trained on the following Monday and luckily when I went in there were people there.

I now know how to use the syringe, plus many friends offered to help me if I needed help.  I am nervous, I need to get these meds right.  I need to get him to surgery and back to the Coumadin Clinic after surgery (they had better be there!) and then home.  This is the first time he will have this surgery without Mom there to wake up to.

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