Switching to Heparin

A few years ago I discovered that I have Factor V Leiden, when I had a DVT in my left leg. That was fun. After a few days in the hospital and a few months of recovery, I went back to my normal life. Until that fateful day last summer when I peed on a stick (and found myself just a wee bit pregnant), Factor V and I haven’t really kept in touch.
After being officially declared knocked up by the medical profession, it was on to prophylactic Lovenox shots (blood thinner). One daily. I distinctly remember griping about having to shoot up on a daily basis with that tiny needle, and feeling plenty sorry for myself in the process. Especially those days when I jabbed a vein and earned a nice bruise for it.

The basics of a "bruise yourself" kit

The basics of a “bruise yourself” kit

OB initially suggested taking me off Lovenox for 24 hrs come week 39 and immediately induce. I’d prefer to let labor start naturally if I can, so we agreed that I would switch to Heparin (another blood thinner), with twice a day injections. Heparin gets out of your system faster, so if anything comes up or starts early, my treatment options are better.
The doctor held to his bargain of twice a day – but upon reviewing doses and syringes, it became evident that I’d have to do two shots, twice a day.  Doc conveniently let the pharmacist break the news to me, but with 7500 units a day, in syringes that only hold 5000 units and needles that dull after drawing up & one stick through my lizard skin – it was the only option.  Well, I lie. My other option would be using a larger syringe with a sewer pipe sized needle. Oh. Hell. No.
The heparin needle is quite a bit larger than the pre-filled Lovenox, and the first couple of days I didn’t exactly feel like an expert drawing up and injecting, but as with everything you get used to that fast. What I’m not getting used to is the size of the needle, and just about every stick yields bleeding and bruises. Thankfully I have outgrown anything with a proper waistband, and my soft, oversize yoga pants don’t irritate too bad.

18 more days…  not that I’m counting down or anything!!

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Head-up-my-ass week is finally over. Almost.

Oh I’ve been a royal joy to be around for the past few days, on and off. I’m not sure if it’s pregnancy hormones. They probably play a part at least. I mean really, is there anything you can’t blame on these lovely little molecules swirling around in my blood stream? It could also be my inflated, snot filled sinuses, the dreary days of December, holiday stress and the general “I’m fucking over this shit” feeling.

Either way, thankfully I’ve been aware of the thorns sticking out and made sure to get enough rest, chicken soup and generally minimize my exposure to other people. For their own benefit. Sinuses are behaving better now, my chest no longer feels like an elephant is sitting on it, presents for precious little nephews have been bought and mailed, gag gifts for little brothers are out-of-the-way too, and even the toughest gifts of all – for mom and dad. All done, wrapped, sent and shipped.
I’m about 10 years late with the Christmas card production, but making an effort this year to get some out to friends and family, especially back home. The older I get, the mushier I get on the inside, and the more I want to keep in touch with the homeland.

The little Bean in the belly is doing great. She’s kicking up a storm and moving around, enjoying the pool while there is still space to do flip turns and laps. I’m feeling heavier, slower and a little poofed out in general. The blood thinners I inject seem to make me retain fluids, and that combined with pregnancy has started to make for some lovely cankles.  It’s not terrible as of yet and I’m careful to hydrate and keep those feet up while I work on the computer. The expanding belly is also slowly but surely wiping out some of my good injection sites, so the love handles are seeing a lot of action. I’m not bruising too badly yet, since I’ve seem to have developed a decent sixth sense as to where to jab that needle in.

On the home front, the husband is in full-blown nesting mode. We finally tore out the saggy wire shelves in the closet and installed some Algot shelves from IKEA.  Now I’m a multi-year veteran of IKEA productions and assembly and this damn thing almost did me in. While it’s extremely modular and adaptable – and exactly what I needed for my oddly shaped, weirdly sized closet, designing and buying it was no joke. Essentially you need a PhD in “closetry” to be able to come home with all the right parts in the right quantities to get the job done.  This weekend I’ll be making my 3rd trip to IKEA to exchange bits and pieces.  On the bright side I get to visit the IKEA restaurant sit down some tasty Swedish food and a book for a little  break, my favorite part :)

Damn you, Factor V Leiden

Were I a superhero, I’d have a really cool  name (still picking), definitely a cape and most likely a tight, slimming outfit that made me look both sexy and dangerous. Because otherwise, really, what is the point? Every superhero worth their super-salt also needs to have a nemesis – and I’m all set in that department. I’m currently, chronically and forevermore engaged in a struggle (at times a vicious battle) with Factor V Leiden.  The V is a roman 5, pronounced Factor FIVE Leiden, adding to the mystique of the villain.

So who is Factor V?  The short answer is that it is a genetic condition that increases the tendency of blood clotting, causing blood clots, more specifically DVT’s (deep vein thrombosis). Blood clots can be pesky little bastards, causing anything from inconvenience to death, depending on the location of the clot.
This gene mutation is more common in northern Europe and was originally discovered in the town Leiden in Holland. I am Icelandic and therefore obviously come from a long line of heroic vikings. I can see the benefits of clotting quickly back in the days when axes and long-swords were used to settle disagreements, but in this day and age, it’s just annoying.

In my case, the diagnose was made after I had a DVT a few years back, and that sucker is now on my permanent record in the health care system. No amount of ‘doing time’ will erase that felony. Pregnancy is considered a risk factor – to both me and the baby – so for the duration and for 6 weeks after delivery, I inject myself daily with blood thinners. That part is not fun, but done for a very good cause so I keep the cussing to a minimum. Except when I manage to jab a vein and end up with a chicken-egg sized bruise – then I swear liberally because that shit hurts.
For the record, I’d like to state that I mostly cuss in Icelandic, to protect my unborn child from foul language (earning me a multitude of good parent points).

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy fatty-pants.