A Travel Checklist for Coumadin Patients

A Travel Checklist for Coumadin Patients

I’m getting ready to go on my first “big” trip since my surgery, and while I’m excited for vacation, I’m also a bit nervous. What if I forget something? What if something goes wrong? What if my INR shoots up through the roof and I bleed to death in the hotel room like some wannabe Hollywood burnout?

In the past, I’ve found that making checklists helps me organize not only my stuff but my thoughts as well. So today’s post is as much for me as for you, my fellow cardiac patients. What follows is a list of things to do and to bring with you if you, like me, are about to embark on a journey of more than a couple of days and have a heart that you’d like to keep ticking for many years to come. Continue reading

Anticoagulation & Anger Management

Anticoagulation & Anger Management

When I first began anticoagulation therapy, out-of-range INR readings scared the heck out of me. I was new to this whole thing, and didn’t know how high or low my numbers could go without something bad happening. I also didn’t know how bad that something bad might be. Continue reading

False Alarms: Lessons in Patience and Positive Thinking

False Alarms: Lessons in Patience and Positive Thinking

I remember my symptoms all too well. Chest pain. Back pain. A soreness around the ribs and difficulty breathing deeply, as though I was wearing an invisible corset. Anxiety growing like a cancer in my stomach and my heart.

Which was why, when I experienced similar symptoms a couple of weeks ago, I immediately imagined the worst. Continue reading

Beauty Marks: Scars, Bruises, and Self Image

Beauty Marks: Scars, Bruises, and Self Image

Being fair-skinned and occasionally coordination-challenged means that I have always been quick to bruise. As a kid, black and blue blemishes on my shins and elbows served as constant evidence of having a good time. My knees were perpetually red for years after multiple run-ins with mailboxes while attempting to ride my bike, and though I never got into fisticuffs, or even so much as a slap-fight, with anyone, I still managed to wind up with a black eye one time when I tumbled face-first into the wooden edging of a planter in the front yard.

Being on blood-thinner medication has not exactly improved this facet of my existence. Continue reading

Impossible Dreams: How to Fix an Outdated Bucket List

Impossible Dreams: How to Fix an Outdated Bucket List

Ever see one of those posters with the kitten imagining itself as a tiger and the words “Dream Big” plastered across it like a random bit of fortune cookie advice? That’s pretty much the American dream, right? Shoot for the stars, work hard and believe in yourself, and all your big dreams will come true.

Unless, of course, they don’t. Or worse, can’t.
Continue reading

Dining and Discipline: Diet Tips for Coumadin Patients

Dining and Discipline: Diet Tips for Coumadin Patients

There’s no tougher time for dieting than the holidays. Whether you’ve got serious health restrictions or just trying to lose a couple of extraneous pounds, it’s difficult to maintain one’s sense of discipline when a big, fat turkey dinner is just lounging on the table, waiting for you, singing to you its siren song. “You know you want me,” it whispers seductively — and you do, you really, really do.

Anticoagulation therapy patients are lucky in that ours is a relatively lenient diet. Continue reading

Dreadful Dreaming: Nightmare and Sleep Tips for Cardiac Patients

Dreadful Dreaming: Nightmare and Sleep Tips for Cardiac Patients

As any good doctor will warn you, nightmares are one of the most common side effects of open heart surgery. Anxiety over an upcoming operation, the fear that another might soon follow, bad memories surrounding the first — with so many possibilities, it would be a bit surprising if you didn’t have a disturbing dream or two. But with all the stress of reality, who needs the extra burden of stressful slumber as well?
Continue reading