Friday, April 22, 2011

3226 Blood

Friday, April 22, 2011

That which one man receives without working for,
another man works for without receiving.
-- Kenneth W. Sollitt --


When I was in the hospital, they took blood several times a day, and I had the stupid IV in constantly.

I don't do well with holes poked in me.

I and my siblings have a problem. It's a little bit different for each of us, and to a different degree for each, but we three girls and two boys all have it. We bruise very easily. When we were small, the doctors thought it was a clotting problem, some type of hemophilia.**

For me, it manifested itself as nose bleeds. My nose bled constantly. Literally constantly. Getting hit by the father didn't help, but even when there was no hitting it bled. Sometimes heavily, but mostly it just seeped blood, which would dry and clot as it seeped. I'd wake every morning with obstructing clots and huge dried scabs in my nose, and I'd have to clean them out just to breathe.

By the time I started high school I had a hole clear through the septum. In high school we lived on the base and I was addicted to APCs, and that certainly didn't help.

Cleaning out my nose every morning for the past 55 years, and flaring them to breathe when I couldn't clean them, might explain why my nostrils are so large.

Until my daughter was born when I was thirty-one, my menstrual periods were what is now known to be hemorrhagic. Ten days minimum with tea-cup sized clots. I don't know why her birth changed that - I'd had three miscarriages and a stillbirth prior with no effect. Maybe a full term delivery "cauterized" the uterus?

It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I got a more reasonable answer. I have fragile capillaries. They break and leak at the slightest provocation. The nose is loaded with fine capillaries, and that's why it bled. I constantly have mysterious bruises on my thighs and hips, which is one reason why my legs from the ankle up never see the light of day. When I was in my twenties and thirties, I'd often get huge bruises behind my knees, just from crossing my legs or sitting in a too-high or too-deep chair that put pressure behind my knees.

In my late twenties I discovered another problem. When someone pokes a hole in a vein, like to draw blood or put in an IV, sometimes, but not always, my veins go into spasm. When they do, it burns literally like fire until the IV or whatever is removed. The worst part is that the phlebotomist doesn't believe me that it hurts that bad. One time I woke up after surgery with an IV that had been put in while I was "out", and I woke to my right arm being held in a fire. I cried and cried, begged and begged, but they wouldn't remove it. Imagine a white-hot branding iron being held to your skin for two hours. That's really what it felt like.

When the vein goes into spasm, you can't draw blood. Not enough, anyway. And often when it spasms and rolls, the poke goes all the way through the vein. The only place that consistently works for drawing blood is the back of my hand, with a pediatric butterfly. And I get very annoyed with nurses who don't believe me, and have to stick my arm painfully three or four times before they give up and listen to me. The bruises from those abortive sticks wrap all the way around my arm and are spectacular, but they don't appear until two or three days later, so the perpetrator rarely gets to see them.

There's another almost-but-not-quite amusing side effect. When doctors look in my nose, they assume I'd been using cocaine. Cocaine use will erode the septum, exactly as mine is eroded. A few have asked, but most don't - I just notice an immediate change in attitude when they look in my nose. I have to bring it up and explain that I have never touched cocaine, it's fragile capillaries, and I think some don't believe me.

So. Now the urologist wants more blood.

Sigh. Why does everyone assume it's so easy? Not a big deal? I'd rather have a baby out in the fields.


**It's weird that doctors decided that for my brothers it was a mild form of hemophilia - without, by the way, doing any testing - but said it was impossible for us girls to have hemophilia, because only boys get it. Well, they were wrong on all counts. Of course it isn't hemophilia that we have. But even if it was, girls can have it! There are many clotting factors, and a few are not sex linked, and a lack of any one of them can cause the problem. Secondly, even if it is the classic sex-linked form, factors VIII and/or IX, girls can still have it if the mother is a carrier, and the father is too! It's rare, but rare doesn't mean impossible. And it's only rare because in the past hemophiliac males didn't generally live long enough to become fathers. It's becoming more common.


Badass Nature Girl said...

I wonder if the saline nasal rinses would do you some good or just irritate things more?

That sounds like my MIL, she bruises easily and badly. It's painful to even look at them.

Becs said...

I would march myself back to the bitch who didn't believe me three days later and say, "See? See, you cow? Don't do it again."

I get bruises all over me but I've never had a nosebleed in my life. At the start and end of menstruation in my life, the periods were very heavy. Toward the end, I had one doctor repeatedly ask me if I was pregnant until I said, "Not if a nice Jewish boy like you believes in immaculate conception."

It's so annoying for people not to believe we've figured out our bodies.