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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Out With the Bad Stuff...

I once got bounced from the blood bank when I fainted at the finger prick anemia test. If memory serves, they gave me a 'nice try' sticker, something fairly patronizing I think. I'm better with needles these days, I guess I kinda have to be.

After my heart attack, some of the drugs they had me on they wanted a quarterly blood check to make sure the meds weren't killing me even faster than my blood lipids. I went from making them lay me down before the draw to being able to sit up while they did it, with only a hint of light headedness provided I didn't look.

These days, I go fortnightly for apheresis. It takes roughly half a day (sometimes it's 3-1/2 hours, sometimes it's more like 5-1/2 hours), and I have to sit still with 18 gauge needles in both arms while they filter my blood. I know I've blogged about this before, so if I'm boring you, well, sorry. But my veins are tricky, and sometimes the lovely and personable RN who does this to me, she'll have to stab my right arm two or three times before things are flowing. Sometimes she has to go down to a 17 gauge needle, sometimes I come away looking like a skid row junkie.

Keep in mind, I'm already trying to watch what I eat. I already take a couple of drugs that control lipids. I have a condition, high LP(a), most folks have never heard of, that causes early onset heart disease. That aforementioned heart attack? I was 32 years old. I needed a double bypass eleven years later. Everyone's got a gift, I guess, and mine is I build plaque like a champion.

So here's before and after shots of the filters my blood percolated through today. The process looks a lot like donating plasma to yourself or maybe similar to dialysis. They took four liters of my blood out, removed a ton of lipoprotein A and LDL cholesterol (and a few other things that have similar charges/chemical bonds). When I was taking the after pic, Jennifer told me she'd had to slow the machine down today because it 'can only filter so much at a time.'

What a gift.

On the up side, after a year scans of my carotid arteries showed a 10% to 12% improvement in atherosclerosis, so besides costing me a lot of money (my out of pocket on my insurance just keeps going up) and wages (it amounts to a half day furlough every two weeks), it's at least moving the needle the right direction on manifestations of the Grim Reaper in my body. Money is nice, but if you're dead it's hard to spend.

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