I’m still in the hospital and it looks like I may be here for a few days more. I think the steam from my ears set off the local smoke detector (though, with all the beeping around here, who would have heard it?) To understand why requires a little background information.

A Little Background Information

People with coronary artery disease should always know their cholesterol levels. Diabetics should know their blood glucose levels. And people with heart valves and other cardiac prothstetics need to know their PT/INR number. In the early days of artificial heart valves (way, way back in the 1960s) researchers were finding a statistically significant group of patients were “stroking out” – dying of strokes – caused by blood clots forming on the artificial material. By prescribing blood thinners these strokes could be strongly mitigated (but not completely eliminated). This is serious stuff – it’s not like not taking your Viagra. If a clot occurs on the valve you might get enough time to say “good bye” (then again, you might not). The measure of how “thin” the blood is called the “PT/INR” or usually “INR” for short. The target range is set on an individual basis by one’s doctor from 2.0 to 3.5. My personal range is from 2.5 to 3.5. For those who are interested, “PT/INR” stands for “Prothrombin Time and International Normalized Ratio”. (hey, you asked)

For my medically inclined relatives and friends a good paper describing the need for anticoagulants is here.


This morning I was informed that my INR needs to be in range before I leave; it was 1.7! As a precaution I was taken off my blood thinners when I came in through the ER incase surgery was indicated. The infuriating part is that they are being very, very, very conservative bringing it back up to a normal level. I could be potentially be here another four days doing nothing but waiting for my blood to thin – a prospect to drive anyone around the bend.

To Pass The Time

Installing the PICC line

As you can see by the look on my face I’m feeling like my old self again.
Picture by Judy Lillis

I had the PICC line installed today. All that meant was they snaked a tube in my vein from my arm to just above my heart so I can get daily doses of IV antibiotics for the next four weeks. It took them three tries until the doctor was satisfied (the same doctor that announced my incarceration this morning). We will be having a “home healthcare aid” give us instructions on cleaning and use of the PICC line when we get home. Judy has graciously allowed herself to be deputized to hook it up.

Sheesh! The things I do to stay alive!

The Punchline

I’m otherwise feeling really good. Lots of energy and anxious to get back to my schoolwork. I spent much of today catching up with homework and writing and hope tomorrow to do some studying for next week’s exams (on the hope I’m sprung by then). Thanks for all the well wishes and I hope to see you when I make parole.

Tom IV