Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Old Man Draws a Graph

So, before his appointment with the GP this morning, The Old Man is assembling his INR/Warfarin printouts. (Beautifully held together with a piece of string through a punched hole.) Coupled with a meticulously drawn graph, that The Old Man produced yesterday evening, tracing his INR level since his return home from Hospital.

The reason for this activity is the GP Surgery's phoned-in blood test result last night - reporting a raised INR level (again) but at the same time keeping him on a daily 3mg dose of Warfarin with another fortnight to wait before his next test.

So you can see. The Old Man is fore-arming himself for another set-to and a hows-yer-father with the medical trade.

What are you talking about? say you. What is this medical gobbledy-gook?

OK. Basically, INR is to do with the time it takes for your blood to clot - the higher the figure - the longer the time that it takes to clot. And the dosage of the anti-clotting drug is derived from a formula, based on the blood INR level. (If you can cope with technicalities you can find an explanation by clicking HERE)
Warfarin is the drug that controls this clotting factor in The Old Man's case. The Old Man needs this medication because of the artificial valve they gave him. Don't want blood to clot and mess it up, I guess. But at same time you can't run around with blood so unclotting that you bleed to death if you cut your finger. OK. Maybe a bit melodramatic on the explanation front. BUT it explains the dilemma over getting the drugs and the clotting time in balance.

Back to this morning.

The GP is duly shown the documentary evidence as to why The Old Man needs bloodtests more frequently than two weeks apart. And the aforesaid graph that shows his INR levels .... going up and down like the proverbial yo-yo. The GP agrees.

But it would also appear that "someone" has altered The Old Man's target INR level from the one that the Hospital issued him with. They have lowered it a fraction. But.... who or when or why.... could not be traced on the computer. (The Old Man, as an ex-Civil Servant, mutters darkly about "The Treasury Model" which, in his book, is a formula that allows for the result that you want as long as you know which figures to feed in to it.)

Whatever - the GP has now written in BIG CAPITALS that The Old Man is to have blood tests twice a week until stability has been achieved. And we shall see if this has any effect on things in practice.

Once again I say. Be vigilant. Our National Health Service is a lifesaver. But take responsibility for what's dished out to you. Don't accept everything handed to you or explained to you on the basis that "They Know Best". A system is only a system.

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