My well-meaning mother recently got me a book of case studies on the auto-immune disease I was just diagnosed with (APLS). The case studies are about one to two pages each, so it’s generally a quick read and mostly informative. The idea behind the collection is that the doctor who discovered this thing, a Dr. Hughes from London, thinks that it is much more common than people realize, it is often misdiagnosed as other things, and can be easily treated with blood thinners.
All of this is seemingly good news. Still, reading this book has been really bumming me out. I couldn’t put my finger on why, until recently. Reading about these other people reminds me that my life will never be the same. I absolutely have to have blood thinners and medical attention in order to survive. I don’t mean that to sound dramatic, but I did just read about a girl who was hiking through the Outback and dropped dead of a heart attack (in her twenties) because she had this disease, and was managing it with aspirin, not blood thinners, so she got a blood clot in her heart.
This got me thinking…what if I am ever without blood thinners? Will I have more blood clots and have strokes, or die of a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism? These are very depressing thoughts, so I try not to dwell. But it did spark a very practical route of thinking, which was this: I live in the land of earthquakes, and God and the government only know how far away we are from a truly debilitating terrorist attack, and what about the surely inevitable zombie apocalypse? Will I be able to survive without blood thinners? I should have an emergency stash tucked away, in case something tragic happens and I can’t get more from the pharmacy.
This seemed like a reasonable request, and as far as I know, Coumadin is not a controlled substance and it is probably unlikely you can off yourself with it if you had suicidal tendencies (there have to be more efficient ways to get the job done), so I decided to broach the subject with my hematologist. As I’ve stated before, I absolutely love this man. I know it is mutual, because he told me so (not in a creepy way). Being a hematologist means that he is also an oncologist, so his day is consumed with very sick, often terminal, patients who feel and look terrible. By comparison, I am the picture of good health. So when I walk in there and tell him I’m concerned about the zombie apocalypse, I can only imagine that it brightens his day a bit because I am relatively healthy and babbling about nonsense (for fun, not because I’m having another stroke). It is probably a much-needed reprieve from the, literally, life-and-death issues monopolizing his time.
This is how the conversation went today:
Me: I had something I wanted to ask you. I’ve been thinking about having an emergency stash of Coumadin on hand. Because what if there’s an earthquake? Or a terrorist attack? Or the zombie apocalypse? I don’t want to be a victim of Darwin if the zombies come, I’d like to have a fighting chance.
Him: Zombies? I’m not going to say it couldn’t happen (coming from a respected medical professional, this should be a cause of concern for all of you). I’ll write you another prescription.
Me: Thanks. I’ll keep it with a Swiss Army knife and other supplies so I can fight off the zombies.
He chuckles as he writes out a prescription with his back to me.
Me: On second thought, if I’m going to be fighting zombies, I might need a better weapon than a Swiss Army knife.
Him: Yes you will.
So, over the next few weeks, I will be getting more Coumadin, investing in a strong box (or two – probably best to keep one in my car) and perhaps a shotgun or a trident so that I am prepared for all eventualities. My life will never be the same for sure. It’s frustrating to have to consider things that most people don’t have to worry about. But, with some pre-planning and ingenuity, I think I’ll figure it out.
Oh, and I’ll keep you all posted if I hear anything more about the zombies. But you’ll need to bring your own weapons.