A Small Yearly Checkup

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What is this device for.

This device is for checking the thickness of my blood.
Or in other words, to check the anti-clotting value.
Let me try to explain this.

If you had read my earlier posts, you know that I had two heart operations.
The first operation was to remove my leaking aorta heart valve and replace it with a mechanical heart valve.
(The second operation was to replace the mechanical heart valve with a new one.)
One of the disadvantages of this mechanical heart valve is, that for as long as I have it, I need to take some medication for it.

One of the medications is a blood thinner.
This medication makes the blood thinner and prevents the clotting of the blood.

The mechanical heart valve is a “foreign object” and it is possible that the blood will or can stick to it.
This is not good.
To prevent this, they make the blood thinner by medication.

One of the side effects is, that I bruise quickly.
The other is, that every two to three weeks, I need to check the thickness of my blood.
So this device will tell me the thickness of my blood (INR) and according to that, the lab will tell me how many tablets I need to take on which days.

The range that I need to be in is between 2.0 and 3.0
If I am too high or too low, then I need to check it again after one week.
If it is ok, then I have two to three weeks before I need to check it again.

A Small Yearly Checkup.

Once a year, they want to have a small technical check of the device.

They also want to see if I do the right steps or procedures.
And they check if the device still is accurate.
They do this together with one of their own devices.
One that is checked and calibrated.

If there is a big difference in values between their device and mine, then they will give me a new one, and the old one they take it back for an overhaul.

A little bit uncomfortable.

Since the start of this Covid-19 pandemic, I tried to stay away from certain places.
Like the doctor, pharmacy, and hospital.
Because I belong to the group of people that have a high risk of catching the virus.

To stay away from the doctor is ok.
Nowadays a lot can be done online.
So that is no problem.

The pharmacy, I only go there to restock my medications.
And if I go there, then I will try to stay there as short as possible.

The hospital, so far also ok.
I already had canceled the procedure for the kidney stone removal.
And luckily, my first upcoming checkup in the hospital will be at the end of July.
So I hope that by that time, things will be better.

But now I need to go for that yearly technical checkup.
This is taking place in the same building as my doctor.
It will be done by an organization called SALTRO.
It is some kind of national laboratory.

I had checked with them if there are things that I need to know or be aware of.
But they told me that I don’t need to worry.
There will be a plexiglass shield between us and I can put my hand under it.
I also need to make sure, that I don’t come too early or too late.

So I felt a little bit better, but still, in the back of my mind, there is that small worry.

The Check.

I was on time.
And it looked very safe.

I saw, that before I had to enter the room, they had cleaned everything properly.
They had clean the chair, placed a new table cover, and cleaned the plexiglass shield, and she had put on new gloves.

I felt a bit better once I saw this.

The check itself is not much.
I will take out my device from his case.
Prepare the lancing device and testing strips, and they give me a band-aid.
Place the test strip in the device and wait until the device will give the signal that it is ready.

When the device is ready, I use the lancing device to prick myself in my finger.
Put a drop of blood on the test strip.
At the same time, they also will get some blood and place it on their device.
And then we wait for the results of both devices.

I was lucky.
Both devices were giving the same values.
So my device is still working the way it should.

After all of this, they will make a new appointment already, for next year.
Later that day, I also would get an email with my schedule of how many tablets I need to take on which day.
And over three weeks, I need to check my blood again.

When I left, she cleaned everything again and prepared for the next person.

What Else.

There are still more things I need to keep an eye on because of this blood thinner.

Trying to prevent the eating of things that have vitamin K.
Well, you cannot always prevent that, but I need to keep an eye on it that I don’t eat too much of that kind of foods.
For instance, bananas.

They contain a lot of vitamin K.
This makes the blood thicker.
So now and then a little bit is ok.

Also if I get a bruise, I need to keep an eye on it, that it is not getting or is too big.
If the blood is thin, it is easy to get a big bruise.
If it is bigger then a 5 euro cents, then I need to inform the lab.
So they can adjust the medication schedule.

If I have a procedure where there is blood loss involved, I also need to inform the lab.
If I go on holiday abroad, I always need to bring my device.
Because you never know.
I also need to get a letter then from them, with all the information needed in case of an emergency.
This letter is also needed for customs, in case they have questions about the device.

Also, if the weather is warm/hot, this will have an effect on the thickness of the blood.
So if we go to a warm place, or the weather here gets warm, sometimes I need to check my blood earlier.
Just to make sure.

Also, a change of medication can have an effect on the blood.


There are a lot of do’s and don’ts.
I am almost used to it.
But sometimes I get tired of it.

You just would like to have a “normal” life.
But without al of this, who knows how things would be.

I am thankful for all the technology and medical progress.

I hope you all stay safe and take care during this Covid-19 outbreak.
God Bless.

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2 thoughts on “A Small Yearly Checkup

  1. So Covid-19 teaches us to do on a much smaller scale to do things to stay safe than you have to do already for years in your situation. Reading your story non of us should be complaining about the restrictions we experience due to Covid-19.

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