Wandering Thoughts

September 27, 2008

Warfarin Humour

One of the consequences of my new artificial valve is that I will have to take Warfarin for the rest of my life. With all that foreign material now so near my heart I run the risk of blood clots forming. Clots which could lead to a stroke or something similarly nasty. So I take Warfarin – it’s an anti coagulant, which means that it slows my blood’s clotting, and that reduces the risk.

The side effect though, is that blood that clots less readily also bleeds more heavily. And it’s harder to get the bleeding to stop.

Now I’ve never been the most accurate shaver, nor the most coordinated of men. Like a raft in rapids my traverse of our flat involves swerves, stumbles, bangs and bumps.

Aware of this, and wondering what it might all mean for a man taking something to stop his bleeding from stopping, I found myself in my doctor’s surgery a couple of weeks ago. Interrogating him about Warfarin and what would happen if I cut myself.

“Warfarin,” his sentences are always rapid-fire, smart and thorough, “slows the speed that your blood clots but, so long as your INR is in the target range, your blood will still clot just fine. Slower but fine.”

“So if I cut myself shaving or surfing…”

“…You’ll be ok. Just make sure that you stem the bleeding if you need to.” He must be used to my worrying nature by now but, if he is, he never shows it.

“So what do I need to worry about?”

“Well I’d definitely advise you not to get into any serious car crashes…”

He paused, a hint of a smile began to curve his face.

“…but then again, I give that advice to all my patients.”


Ok – so I’m aware that footnotes kill jokes but I do feel the need to add two things:

1. That’s not quite how the conversation played out but, between the two of us, we did discover that punchline.

2. Please, I’m no medical professional, and this is just my memories shaped into a blog post – if you are taking Warfarin always get your own specialist advice and follow it.  An excellent resource (although still no substitute for professional advice) is Valve Replacement Forum’s anti-coagulation section:




  1. Warfarin stands for “wisconsin area research foundation” something or other. I went to medical school at the university of wisconsin-madison in the united states, where it was discovered. The discovery can be accredited to dying cows that ate sweet clover. Amazing how many lives it is now saving.

    By strange coincidence, I have recently developed reactive arthritis. I feel for you man. This disease is so painful and debilitating and is so poorly understood. We need more research in the immunology category.

    Comment by Josh — June 3, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

  2. Ha. Classic. I owe those cows my life.

    Sorry to hear you have ReA though. Good luck with finding a treatment regime that works! I guess the good news is that for a lot of people it’s only a transitory condition.

    Kind regards


    Comment by terence — June 3, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

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