The flight to Las Vegas from Boston is a long one – six hours on the way there and five on the way back. I talked with my doctors before taking the flight, and being pregnant, I’m dealing with an increased threat of deep vein thrombosis. The Factor V Leiden gene in my body is also a red flag, so these longs flights caused some concern for my medical team.
“We’re not worried so much as we have some rules for when you’re flying. The first is that you need to get up and move around about once every hour to keep your circulation steady and your legs moving. And the second thing is that we’d like you to take Lovenox on the days that you’re flying. That will help combat the Factor V risk.”
Take a shot? No problem. At least that’s one thing I can commit to without fear.
So about an hour and a half before my flights took off, I snuck into the airport bathroom and pulled out the pre-filled syringe of Lovenox. Lovenox is an anti-coagulant drug that helps to prevent blood clots. I don’t know much about it, other that it’s safe for pregnant women to take and it was one of the conditions set forth by Joslin, so I pretty much do what they say these days. I’ve never taken anything like it before, so Wednesday evening was my first time.
Fellow diabetics, I just need to say that we have it good with our teeny, ultra-fine needles. This Lovenox needle was clumsy, long, and thick. “Inject it right into your abdomen, where you’d normally take an insulin injection,” the doctors recommended, so I did just that. But it sucked a little bit. One of the side effects of the injection is bruising and soreness, and they’re not kidding. Within 15 minutes of taking the injection, a deep red thumbprint popped up on my abdomen, tender to the touch.
But that seems to be the only side-effect I’ve experienced. Except for a little bit of paranoia. And now, a few days after the trip, I have the itchiest, red rash at my injection sites.
Once a doctor tells me that I could be at risk for something, I do what I can to help mitigate that risk. For these flights to Las Vegas, I took the Lovenox injections and made sure I was up and about once an hour, but I also did something else.
Every time I went into the airplane bathroom, I did some weird kind of calisthenics. Thanks to BabySparl, the need to pee is hourly (making me test my blood sugar all the time, wondering, “Is this because of Baby or am I high?), so I’d use the ladies’ room and then face the mirror. And then do this bizarre mix of high knee raises, running in place, and stretching. Thankfully, being barely 5’4” gives me enough room to move around in there, but I felt like a tool.
“And stretch! And stretch!” I heard Jane Fonda in my head as I faux-exercised in the airplane bathroom.
I prayed that the stewardesses couldn’t hear me thrashing around in there. How the hell would I explain that? “I don’t want a blood clot so I’m doing a little dance here in the bathroom. That’s legal, right?”
The flights were fine. (If you don’t count the flight from Boston to Las Vegas, which included an extra hour on the trip due to a strong headwind, expired food, not enough meals for passengers, no movie, and no working radios. US Airways, you sucked it up on that one.) Lovenox was a success. And now I feel like I’ve managed to fit in a workout, even at 35,000 feet. But I’m curious to know if anyone else has ever taken Lovenox, or another kind of anti-coagulant. And if anyone has ANY tips at all on dealing with this frigging itchy rash. It’s starting to go away, and I know it’s just part of the side-effect fun, but it’s making me scratchy-crazy.
It’s all new to me, and I’d appreciate any feedback from someone who’s been there. (And if you have airplane exercise tips, share those, too. I’m heading to Florida in two weeks and am wondering how I’m going to embarrass myself on that plane, too!)