a leech’s tale

(Friends on LJ, I’ll totally answer some questions here, and respond there later when I’m not running around packing, like I sort of am now. I just wanted to share this real fast before I get back to laundry, etc.)

So two nights ago I merely helped with the leeches — this past night, the patient who needed leeches was my patient! So I get report, and read the entire leech brochure — there was this one sentence that said, “leeches are amphibious,” and I read it as “leeches are ambitious,” and laughed at myself, out loud.

The whole point of using leeches isn’t really to get them to drink the blood, it’s to get them to use their anticoagulant powers on the afflicted area — you put them on a place that doesn’t have great circulation, and the leeches keep drawing blood too that area, and out of it again, until your veins get the hint and grow through. A leech can drink like 5 mls of blood, but once they’re done, their chemicals can cause the wounds they make to lose up to 150 mls of blood.

You keep track of leeches like you would sponges in the OR, to make sure that everything that gets put onto the patient gets taken off again. Always. Otherwise, they’ll hop off and find some new place (like an anus) to go hide in/nearby.

So we’ve got leeches on this pt’s extremity, and I’m switching them out periodically, and then I go on break.

I come back…and my pt’s room is like a CSI crime scene.

There’s a trail of blood from their wound, off the bed, onto the bedside table. Down all 4 feet of the bedside table — a little leech waddle pattern, herp-derp, as they roll along — and then off the table, onto the ground. Around behind the bed, the whole way behind it, along the far wall, and then towards the door. I follow the blood trail and find my culprit, who’s all, “Oh, hai!” by the door. Ambitious? Indeed.

I felt particularly bad about killing that one :/. Since they’re biohazards, post-bleeding, we had to drown them all in alcohol after they’re done.

Anyhow — even with constant checking, I still got two more runners that night. They just didn’t get as far is all. (And thanks gollumgollum for your comment about not stepping on them! I kept an eye out on the floor every time I came in.) It too me awhile to scrub the blood off the floor — as far as sheer blood quantity/exposure goes, leeches, for me, were second only to seeing surgery in OR. (My floor doesn’t get many traumas, not like that. My patients come pre-cauterized.)

The whole experience was cool. It felt like they were my medical pokemon, although their only move would be “feed!” (It’s better than harden, at least.) And now I want a old fashioned leech jar, though not with any leeches inside ;).



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