Saturday, July 6, 2013

Love Tattoo

     My husband just turned forty this year and he marked that milestone with only one piercing and zero tattoos; I, on the other hand, am more than a decade younger than him and already have four tattoos and ten piercings. To clarify, all the piercings are in my ears and all the tattoos can easily be covered when needed for work and such, so it's not like I'm running around all Megan Massacre-y, however much I might like to. Of the two of us, I think tattoos have always held more appeal for me than him, as we've had several discussions about why he didn't have any and he always had solid reasoning. The biggest one was that he had never come across a design that he liked enough to make it a permanent part of his landscape. While I completely agreed with his reasoning, after Wednesday's misadventure, there was no reason in the world good enough to keep him out of the tattoo shop.

     Oddly enough, we had actually been discussing my husband having a medical alert tattoo done for a few weeks before he got hauled away from work in an ambulance. I mean, discussed it to the point where he had worked up a design after consulting with his primary care physician about what it should say. He hadn't pulled the trigger, though, because at the end of the day, it's a permanent commitment, potentially life-saving or not.

     The thing is, we'd been kicking the idea around for about six months or so, just tinkering with it. With all the hardware he's carrying around, the cocktail o' daily drugs he's on and just his general overall Marfan's weird medical shit, we figured it was probably a good idea to get it all out there where it's easily visible in case I'm not there when something goes wrong or he's unable to speak to let the medical personnel know what's up. We looked at medical alert bracelets and such, but there was no guarantee that he would remember to make it out of the house with a piece of jewelry on and besides, they're pretty easily overlooked in the (potential) panic of the moment, should life-saving measures ever be necessary.

     Google confirmed that we weren't the first ones to have the idea of a tattoo like this in an easily-readable spot, and after talking to his main doctor to see what should be included in the ink on his arm, we made tentative plans for him to go through with it. Someday. When the time was right. A long time from now. And then Wednesday happened and everything went all to hell.

     See, what we've been dreading for a long time is a scenario in which my husband is incapacitated and thus unable to speak to the paramedics/EMTs/doctors about his medical history. If he can't tell them about his medical history, they could very well make things worse by treating him for what the symptoms indicate as the most likely cause (heart attack), instead of what's really going on (internal bleeding from a ruptured aortic aneurysm). Like this past week, when he was given baby aspirin in the ambulance. Baby aspirin kind of does the opposite of what you need a drug to do when you've just sprung a leak internally, especially since my husband already takes wafarin on a daily basis due to his heart valve.

     Please understand - I don't fault the paramedics who treated him one bit. They did exactly what they were trained to do, and the odds of them ever having encountered a Marfan's kid like him are staggeringly low, so how could they have known what they were actually dealing with? Well, I'll tell you how they'll know next time - my husband had everything they need to know about him tattooed on his left forearm, along with a medical alert symbol the size of a softball. I mean, you would have to actively work to not notice this thing.

                               Tattoo by Jake Thorsell @ Fu's Custom Tattoos

     He's actually in the hospital right now (more on that later) and thus far, that tattoo has made him kind of a rock star. Well, as much as one can be while watching Food Network from a hospital bed and eating popsicles, I suppose. But still, all the nurses love it, one of his doctors has expressed his desire to get a similar one on his chest, and the paramedics who initially brought him to the hospital? They were actively going out into the ER to bring colleagues into my husband's room so that they could see it. Definite celebrity status, I say.

    I know this solution isn't for everyone and I'm sure there are those who think we've gone way too far overboard, headed into paranoid territory, even. I don't think so, neither does my husband, and frankly, I can't think of anyone else whose opinion matters on this one. I feel a hell of a lot better, knowing that his relevant medical history is right there should he need it and I know he does, too.


Mathieu Pitre said...

I also have marfan and I've been thinking about getting a tattoo but I'm not sure if it's safe or not

Kris K said...

I would suggest talking to your doctor and the tattoo artist. My husband had no issues, even though he's on blood thinners; I actually bled more than he did when I got my most recent tattoos. In his case, he talked to his primary care physician to see if it would be okay to get tattooed, and if so, what were the important points to add to his arm.