Saturday, October 30, 2010

THE LOWLY STRAW TRICK


I'm talking about a different
kind of straw today!
It is a very simply thing--a straw, which has four definitions from on-line Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1. a. stalks of grain after threshing; broadly dry stalky plant residue used like grain straw (as bedding or packing); 
b. a natural or artificial heavy fiber used for weaving, plaiting, or braiding.

2. a. dry coarse stem especially of a cereal grass;

3. a. (1). something of small worth or significance; (2). something too insubstantial to provide support or help in a desperate situation <clutching at straws>;
b. chaff 

4. a. something (as a hat) made of straw;
 b. a tube (as of paper, plastic, or glass) for sucking up a beverage.

A rather common, lowly material, it is derived from multiple sources, usable in weaving, plaiting or braiding  as well as fodder for livestock. And in areas where I have lived straw and hay equate to each other.

Drinking straw
Broderbund
ClickArt

However, I am discussing definition 4.(b) the tube used for sucking up a beverage. 

Crafters have made use of drinking straws in many ways, usually in connection with children's crafts. In and of itself, children have played with straws as if prized toys. Mischievous youngsters use a variety of techniques in settings where drinking straws are available. I remember dipping them in honey and blowing so high in the air as to stick on the ceiling in a popular teenage hangout.

But today I want to introduce the drinking straw as an instrument which I have added to my personal first aid kits.

While in Arkansas Heart Hospital I had a serious atrial fibrillation attack at 3 a.m. one morning--3 days already on new medication. The night shift was in a tizzy as my heart rate would soar to dangerous heights and quickly fall to lower rates, although still not normal.

Since I was placed on a medication with narrow safety margins, they had to check several sources before administering the usual routine medications for the episode.

Meanwhile my assigned nurse brought in a straw, told me to place my finger over the end and blow as hard as I could into the straw. I did several times but the desired effect did not appear on the monitor.

 Later I was told to keep some straws handy; if I saw my heart rate rising on my pulse oximeter or blood pressure machine, or felt arrhythmia's, to try this trick.

Since being home, if my heart rate jumped 30 points or more a couple of times while simply sitting, or the arrhythmia symbol shows up on my blood pressure machine, I completed this low tech procedure to stop the spiraling heart rate. It worked, but, importantly, I did this early in the episode, and is probably the clue to when it works.

Since coming home I have assembled several packages of medications including a straw, to use if I am far from medical help.

I CAUTION ALL OF YOU THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THIS WILL WORK. SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT IMMEDIATELY IS THE VERY BEST REMEDY.
OUR RESCUE AND AMBULANCE TRAINED PERSONNEL IN MY RURAL AREA IS GREAT.

I REPEAT: CALL 911 IS THE FIRST STEP.

I know....I have used our rescue and paramedic personnel four times in recent months.

13 comments:

Pat - Arkansas said...

I never before heard of the straw trick, Carol. Good information to have on hand. I keep straws in the cupboard and have a plentiful supply. which was laid in when the grandchildren were much younger. Guess I'll keep them.

Dimple said...

Interesting. This reminds me of breathing into a paper bag to counter hyperventilation...

CHERI said...

Who knew? That's a great tip to pass along, just in case. I have often thought that the herbs our forefathers used to use should be taken more seriously. My great-great grandmother was known for her herbs and people all around would come to her for them. Hope you are doing well and will have great days ahead.

Silver said...

Good to keep them handy!

And wishing you'll get better real soon!

Hugs,
Silver

Lorna said...

the things we learn!!!

Mumsy said...

Thanks for sharing this. I am glad that it is helping you too when you need help. Who would have ever thought a straw could come in so handy. Hugs

faye said...

Hadn't heard of using a straw.
great idea ..

Arkansas Patti said...

That is amazing and I am moving my straw supply to the bedroom just in case. Don't have that problem-- but that is right now. At our age, things change quickly. It really must give you some comfort to know there is something you can do when that happens to get relief.
Hope they get your meds under control soon.
Honey in a straw ?? Never heard of that one. Weren't you the rascle?

Patty said...

Wow to think something so simple might work. I'll have to remember that for Abe.

Glad you are doing better.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Never have I ever heard of this either. I can not believe Carol all that you have been through in the last few months.
Glad you took the time to share this with us.
Funny when I first started reading this I thought you were going to do a post about a scarecrow. lol
Our minds really play on us don't they.
what is left of mine anyway.
LOve
Maggie

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

Thanks for the information. It's a great tip! Hope you are improving.

lakeviewer said...

What an interesting idea! I do hope your meds are working and have stabilized your heart rate.

Liz said...

Amazing! Simple and effective for you. How wonderful that a little thing like a straw can help you.