One of my patients was prescribed "Leech Therapy" mid-afternoon on Friday. Apparently the place to get leeches is Edmonton but the courier's were all out already so, 10 hrs and a $740 tab later the leeches arrived via taxi.
So, forty leeches greeted me Saturday morning when I came to work. My patient needed 2 leeches applied to their wound every two hours (promote blood circulation) and I was the lucky one who had to fish out the leeches and prick my patient to draw a drop of blood to bait the leech to bite.
Let's just say it took a few hrs and many previous leech encounters to get me to not be squeamish for this photo. First off all, no-one warned me that leeches are such good swimmers, and creepy looking swimmers at that, but I was okay with that. It was when they got their mouth and butt suckers stuck and I had to pull them off everything... Ick.. The patient had quite a good laugh watching all us girls scream and shudder when trying to attach them to the wound.
Then there were the times the patient would call us to let us know a leech has gone AWOL and we would have to go flip the sheets, turn the pillows, search the ground and try not to squirm too much looking for the lost little critter.
But the WORST PART was when it came to euthanize the leeches.
Once they get full from feeding, they detach themselves and are satisfied for a few weeks, so we have euthanize them by putting them in alcohol. The leech would toss and turn and then all the blood the lil sucker had ate would come out, leaving a pretty bloody mess as he died. Lovely.
By the end of the shift I became quite comfortable with the leeches and got a kick out of watching a new shift of nurses squirm and scream when they went to grab the leeches. But I am still gonna avoid leech-infested water like you wouldn't believe. It's one thing to apply them to a patient but it's a whole 'nother thing to find them on my legs and arms and pull them off.. shudder