Product: Emergency Rescue
Styptic block   (+8)  [vote for, against]
potassium alum cube

This simple product is a block of potassium alum, as used in a "styptic pencil" to stop shaving nicks from bleeding. It is shaped just like a billiard chalk block, with a fingertip-sized indentation on one side; the block is perhaps half the height of the standard chalk block.

It's made for diabetics who must take finger-stick blood samples, and sometimes hit a gusher that just won't quit. The block will fit in a holder inside the blood glucose meter's carrying pouch.
-- lurch, Oct 14 2011

A block of potassium alum. http://www.salonski...p/products_id/11272
[MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 14 2011]

Useful for single and married people. Unnecessary for divorced men since ex-wives will travel immense distances to suck every last drop of your life's blood, and the breath from your body.
-- 8th of 7, Oct 14 2011

Should be added to the clerical staff toolkit, for papercuts. [+]
-- swimswim, Oct 14 2011

An insightful and compassionate invention. [+]

BTW, corn starch works in a pinch, when you can't get pot- al or silver nitrate.
-- Alterother, Oct 14 2011

Why is this better than a styptic pencil?
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 14 2011

It's conveniently contoured for the thumb and fits comfortably in a hip pocket or make-up compact? I'm just guessing, really.

When we do toenail trims and dogs and cats, we typically fill a pill-bottle cap with pot-al powder to 'cup' the end of a nicked nail, because it's a helluva lot easier than trying to hit the end of thrashing, blood-spraying cat's toenail with a pencil.
-- Alterother, Oct 14 2011

I just Googled "alum block" and got a bunch of hits. Not necessarily billiard-chalk-block sized, but pretty close.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 14 2011

// trying to hit the end of thrashing, blood-spraying cat's toenail with a pencil //

Ah, we know what you're doing wrong, there.

You;re trying to hit the wrong bit of the cat (the toenail) when you should be hitting the head; and you're striking it with a pencil, when you should be using a sharp hatchet.

Initially, there will be rather more bleeding, but this soon stops. Forever.

#'include <EOSSACR.H>
-- 8th of 7, Oct 14 2011

Yes, they took the bait!

<array of spring-loaded pocket knives snaps shut under the crunching boots of the collective>

See? I said it wouldn't work.
-- Alterother, Oct 14 2011

[MB], I am happy that this makes no sense to you. It means you're probably not a diabetic, and I hope the Type 2 crap leaves you alone as well.

I had to start doing 2-a-day finger sticks about a year ago. My wife, who has been a type 1 since age 3, got her first Ames Dextrometer shortly after they came on the market. Now she has one of those newfangled "continuous glucose monitor" things.

Our initial hope was that would save her fingertips from the continual burgerization - but, no; it demands to be calibrated several times per day. I can plan my fingersticks, but she has to provide her blood to her microvampire whenever it starts whining.

So, here's how it's done: get out the meter, and open its case. Open the bottle of test strips, get one out, close the bottle; put the test strip into the meter. Get out the lancing device; select a finger to sacrifice.

(Oh, did I mention that the annoying CGM *always* picks the absolute most inopportune moment to start bleating about a calibration? So among the instructions above should be added "use elbow to hold meter case on knee." Or "[...] shoulder [...] wall.")

Ok, now lance the chosen finger, squeeze up a drop of blood, and stick it to the test strip. At this point, you develop a handicap: you still have two hands available, but one of them can only handle things you don't mind getting bloody. Until you get the bleeding to stop, anyway. If you're lucky, a swipe with a tissue and you're done. (Where did you get a free hand to grab the tissue?)

One hand to put away the lancet (but if you're holding the case down with an elbow, the elbow has to be of your unbloodied hand's arm - because if you used the elbow of the sampled arm, you couldn't reach the case to put the sample on the strip) so at this point you have to switch elbows, put away the lancet, take out the bloody test strip, wad that up in the tissue and check again to make sure you've stopped bleeding.

(I didn't mention about vision problems, did I? Vision impairment is extremely common among diabetics; my wife, for example, has no vision in her left eye. Retinopathy issue.)

(buzz buzz - the wifey's CGM just now complained "out of range high - please calibrate.")

Anyway - the vision thing, even when not extreme, often leads to reduced depth perception and impaired low-light vision. Which makes getting the blood drop to the test strip a real pain at times. But that can be compensated for by using both hands - one touching the meter, guiding the other to the test strip. However, in the post-poked phase, where you don't have an extra hand free to guide the other, it's a worse problem.

Now make sure that all the different items are cased back in their individual slots or straps (inevitably too tight or too loose). Then remember what the number off the meter was so that you can record it, or calculate your insulin dose, or calibrate your CGM, or whatever.

Ok, finally, I'll start talking about my idea. The styptic block sits in a corner of the meter case, trapped in place so you don't have to use a non-available hand to dig the thing out. It's not the size of a bar of soap because there's not that much space available in the case. The white color of the block forms a good contrast with the (usually) black nylon material of the meter case, making it easy to see by the visually impaired, or in low light conditions. The concave surface identifies the place for the finger to be rubbed, even if you have to find it by feel with another finger - and makes it less likely that your bloody digit gets wiped on some other inappropriate surface or object. And the fact that you use the top surface, rather than a styptic pencil's tip, means that you can just put your finger's image between your eye and the white spot, then extend until you make contact. No depth perception required.
-- lurch, Oct 15 2011

//I am happy that this makes no sense to you.//

Au contraire, it makes perfect sense to me. My query was why a styptic pencil wasn't equally effective; my point thereafter was that Googling "Styptic block" threw up several hits, several of them available for purchase. A few minutes work with a penknife or hot water would produce the requisite indentation.

If it's a question of hands-freeness, how about one of those rubber thimbles designed to help people count banknotes, lined with alum? You could pop your finger in it and still have all other digits available while the wound clotted.

I bet you could prepare such a thimble by (1) wetting the inside of a thimble (2) adding a small amount of powdered alum and (3) shaking it around and then shaking out the excess.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 15 2011

random, halfbakery