So, I never really went through fully what occurred. I threw out some fancy medical terms and that was really it.
On November 16th, I ran an errand in the morning. It was a normal run of the mill kind of thing that I do all the time. I don’t own a car, so I was bussing it. Getting to said errand was easy enough, until I had to step down off the bus and walk about 1/2 a block to get to my destination. Half a block…I did what any stubborn pig headed Scotsman would do, I gritted my teeth and carried on. 1/2 hour later, I’m trying to walk back to the bus. Not happening my leg tells me. Then my lungs tell me, by being out of breath. I’m 45, I’m not old, I’ve always been blessed with relatively decent health in my adult years. But I was not moving like a 45 year old. I decided to call a cab to go home.
When I get home, I call my family doctor. The receptionist asks me some questions, and says, how’s this afternoon? I think nothing of it, and arrange a ride with Bear who takes me and drops me off for my appointment. The doctor takes a look at me, asks me a bunch of questions and sends me off to Emerg. Now…let me back up a bit just in case I can help save someone’s life down the road.
When you are suffering from Deep Vein Thrombosis (hereafter DVT), it means you have a blood clot blocking the circulation through a vein. It can be in your leg or your arm. Mine was in my left leg. Still is, but we’ll get to that further on. When your arteries are blocked, your circulation is limited and you experience swelling. 3 days before going to the doctor, my leg ballooned up to 3 times its normal size. Look further up to see my Scotsman comment. I’m overweight, I smoked, I figured I was just swelling, that it would go down. Symptom 2 that should have been a clue to me. Redness. My foot, aside from now being fat (because your foot swells too) was also very angry looking. By angry looking I mean red AF and warm to the touch. Pssssh. That’s nothing to be concerned about.
In all honesty folks, if I hadn’t decided to take a cab, and realize that that’s not normal for me to just give up…and if Layne hadn’t asked me the day before if I thought I should go to the doctor, which made me relent, I would not be here writing you today. Because here’s what else can happen if blood clots are involved…
On top of the DVT I had a Pulmonary Embolism. This occurs when blood clots enter the lungs. If enough of them get into your lungs, you’ve got a really good chance of dying. I don’t know exactly how many I had enter my lungs, but there was a general calm panic from the ER doctor when he got the imaging of my chest back. I was treated in hospital with Heparin and Warfarin or as I like to call them Pig Extract and Rat poison. Truth be told they are anticoagulants to limit your bloods ability to clot, and are “very successful for everyone” Well, as we found out, I’m the exception to the rule…which we already knew but whatever. Anyone that knows me, knows that I feel western medicine is a crap shoot at best. And now in this day and age of Google you don’t need to be as smart as you used to be, because you can just look everything up and diagnose your patients that way. (Sorry to the doctors that actually take their jobs seriously) I also am very in tune with my body, and I knew, I wasn’t ready to be released. But come the 27th, they told me to prepare. This is what my foot and leg still looked like on November 27th, two days before release number 1. Do you notice a difference? I can promise you that at one point in time, my legs and feet were the same size and colour. And that was after 11 days of IV treatment with Heparin, and 2 days of Warfarin bridging. Oh, and 4 blood tests a day for 5 days trying to get my INR in line. What’s that fancy acronym you may or may not be asking? It stands for International Normalized Ratio Therapeutic Range and in normal healthy people that don’t have to worry about blood clots that range is .9 to 1.2. In people like myself who are being treated for DVT’s that range is 2.0 to 3.0. It took forever to get me into the treatment range, and the reason why it’s so important to be in that range, is that I’m supposed to be safe from more clot events, but my blood isn’t so “thin” that I have bleeding issues, internally or externally. So, by Nov 27th, I was in that range, and being told I was going home in 2 days. Yay me!
Or not. On December 9th (which also happens to be my late mother’s birthday) Bear took me back to Emerg. Trust me, I had no interest in going back to that place, especially after the I told you so feelings kicked in. This time instead of being rushed right in, they took their sweet ass time seeing me in the first place, and really weren’t taking me seriously. Until the ultra sound came back and it looked like the clot had grown. Then it was getting set up to have a large guide wire stuck up my vein so they could blast that nasty clot and get rid of it. Nope, that clot wasn’t going anywhere. It runs from just above my left knee to somewhere above my groin. They tried blasting it (like sandblasting a building), ramming it (like a castle door) and soaking it in clot busting solution. Nope, not going anywhere. I was then told I would need to be lying on my back with my feet raised for the next 3 months. I spent another 10 days in the hospital with 4 blood tests a day, dehydration from not being able to get up and get my own water whenever I wanted (until about 4 days before going home) and general fear that I wasn’t going to actually recover. Ever
Still up to this point I hadn’t seen a Hematologist. The Radiologist was the only person who had given us any sense of what was going on, and what was going to be involved in getting better. Two days before being discharged, the Hematologist finally comes by and says you need this medication. It’s called Tinzaparin, it’s a daily injection and I feel it’s going to work best at getting you back on your feet. Oh and It’s $3000. You know that sinking feeling you get right before something really bad is going to happen? Picture that, but your heart bypassing your stomach and just burying itself in the sand. I don’t have benefits, I wasn’t working, no way could I afford that. Enter compassionate care. A way for people without benefits, and with the necessary income to get the medication they need to get said medication. 1/2 hour before discharge, I’m handed a prescription and some nurse who could care less telling me how to inject myself. Baby moment. Needles and I don’t mix. I’m not afraid of them, I used to give my mom injections, I had just gone through the better part of a month getting blood tests 4-6 times a day. Ok…yeah, that point, because it was so hard to stay hydrated, I was shitting myself at the thought of more needles. 1/2 hour…and an oral lesson on how to do it. Fuck you very much bitch nurse who’s name I can’t be bothered remembering.
There were a lot of great nurses caring for me…this one, needs a new job, in a distant land away from people. Oh, and did I mention I didn’t think I was ready for home yet? Not that I wanted to be in the hospital, but guys, you’ve already pulled the trigger to quick once. And I was still red and swollen, and in a fuck of alot of pain.
The needles aren’t that bad, now that I’m used to them. My belly is one big bruise right now, shades of yellow and purple. I’d share pictures, but…no one needs to see that. I’ve been home a month, I have 2 more months of injections to go before my compassionate care ends. I still don’t have a follow up appt with the haematologist, no real instructions, other than stay on your back, don’t move don’t agitate the blood clot you don’t want it breaking loose. The brats have been awesome this whole time trying to keep me upbeat and happy. I spend my 1 hour a day that I’m allowed to be out of bed eating dinner at the table with the fam. The rest of the waking time is cat videos, netflix and games with the kids. I’m gonna be a master UNO player in no time.
To anyone going through this, the key is keeping positive. The alternative is misery, and no one needs that shit. I got lucky, missed the bullet by a few hours. This is a real thing guys, take care of yourselves. If you notice any weird unexplained swelling, shortness of breath, cramping in leg or arm muscles that can’t be explained, get to a doctor right away.