08 February 2010

Those Dodgy Clots

So, what started all of this? How did I get get here?

It's, thanks to these "cute" little things


What are they? Raspberry jellies? Little red underwater corals? Lychees? Nope. Blood clots -- dodgy little blood clots! And thank goodness for them. Yes, I did say "thank goodness" for them, because they paved the way to my cancer diagnosis.

It's not really certain when they started forming. But I'm sure that my very quick, tiring trip to DC to witness our 44th president's inauguration had something to do with it -- long airplane rides, overexposure to sub-freezing temperature for long periods of time, walking, standing around, walking, and then walking on and on from the crack of dawn until late into the night. My left leg started to hurt and swell a little in DC, but I dismissed it as just a bodily reaction from this new, tiring environment.

But by the time I got back home, the pain and the swelling had escalated to noticeable proportions. So much so, that I found myself in the ER two weeks after my trip because my left leg was so swollen, it felt like my skin was going to break and the leg would explode. The first doctor who examined me suspected a blood clot that my lead to a stroke. So he ordered a whole slew of tests, including a CT scan and 2 ultra sounds (one performed by him and another by a vascular ultra sound tech). Two doctors, several tests and 12 hours later, I was released from the ER with no clot in sight, BUT with strict orders that I was to see my GP immediately.

My GP did see me post haste. Alas! The mystery wasn't solved there. With head shaking, I was sent to sent to MORE tests, including another CT scan, several ultra-sounds and a referral to a surgeon. At that point I didn't even understand why I was referred to a surgeon. I thought, if there's a clot and they fear stroke, shouldn't I be referred to a cardiologist? hematologist? or some other specialist? But a surgeon? Oh well...I wasn't the expert, so I went to see the surgeon. And again, thank goodness! The mild-mannered, good-humored surgeon who had looked at the ordered test results took one good look at my swollen leg, felt my lymph glands and stopped at one (the one is at the right inside of my upper thigh on my swollen leg). "Feel that?" he said, guiding my hand to the swollen node (I barely felt anything). "I need to take a biopsy of that."

BIOPSY. Not a good word in my vocabulary. BIOPSY=HURRY! To say that I was alarmed is an understatement. I'd always associated the word "biopsy" with cancer. So the notion started floating in my head and I wanted the biopsy as soon as possible -- the same day if possible. But the quickest they could do it was the next day. We made an appointment to discuss the results of the biopsy a week later. It couldn't come soon enough.

I did not make it to the surgeon's office at the appointed time. I ended up at the ER instead. The night before my appointment with the surgeon, I couldn't sleep because my side hurt. I thought it was gas, so I took some Gas-X. No comfort. So at 5:00 a.m., I got out of bed, took a long hot shower and had some relief. I made my way to work -- an unusual thing because I usually leave for work at around 7:30 in the morning. I was too obsessed with the biopsy and too uncomfortable to stay put. By the time I got to work, the pain to breathe escalated. It hurt so much, I couldn't even speak. Short breaths were torture. A co-worker wanted to call 911 because I looked that bad. But, I didn't want a scene at work. So I managed to go downstairs and hail a cab and mumble "take me to the ER" to him. He did a fine job, although he was definitely panic-stricken.

No sooner had I laid down on my bed in the ER when morphine was administered and the very harried ER doctor sent me through to another round of tests. (My insides may be cooked at this time with the amount of radiation it's been exposed to over the past couple of weeks.) Let me just say here that I don't know I survived the chest x-ray. I don't know how I managed to take a deep breath and hold it without screaming in pain. Oh, I know why...it hurt to even speak.

Despite all the fuss around me, all I could think of was that I wasn't going to make my surgeon appointment to discuss the biopsy. So I asked the ER nurse to phone him and let him know where I am. The first thing I was going to do as soon as I got out of the hospital that night was to call his office and take the first available appointment. I just couldn't stop thinking of the biopsy.

A few hours later, the same harried ER doctor returned and said "I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?" I chose to hear the good news first. "Well, the good news is we found out what's wrong with you. And the bad news is that it's a blood clot, lodged on the lower side of your left lung." Aha! The first ER doctor of a few weeks ago was absolutely right! There was a clot afterall! So they admitted me to the hospital so they could break down those dodgy clots and make sure that none of it travels to my heart and brain. I was assigned an internist and spent 2 and half days in the hospital. I forgot about the biopsy, obsessed about those dodgy blood clots and learned a few new words: pulmonary embolism, Coumadin, and Lovenox.

Everything changed after that.....


Daria said...

Oh girl ... that is crazy.

ce_squared said...

it was a crazy, crazy ride, daria. thank goodness i'm on the other side of it now. :-)

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