So, I just spent about a week in the hospital

So, I’ve been in the hospital. I would have told everyone, but I didn’t have a computer.

I would have written this yesterday, but I had to sleep for 15 solid hours. Turns out you can’t sleep in the hopsital worth a crap, somebody’s poking you or taking your blood pressure or weighing you every thirty damn minutes or so. I got to where I could sleep through a blood draw pretty easily.

I’d been having some odd problems with my left leg for the last couple of months, a persistant sprained ankle and pulled calf that I thought I’d probably gotten while running. It seemed to come and go, so I planned on finding a local doctor to go to eventually, since we’d moved here recently and didn’t have one yet. Last Friday my wife noticed my ankle looked particularly awful, so I promised I’d find a doctor first thing next week. By Monday my whole leg was in excruciating pain, so we went into the emergency room.

The ER doctor looked concerned and asked if I’d had any shortness of breath. I’d had some that seemed unusual, now that he mentioned it. I work out a lot - I generally run 4-5 miles every morning and lift weights or have martial arts classes 3-5 times a week in the evening, although I’d had to cut back recently due to the ankle and leg. I’d occassionally been unable to keep up with what I should have been while sparring or gotten out of breath when it didn’t make sense for someone in good shape to get winded, like running up one or two flights of stairs. I just figured I was in my late 30’s and not able to quite keep up with the younger guys like I once had. The ER doc ordered a sonogram on my leg.

The results: deep vein thrombosis, clots all up and down my leg. Based on that he further ordered a CT scan of my chest to see if clots had made their way to my lungs. I knew it was a bad sign when they moved me to the room with the oxygen right after the test “as a precaution.” I was right - clots in the bronchioles of both lungs, also known as pulmonary embolism. My trooper wife was pretty badly shaken by all this. Despite all this, I was calm and reflective during my ambulance ride to the hospital, largely due to the assload of Demoral they’d pumped me up with in the ER. Off I went for a week of blood draws and Morphine.

My first night in the hospital would best be described as “fitful.” They put me in the heart failure unit as a precaution, since the clots from my lungs could migrate to my heart. Most everyone else there had congestive heart failure and was seriously ill, much more so than me. Two people passed away during my stay there.

At the risk of sounding cliched, my hospital doc was somewhat mystified. I’m young and in good health, execrcise regularly, I’ve never smoked, have a long commute but no recent trips of sufficient length to explain deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, especially to the extent that I’ve got 'em. They ran all kinds of tests to rule out cancer, organ dysfunction, etc. etc. etc. until I was a human pincushion. After a couple of days of getting my blood drawn, I cut myself shaving and a whistling sound came out (that’s a joke, I couldn’t shave because of the blood thinners). Occasionally three different nurses had to try to get my IV tube in, and there was talk of “putting in a line,” i.e. threading a line from my bicep to my heart so I wouldn’t have to get my IV periodically relocated, which I was less than jazzed about. Everything came back fine, no cancers, the echocardiogram of my heart showed it was fine, even my lung function was almost normal despite the clots, and all of my blood tests came back completely normal.

That is, until Thursday. I have two genetic blood clotting disorders, one somewhat rare and one extremely rare, one in ten thousand people. Instead of being on the blood thinner Coumadin (aka Warfarin) for a few months I’ll probably be on it for life. Since my vitals were good they sent me home with painkillers, Coumadin, and some other blood thinners I have to inject into my stomach, which actually isn’t nearly as awful as it sounds.

So the good news is i’m treatable and going to get better, I don’t have cancer, all my news is reasonably good except for lifelong Coumadin. I’m determined not to feel sorry for myself for that reason, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling slightly depressed and a little lost. I can’t have more than one or two drinks a night, but I don’t care about that so much. I don’t know if I can practice martial arts anymore; the main side effect of Coumadin is a bleeding and bruising risk. Full contact fighting is definitely out, but I don’t know if I can even train - just kicking pads may bruise my shins too badly now, and submission grappling may bruise me all over. I’m having to make a mental transition from possibly being a “bruiser” (one who bruises) to being a “bruiser” (one who is easily bruised). I’m extremely happy I’m not going to die, but I’m still having to wrap my head around the Coumadin. Any experiences any of you have with Coumadin would be much appreciated.

Ah the joys of rat posion. My wife has PE’s like normal folk have dandruff, so we are familier with the stuff. First and most important rule is Nobody in the ER remembers that a dose of Warfarin takes 72+ hours to do anything.

I’ve never been on Coumadin, but I sure have done my share of drawing blood for protimes. I thought that you could go off of it after a while- didn’t realize DVT meant lifelong blood thinning. I do know that the majority of DVT is ideopathic (no known cause) so don’t drive yourself crazy wondering how it happened- sometimes, it just happens. Scary stuff, though- I know every time my lower leg aches I think of DVT! I’m glad you’re okay and home now. Surely they told you to not eat much dark, leafy greens, as that increases your clotting time even more. Watch out for a lot of bruising or little red dots known as petechiae.

Well, I’m glad you’re not dying, pravnik. We get enough of that around here.

My dad is on Coumadin or another blood thinner (I’m not sure which), and he can’t take any NSAID pain relievers, not even aspirin. He’s 85, so abstaining from the martial arts is really not a problem for him, but I have not been aware of any increased tendency to bruise. But then, he’s quite overweight, so between that and the age difference, his experience is probably not going to be comparable to yours.

I was in the hospital for about four days a few years ago. It sucked despite the good drugs. It sounds like this could have killed you pretty easily. Your wife must have been terrified, and you can’t have been feeling any too jolly yourself. Glad to hear you’re out, and with such an on-the-whole successful result. As such things go, living on a maintenance dose of a medicine beats the hell out of the alternative!

Usually DVT/PE doesn’t mean lifelong blood thinning, but apparently my particular genetic makeup will probably make it necessary. They told me to be “consistent” in the greens I eat, which is odd. Who notices how often they eat broccoli?

Good to know - my clotting levels aren’t yet where they should be.

Thanks. It was pretty scary and hard on the wife. I feel somewhat guilty for feeling hesitant about the Coumadin at all for pretty much that reason; after all of that, worrying about my hobbies seems petty on my part.

No need to feel guilty, just remind yourself when you’re feeling grumpy that the alternative is not terribly desirable.

Thanks, I’m trying to do exactly that. :slight_smile:

Wow, how scary for y’all. I’m glad to hear that it was something treatable. My heart goes out to your wife, I know how it feels to be driving along following the ambulance with your hubby inside. Thinking good thoughts for both of you.

Happy to hear you’re okay pravnik, sounds very scary for all your efforts to downplay it. Yikes!

Do as you’re told and follow the Dr’s orders now. I come from a family of people notorious for knowing better when they’re well enough to…with disastrous results. Believe them, I beg of you.

I feel for your wife she must be worried to death she’s going to lose you. I suggest you be extra sweet for a while. She’s had a terrible fright, even if you’re the one who’s sick.

But mostly, happy to hear you’ll be okay!

Glad to hear you caught it in time. A friend of mine is in the same situation. He was on crutches for a while. He too is on Warfarin for life.

Ho-ly cow! I’m glad you caught it on time, too!

We had another young, fit Doper post about having a stroke not too long ago. The mind boggles at how unpredictable the body can be sometimes.

Sorry you have to cool it on the martial arts, I know how much you love it :frowning:

Since it’s genetic, are you telling your family to get tested?

Damn, man. I just got sprung from the hospital too and came here for the first time in months expressly to request reassurance on my condition (not nearly as serious as yours - you totally have me beat).

I’m sorry about the lifelong coumadin thing, and to echo above posters, don’t feel bad about being concerned about your hobbies. It’s still a loss. I’m sure someone knowledgeable (medical professional, I guess, though I don’t have any ideas about specifics) can advise you on safely modifying your activities, though, so don’t worry too much at this point.

I hope you’re feeling better!

I’ve had DVT and a PE. Thankfully, the PE in my lung where I couldn’t catch my breath happened while I was already in the hospital. Scary as all heck. Mine was most likely due to some meds I had been taking. You know, when the commercial says risks of blah, blah, blah and blood clots. I had 6 weeks of self-injected blood thinners in the stomach after I got home from the hospital. No biggie. But they also put in a vena cava filter that catches clots on their way to the lungs before they get there so I don’t have to go through that again.

We’re very lucky. A big % of people don’t live through a PE.

The bride has now had PE’s x3. The second time resulted in a cross country trip to get her lung arteries rotoroutered. I also had to get certified to handle LOX, since she was on suplimental O2 for a while.

Anything green you eat can screw up your clotting. Of course, Coumadin can screw up itself quite nicely—this weeks theraputic dose will be next week’s sub-theraputic dose, and next month’s near lethal dose. They are not pulling you in for blood draws to see your smileing face—Coumadin is a ART, not a science!

The wife’s latest adventure was that Coumadin stopped working. Now I get to stab her with Lovenox twice a day, with a syringe that retails for $120.02 each.

I had to get a industrial Sharps container off Ebay. The shipping was more than the container.

People on Lovenox, did you try getting the multi dose vials and filling them yourself? I insisted on these whenI had to give my infant son blood thinners. The glass syringes were too expensive and I would have to shoot most of the Lovenox out anyway, since his dose was so tiny. (0.07mls) so I used tuberculin syringes and the multi dose vials.

It did help that I was a nurse, but not that much. I was a more experienced nurse than I was a mom of a sick baby. He had an insuflon catheter that was a #$!% -ing nightmare to inject, and it usually came out before his weekly changes. After a few weeks I just started giving him the injections in his leg or any other chubby bits until the next visit.

As for consistency in green vegetables, don’t eat spinach every day for a week then go cold turkey, then binge on fiddleheads. Dark green vegetables are loaded up with Vitamin K which has unique effects on blood clotting. That’s what they mean by consistancy. There is documented evidence that eating fiddleheads can interfere with the INR. (pt/ppt) NEJM article (I dont have access to the whole thing from this computer)

(I am a nurse, I am not your nurse, I am not a nutritionist, doctor, or anything else.)


Well, as you no doubt know, there’s a lot of good news there in that story, a lot of what-might-have-been avoided, so I’d focus on that – as you are doing!

Hang in there, bud, and see how you can transition to a no-contact type sparring martial art. Glad you’re not leaving us…

Yes, my brother, and maybe his son depending on what his results are. My parents were in the room when the doctor was telling me all this; he said if they’ve made it this long without a clot not to bother.

Mine luckily wasn’t quite that scary; even though I had pretty extensive clotting my shortness of breath was mild enough and infrequent enough that I mistook it for simply getting winded too easily during exercise, more embarassing than alarming. Apparently my clotting was one of the “better” kind to have if you’re going to have it, out in the bronchioles rather than a saddle embolism right in the center of the lungs, which can be instantly deadly. I’m hoping I won’t need the vena cava filter - nobody’s mentioned it as a possibility since the ER.

No doubt. <high five>