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.