The curtain to the ER room flew open. A white coated doctor stood there with some papers in his hand and just looked at me.
“You aren’t supposed to be here”, he said.
I smiled and said they were moving me to the ICU in a few minutes.
He kind of wryly smiled and said, “No, I mean you are not supposed to BE here. I only get charts like this from the morgue.”
It kinda hit me at that moment how much trouble I was in.
He walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder and quietly asked if I had family. I nodded and he said, “call them and get them here.”
“Am I going to die”, I asked – seriously.
“There is a distinct possibility of that happening at any moment.” The look in his eyes told me I was sorta toast.
“Not tonight”, I said. And I smiled at him, then at my wife. “Not tonight.”
He grinned and said that sounded good to him.
They moved me to CVICU and hooked me up to a bunch of IV’s and heart monitors and they checked my lungs every 2 hours. All while cautioning me not to move. At all.
This was August, 15, 2013. (Beware the Ides of August… heh)
I was marked for the end, but I had dodged the bullet so to speak, and now they had to help me dodge it a second time.
I had a Pulmonary Embolism (a type of heart attack) and had not been aware of it happening. It had happened a few weeks earlier when I was working around the house. I suddenly became totally out of breath and had to take breaks and calm myself while doing mundane things.
We called the doctor. They diagnosed me with high blood pressure and onset Diabetes. No lung X-Ray or any attention to the fact that my pulse was near 140.
If I had been a hummingbird, I would have been flying high…
That medication did nothing for my pulse, and my blood pressure remained high.
That Thursday in August I awakened as usual with a bit of stiffness in my left leg. After taking my daughter to school, I came in from the driveway so exhausted from the short walk in that I laid down to take a short nap.
At noon I awakened to my left leg aching pretty bad. I thought I had slept on it wrong so I started to rub out the kink.
Instantly I knew something was wrong. My leg was as hard as a brick, and looking down I noticed it was also double the size of my right leg.
And it was purple.
Paramedics arrive, and they are worried looking. “It may be a DVT” one said.
Of course I thought – a DVT. What a DVT was I had no idea.
“You are going to the hospital now”, said one of them as he glanced at his partner. I could tell that they didn’t like what they saw.
On Friday we discussed options… there were some bad options. I could die with any breath. I could lose the leg. They could pump me full of a powerful blood thinner, but if I had even the tiniest ulcer or hemorrhage anywhere in my body I would bleed out.
Someone in the radiology department said they would try a very tricky, very risky surgery to isolate the blood clot and kill it in place without filling my body with deadly blood thinner.
You see, I had a DVT. A Deep Vein Thrombosis – a blood clot – in my main artery in the left leg and it was killing my leg. And me. The blood clot had broken off earlier when I had the heart attack and I had been extremely lucky.
The clot entered the heart, passed through the chambers and exited the heart into my lungs. All without getting caught or stuck or – well – killing me where I stood.
And the chances of that happening again were slim to none.
Now the DVT was being crushed by the swelling leg and would most assuredly throw another clot toward the heart.
They had to move fast.
Oh, and the blood clot I had was nearly 36CM… over 14 inches long.
I say go big or go home. Microscopic can kill, and I have one over a foot long.
Well, the surgery worked. I am no longer in dire danger.
Now the culprit. How had I gotten a 14 inch blood clot?
Sitting on my fat ass, that’s how.
I wrote three books in two years. I write every day. I shoot and edit at the computer. I took several long car trips. I flew frequently.
All of those activities are clot creating.
I have learned so much about sedentary dangers. I have no plans on having another one of these episodes. Believe me.
Sitting in one spot can let the blood ‘pool’ in your ass and your ankles. The pooling can create small clots. Many times your body will take care of them, but on the off-chance it doesn’t. You… could die.
That would turn an otherwise great day into one that sucks, ya know.
So here is the deal.
Movement is life.
Set your phone or computer to remind you to get up and move at least a few minutes per hour.
Try doing some work standing (as I am now doing this writing).
When driving longer than two hours, stop and move around at least 10 minutes per hour and a half, or less. Stop. Take a photograph. Walk around and see the world you are passing through.
On plane rides longer than three hours, make sure you move around each hour for a few minutes. At the very least, do leg exercises to move the blood.
OK, this is hard to say… I don’t want to be some sort of nag. But seriously – let’s all work a little bit harder to get in shape. Walk more, take stairs yada yada yada. (Any magazine on the mag stand will have this same stuff in it, so pick one and do it.)
I am now on the mend. my BP is back to normal, and blood sugars are looking pretty good. I have lost 23 pounds and feeling pretty good.
My memory and retention are returning. (When one has massive blood clots in the lungs, they hardly work correctly. So they weren’t making oxygen for my brain. Another side effect of the PE, along with a very nasty nasty cough.)
I have taken two walks today, and my left leg is not cramping. I have stopped coughing and my lungs are working things out with the blood clots.
So that is why I haven’t been so active on this blog for the last few weeks.
I have a lot of stuff to add to the blog, but I wanted you to know what was happening.
And I want you to move. Movement is life.