Greetings from the ninth floor of Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. This Sunday some 3,500 people will run down below in their annual SummeRun for ovarian cancer, but I may still be stuck up here.
How come? It started with pain in my right calf for a few days. I thought it was a pulled muscle. Then, last night, while getting ready for bed, I noticed my calf was swollen and warm to the touch, and I had a slight fever. Quite unusual. Then a call to the nurse and a call from the doctor conveyed their worry about something serious – deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – or clots in my leg. If the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs it’s bad news, and can even be fatal. They urged me to go to the ER for an ultrasound to see what was going on.
The test revealed two clots. One in the painful calf. One in the other leg which had no pain. There was no question. I was being admitted to the hospital for two to three days for a course of blood thinners. And there was one other capper. The bronchitis I had a couple of weeks ago wasn’t cured. That dry cough was pneumonia.
So here I sit, writing you, getting my lungs fixed up and the clots dissolved, I hope. I had produced a patient education program on DVT’s awhile back with a world expert. Now I am living the experience myself. You can listen to that program here: http://www.patientpower.info/program/deep-vein-thrombosis-knowing-your-risk-for-blood-clots
As my nurse, Salih, explained, “Better safe than sorry.” Yes, I am sitting around waiting for the blood thinners to work and being monitored so the dosage is just right for the next many months. But not taking precautions would be unsafe and being six feet under the grass rather than nine floors above it doesn’t sound like a desirable option.
DVT’s can happen to people at any age and for a variety of reasons – some unknown. If you have pain or swelling in a leg (like two millions American do each year), get it checked right away. It could be lifesaving. Boring treatment, maybe. But you will soon be active once again.
About the author: Andrew Schorr is a medical journalist, cancer survivor and founder of Patient Power, a one-of-a-kind company dedicated to bringing in-depth information to patients with cancer and chronic illness. Audio and video programs, as well as transcripts, help patients make informed decisions to support their health in partnership with their medical team. Patient Power is at www.PatientPower.info and on Facebook. Schorr is also the author of “The Web Savvy Patient: An Insider's Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis." http://www.websavvypatient.com/
Edited by Shannon Koehle