Monday, January 23, 2012

It Must Be the Bike

I hardly know where to begin but from what I gather I'm very blessed, lucky, call it what you will, to be around. Maybe that's overstating it. I don't know.

I woke up two Saturday mornings ago with a tightness in my ribs on my left side. I dismissed it as a pulled muscle from some firewood I'd lifted the previous night. A few days later the pain was still there and it wasn't getting better. I mentioned it to Tammy and she suggested I go in to be seen. Tammy is a telephone triage nurse and this is the sort of thing she deals with all the time. I knew she was right but I wanted to believe that whatever it was it would go away on its own.

I should've listened to her.

We went out to Mall of America Friday night to kick around for a while; the usual...grab some coffees, walk a couple of laps and find a restaurant for dinner. Throughout the night I was finding myself taking deeper than normal breaths trying to ease the discomfort I was feeling on the left side of my chest, being careful not to let Tammy notice. I was also trying to stretch the tightness away but none of my attempts were helping. By the time we left for our car, I knew something was wrong. We stopped at the liquor store on the way home for a bottle of wine and while Tammy went inside I moved over to the passenger seat to let her drive. I was no longer in any condition to be behind the wheel. She suggested we go to urgent care and followed that up by stating that if I was calling the nurse-line she'd be instructing me to go to the emergency room. "Let's go there," I said putting a stop to my stupidity of the last several days.

When we arrived in the ER they wasted no time in attending to me. After listening to a brief synopsis of what I'd been experiencing the doctor ordered a blood draw to perform a D-dimer test that would detect evidence of a blood clot. He told us that he didn't expect those results to be positive considering my age and my vital signs but he wanted to be able to rule it out.

Positive they were.

The next step and one that would exacerbate my pain greatly was the CT. Laying in a prone position with my arms above my head while trying to hold my breath waiting for the image to be captured was so difficult. The pain was intense.

I know pain. I deal with Cluster headaches yearly.

I was diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary embolus (a blood clot in each lung). The doctor referred to them as large. I wasn't sure what to think and it was getting late. We'd arrived at the ER around 8:30 and it was now after 2:00 in the morning. My body was tired but my mind was racing. It had been a long day for Tammy and she needed to go home to let the pups out. She kissed me goodnight and closed the door behind her as I sat on the edge of the bed.

I tried making light of my condition and posted to my Facebook wall updating my status with a pain-masked-by-morphine smiling photo from the ER. Alone with my thoughts for the first time I recognized that all I knew about clots was that they sometimes caused sudden death. Could that be me? With the charge in my cellphone running low I did a quick search online and what I read about pulmonary embolisms didn't do anything to allay my fears. I texted Tammy "I'm a little scared honey...should I be?" She responded, "What's going on?" I told her "Nothing...I'm just worried" "Call me, ok?"

She drove back to my room at the Ridges and we spent the night together. I needed her reassuring presence.

The next morning an ultrasound revealed that there was an additional clot in my upper right thigh. What's the reason for all of this I wondered? The doctor assured me that for someone in my physical condition the cause was one of two things: I either have a predisposition for developing clots or my body suffered some recent trauma that resulted in the clotting. The only thing I could point to was my Mukluk. I've taken so many falls on it in the month that I've had it that surely it must be the reason. More tests are being done as I write this that will help to determine if I am in fact prone to clotting. If not, then it must be the bike.

To be continued...


Jackie said...

What an ordeal! All I can say is thank God for Tammy and the Drs at the Ridges. The outcome may have not been so pretty. You are indeed a lucky guy. I know it is going to be difficult to be sidelined like this but it will be a small price to pay for repairing your health. I know you will come up with some other creative passion to fill your always have something on the back burner. So heres to a few months of taking life a bit slower & healing your body. There are many of us who want you around for a long time to come. We love you!

Kevin said...

For sure! The help at the Ridges was so incredible...I'll be writing about them in my next entry.

Yes, we do have our hobbies to occupy our free time so that will help plus it's nice knowing that this isn't an end to my riding, just an interruption.

Thanks for your kind words!