Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Be Careful Not to Hit Your Head

This is a continuation to a post I wrote last night about being admitted to the hospital over the weekend.

I finally drifted off sometime after 5:30 Saturday morning to be awoken a little more than an hour later and wheeled through the catacomb of hallways that make up Ridges Hospital for an appointment with an ultrasound technician. She spent twenty minutes going over every inch of my legs in search of more clots. I asked her if she could tell me if she found anything but she said she couldn't discuss the results with me. I was taken back to my room and under a haze of Oxycodone and Morphine, unwilling or unable to sleep I sat up in bed pretty much numb to the world around me.

Well-wishes by the dozens were coming in on my Facebook wall and they did a lot to brighten my day. I wanted to respond to them but I didn't have the strength.

It's so easy to become self-centered in a crisis such as this but I was trying to remember that I wasn't going through it alone. Tammy was by my side every step of the way and I knew Rachel was concerned. She saw my Facebook update and texted both of us: "Id like to be in the loop about this whole hospital business. So someone call me when u can."

The doctor assigned to the floor stopped by our room Saturday afternoon and spent at least 45 minutes with us explaining in detail all that had happened and what to expect going forward. He also told us of a clot the ultrasound technician had found in the upper thigh of my right leg. It was more disturbing news that I would have to try and figure out a way to accept. 'We're not talking terminal cancer...this is not that bad' was all I could think.

The main focus it seemed was in getting my pain under control. No matter what they tried, the sharp stabbing pains typical of those associated with PE were ever present and made it nearly impossible to sleep. I finally managed to drift off sometime around midnight until the pain returned at 4:00 AM. Little did I know that I was done sleeping for the night as the nursing staff did all they could to provide me with relief but nothing seemed to help. I was a complete mess!

We anticipated that I'd be going home late Sunday but the doctor came by Sunday afternoon and said he was keeping me there until Monday or until my pain was better under control. I had no argument for him and was content to remain where I was. Mainlining morphine when it's needed was key and I didn't want to lose access to that supply.

Tammy and I had been discussing the issue of riding my bike once I'd made a recovery. My assumption was that I'd be able to but she wasn't so sure so we asked the doctor and he was very clear. He felt that my time on the bike was very beneficial for me and he wanted to see me resume my riding (not the falling) but that it would have to wait until I was done with my coumadin therapy; anywhere from 3 to 9 months. I simply can't afford to have an incident where I suffer a blow to my head because of increased risk of an uncontrollable brain hemorrhage. Biking is out of the question. I assumed that I could ride my rollers but even those aren't acceptable because they pose the same risk. I'll have to be content with a stationary trainer and other forms of exercise.

I have to take a few lines to say that the staff at Ridges Hospital were amazing! Both the ER and the hospital staff. They couldn't have made our stay more comfortable and we're so thankful for the warmth they showed us. You could tell that they genuinely care about the well-being of their patients. To them, it was more than just a job. I thought about my own work and felt a little guilty for not having anywhere near the passion for my profession as they show for theirs. We were so impressed. Oh, and the food was much better than I anticipated it being!

I woke up Monday morning feeling like a new person. My pain was under control and I'd been able to sleep through the night. I was happy to be going home but I was also very grateful for my stay at Ridges and the care I'd received. In my debriefing with the doctor he said I was free to carry on life as I had been before this episode but he cautioned me to "be careful not to hit your head." They were simple but important words of wisdom. We said goodbye to the staff sometime late morning and they let me walk out under my own power guided along by Tammy.

I just had a follow-up visit with my regular doctor as I write this and I have just a little more bad news to add to all I've written. I was told by the doctor who discharged me yesterday that there was a good chance I'd be on coumadin therapy for only 3 months meaning I'd miss very little of this year's riding season. To my disappointment today my doctor said no; that when he's treating for PE, (clots in the lung) coumadin therapy must be for 12 months, no less.

Things could always be worse, I get that.


Anonymous said...

Hey Kevin it is Rob. I am so sorry to hear about your condition. Thank goodness Tammy was there. It is very scary but I am sure you will make a full recovery. How does one check for "predilection for PE"?

Ours thoughts are with you, Tammy and Rachel.


Kevin said...

Rob, here's a site I found that explains a lot about blood and clots. Scroll down a little and it will discuss the tests involved in determining if someone is at risk for clotting too quickly or not quickly enough.

The test results they're performing on my blood aren't back yet but I can pretty much pinpoint to the fall that caused me to be where I am today...

Stupid fall!

Tim said...

Hope you feel better soon, Kev!

Does this mean there's going to be a Mukluk for sale soon?...

Kevin said...

Rob and Tim,

Thanks for your kind words. I'm on the mend and really have little to complain about. I know I'll struggle with a mild depression when the warm weather comes around and I can't ride but such is life.

I had a weak moment today where I pondered selling the Mukluk but I snapped out of it quickly when I realized how quickly 12 months goes by.

Alistair said...

Jings Kevin what a story - and what a salutory lesson for us males who behave like ostriches all the time. Glad to hear you're on the mend after your ordeal in hospital.

Take care man - and for Christs sake - listen to the doctor no matter how tempting a bike ride may be!

Kevin said...

Thanks, Alistair...I'm quite certain I won't be found on my bike for another year unless it's on a stationary trainer but how about in my dreams? I dreamt last night that I was on my fat-tire Mukluk riding it to work and having a blast in the process. I think that's two out of the last three nights where I've dreamt I was riding. They're some very nice dreams too!

Good to hear from you again!