A Survivor Speaks…
This is the story of my recent diagnoses of my first DVT/PE event. I am a 49 year old husband and father of two daughters, during my time on this great planet of ours I have had 10 surgeries, 3 from two separate head trauma injuries, 4 for defects to my feet from having a disease called Charcot Marie Tooth and 3 other miscellaneous procedures. As you can tell I have spent my fare share of time in the ER and hospital beds. A good sense of humor I found was important in getting through and recovering from these events. I also never let any of this stop me from being highly active. In my youth I raced motocross and cross country motorcycles and have been racing mountain bikes and cyclecross bicycles since 1995. I stopped the bicycle racing for a few years but this was my year back and for the most part was going well until a few weeks ago.
My DVT/PE story starts with a phone call to my sister on October 29, 2013 who just happens to be a doctor. With the usual catching up on things conversation she also has a tendency to ask about any current injuries I might have. Well I said to my sister I do, I think I cracked a rib in cyclecross race on October 19, and I have a pulled muscle in my right calf that just won’t go away for more than a month. She asked more questions and than told me in her doctor voice to make an appointment with my physician the next day as a precaution, she mentioned I should get checked for DVT. I know clots can be serious as my aunt died of a PE in 2001.
So the next day I see my doctor and in less than a minute of meeting with her I am being told to go for an ultrasound. Well my tech wasn’t a very good poker player and I could tell she could see something as her face went from a smile to a blank expression every time she went over a certain section of my leg. Sure enough clots were found and I headed back to my doctors office. As soon as I arrived I was told to go to the hospital as I needed a CT Scan of my lungs. I called work and told them I wouldn’t return and I would see them tomorrow, was I wrong on that one.
Once I got to the hospital I was quickly prepped for the CT Scan, so after the scan I was asked to wait in an exam room with the IV port still in my arm. Very quickly I got a visit from a nurse explaining I needed to go to the ER immediately. Dressed in my street clothes and the IV port in my arm I was hustled off to the ER admission room. My first nurse left and the new nurse came in and quickly started with the questions and told me I needed to be prepped for an IV, I said that wasn’t needed as I put one in before I left for work that morning and rolled up my sleeve and showed her the IV port already in place. I thought she was going to fall off the chair and quickly told her that I got it when they did my CT Scan. She gave a nervous laugh and got me on the gurney. I was brought into the cardiac room and soon two nurses were around me taking vitals and drawing blood. Having been in this scene before I noticed they all had that “he’s gonna die” look in their eyes as they went about their work very seriously. I stopped one of the nurses and I said what is your name, she said Michelle. Michelle I said I am going to be ok you can smile, and with that the mood in the room changed. After some light banter with the nurses and the machines hooked up I was told the ER doc would be in to see me in a second.
When the ER doc came in she started to explain that two significant clots were found in my right leg and that I had multiple clots in the lower right and left lung and that my condition was very serious and would be ordering blood thinner injections immediately. With that I told her I would rather have a pizza, she chuckled and asked me what I like on my pizza. My wife, sister (not the doctor) and brother-inlaw soon showed up and I started filling them in on the events of the day. After 4 or 5 hours in the ER I was wheeled up to the ICU floor for 3 glorious days of observation, learning how to inject Lovenox in my stomach and twice daily blood draws. Along the way I got to meet some wonderful nurses who made my stay and early recovery the best they could.
It has been three weeks since my admission, since than I have had another full CT Scan, ultrasound, about 20 blood draws, and several trips to my internist and the hematologist. I am now on 6mg of Warfarin daily and have an event monitor for the next month as I have had some heart palpitations that can not be explained. I have also tested positive for Factor Five Liden, this will most likely put me on thinners for the rest of my life.
Like a lot of you, I also have constant fatigue now, bouts of depression and anxiety and wonder how much my life will change over the next several months. So why with all the bad do I call my story the folly of the clot? Because for every bad thing that it has thrown at me there has been a reason to smile, with every blood draw there has been someone trying make it pain free, and while my buddies are out still racing and riding in the cold Chicago fall I was able to walk around my entire neighbor without stopping a couple days ago. When next racing season comes around they better be afraid because I am going to kick their butts. They laugh too when I tell them that and with that they know I am okay.
The picture is my wife and youngest daughter at the start of this years Ore to Shore 48 mile mountain bike race in the Michigan UP. One way or another I will be there in 2014.
Be sure to connect with Tim in the comments below and read his February Athlete of the Month Feature on The Clot Buster’s Triathlete’s Blog.
Thank you, Tim, for sharing your story with BCRN.