Thursday, July 4, 2013


This week while visiting my Rheumatologist she stated,

     “You sure like to keep us on our toes.”  She was referring to all of my surprise medical issues in general, but mostly referring to my surprise hospital admission last week.

   For anyone who has spent time with me over the past few weeks you will have noted my annoying hacking cough.  It was going on for several weeks with no end in sight.  On top of the cough my leg starting hurting, not good, but I wasn’t too worried.  Monday (June 24th) I went to work and did all of the things I normally do then went to bed early since I wasn’t feeling my best and figured a good night rest would do me good.  I woke up at about 4am on Tuesday and my leg was killing me. No matter how I moved or shifted I couldn’t relieve the pain. My cough also seemed worse.  I relocated downstairs to the sofa thinking that the change in location might help.   I can’t remember if I fell back asleep or just floated restlessly in the cool semi-darkness of the living room, but when it was time to get up to go to work I felt horrible.  I had chills and felt flushed.  When I took my temperature it was 102.  My leg looked slightly swollen and I just felt like something was very wrong.  I decided that I should probably go and get checked out at the emergency room.  I have a history of having serious things wrong with my health while showing minimal symptoms so I’m always a bit on guard.

     When I first arrived, the triage nurse and the emergency room nurse seemed skeptical and seemed to think I was just being lazy about not going to my family doctor and was clogging up the ER.  They first sent me down to have an ultrasound of my leg.  Shortly after getting back to the ER the doctor came in and told me that I had a large DVT (deep vein thrombosis/blood clot) in my right leg.  Last year I had a friendly little superficial blood clot in my left leg, but my current clot was a DVT, the unfriendly can potentially kill you clot.  I was sent for a chest x-ray and then a chest CT scan.  Once the results were all back the doctor came in and sat down looking serious. She said a bunch of times throughout our conversation that she was glad that I had decided to come to the ER when I did before it was too late.  She explained that I had a pulmonary embolism.  A piece of the blood clot from my leg had broken free and was now in the lower lobe of my right lung.  Had the entire blood clot decided to move to my lung it would have killed me.  I think the doctor was waiting for me to start crying at my brush with death but my mind was appreciating this odd you might even say ironic moment.  You see, when I was 21 I was in the ER because I only had 3,000 platelets left and my blood wasn’t clotting and doctors were worried that would bleed to death at any moment.  My how times have changed, of course I am extremely happy to be alive through that experience and this one.  A few years ago a co-worker died from a pulmonary embolism so I know I am quite fortunate. 

     I was told that I would have to be admitted and that I could no longer walk and had to be still until my blood was sufficiently thinned to be sure the clot no longer had intentions of moving.  I waited for a few more hours in the ER until a room could be secured.  I was grateful it was a Tuesday so I could be comforted by a marathon of Law and Order SVU. Eventually I was moved to floor 3B to my lovely nice single room.

This wasn’t my first hospital admission, but it was my first stay at the new Virtua Voorhees.  If you have to be admitted into the hospital it isn’t a bad place to be.  I have to start out by saying that everyone was super nice.  It was almost as if they adapted the Disney World staff handbook to use with hospital staff.  Even the housekeeping and room service staff were attentive and pleasant.  Speaking of room service, it definitely made a difference.  Instead of getting a little card prior to meals with maybe, three choices like most hospitals offer at the new Virtua you get a room service menu. 
You call a number and you can order food from the menu whenever you want throughout the day.  When they deliver the food they knock on your door and say, “room service,” like you are at a fancy hotel.  Some of the food items were better than others but it was certainly an upgrade from most hospital fare.
This was my grilled cheese lunch one day

The oatmeal cookies were really good, so I got one with every meal except breakfast.
I had a very nice view from my window, though I couldn’t really appreciate it since I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed until my last day.
They low jacked me during my visit.  I wasn't sure if they were worried I would escape or if I was in danger of being kidnapped but when they took me down one afternoon for another test I imagined myself as a little moving dot on a screen. Beep - blink - beep -blink - beep....
My co-workers sent me my favorite flowers, sunflowers to brighten up my room.  It was fun because the flowers seemed to brighten up everyone’s day who came into my room.  I’m glad lots of people got to enjoy them.
This was my fancy necklace, which was actually a heart monitor that I had to wear my whole stay.  I started to know how that albatross guy felt.  Also that gluey stuff from the electrodes is impossible to scrub off once you are home.
     They gave me lots of IV heparin and then switched me to shots which I had no problem self-injecting thanks to 3 rounds of IVF. I was also taking oral blood thinner and they gave me two IV infusions of iron since my labs showed that my iron was low.  I’m usually used to watching clear fluids move through my IV so the color of the iron was a little unnerving.  I still wake up every morning and check myself for any possible mutations (I want to be a shape shifter like Mystique if I had a choice).
Once the doctors were satisfied that my blood was sufficiently thin and that I was no longer in danger I was allowed to go home with instructions to self-inject shots until Monday, oral blood thinner for the next six months and I had to get labs everyday for one week and then twice a week for the next six months.
Shots at home
I now have a new hematologist who will be following me.  He ran a lot of specialized labs that won’t be back for a few weeks but the theory is that the clot was episodic, which means I won’t have to be on blood thinners forever.
What most people don’t know is that in May I found out that I was pregnant.  No drugs, no procedures, just old fashioned conception.  It came as quite a shock since we were told there was almost no chance we could conceive on our own.  I didn’t find out until I was 5 weeks.  At 5 weeks everything looked fine but when I went back at 7 weeks the ultrasound showed that the pregnancy had shut down at 5 weeks.  It had never progressed past that point and it was no longer a viable pregnancy.  I opted to have the pregnancy extracted so that pathology could be done to see if genetic issues caused the pregnancy loss.  All of the results came back 100% normal.  No genetic issues at all.  The theory is that the pregnancy triggered the blood clot; that when my estrogen is high it flips on a switch that hyper-coagulates my blood. There is still a lot of figuring out to do but I would rather have an episodic blood clot than a I have to be on blood thinners forever clot, though blood thinners forever is preferable to death.
For now I’ve been resting as much as I can.  I still have the annoying cough from my lung tissue being irritated by the clot but at least my leg hurts less and feels much better.  My biggest complaint is that I have extreme fatigue at the moment which has made me grumpy because if you haven’t noticed I love being active and out and about and all of the sleeping is getting old.  It is especially difficult during a weekend when there are lots of fun festivities going on and I'm just home  making myself depressed by watching House Hunters Beachfront Homes.  Hopefully the sleepiness will pass and I’ll soon be out and about once again. 


  1. Wow. What an adventure. You logged it all so well. You must be some kind of shape shifter or mystical person to have gone through all that and still be so upbeat. My new name for you is Sunflower Sarah.

  2. I am so happy things turned out well. Thank you for sharing this with us.