the value of being informed

So.  Yesterday in the mail I received the summer issue of cure , a quarterly publication on cancer updates, research and education.  Normally I just scan the issues for BC info and then maybe read more later….but yesterday, for some reason, as soon as it hit my sweaty little palms I read the thing from cover to cover.  It was particularly interesting to read a small article titled: Bad Block.  Being aware of the dangers of deep vein thrombosis.  Deep vein thrombosis is commonly known as blood clots to your legs.

The opening line of the second paragraph caught my attention….”In cancer patients, research has shown around 50 percent have DVT (deep vein thrombosis) at some point.   Symptoms of DVT include pain, swelling, tenderness…..Sometimes there are no symptoms.” 

It continued on with causes, such as

  • “most chemotherapy drugs can be associated with a risk of DVT because they can damage blood vessel linings…”
  • Hormonal therapies “are common culprits”
  • Other risk factors are things such as blood transfusions, having a port-a-cath, recent surgery , serious infections, injury or surgery to the legs,and/or being subjected to bed rest

Mostly, I found the article interesting because my husband, Lou, has been dealing with DVT for three months and another friend was diagnosed just days ago with blood clots in the legs as well.  Of course during my recent hospitalization for the TRAM Flap operation I almost constantly had on either compression stockings or those funny inflatable leg cuffs that constantly squeeze and release your calves to prevent the formation of blood clots.

Then I read other articles.  Went on with my day.  Took a nice long nap in the cool air on the front porch all snuggled up with a blanket.  Made an easy dinner for Charlie.  Looked at the newly finished renovations the basement.  Just generally floated around the house doing a little organizing.  That article kept coming up in my mind as the evening wore on.  I began thinking about a general sense of discomfort I had been having in my left leg for a few days, a kind of general achiness.  Finally as I got settled in for my bedtime reading I picked it up again and read it, then looked down at my left foot and leg to see…a really swollen ankle, foot, calf and knee.  Shit.  Read some more.  Jumped on the internet for a little quick research.  Thought to myself, “Am I crazy?  Have I talked myself into this DVT somehow?”  Feeling like an alarmist so late at night, I emailed super nurse Suzi who provided very useful suggestions and a follow-up call to Primary Care Physician first thing in the morning.  Of course, I followed her directions to the letter.

Then I read more about the dangers of DVT.  Mainly, the biggest concern is a hunk of clot breaking off in the vein and moving to the lung. Then if that happens it is called  ” a pulmonary embolism which is a very serious condition that can cause death.”  I read that sentence a few times before I started to cry…..  Being so scared so late at night sucks.  All I could think was….”so what now?  I get over cancer and then I’m gonna die in my sleep from a stupid blood clot?!”

So this morning I saw a doctor.  He sent me to get a Venous Doppler test, a kind of Ultrasound of the entire leg.  The news wasn’t good.  Extensive blood clots in my left leg.  Go straight to the hospital.  That was at 2:30 this afternoon. 

Now I’m in St. Luke’s Hospital, have already had the first blood thinning drug, Coumadin and am waiting for my second drug, Lovenox.  This one they usually teach you to inject yourself in the fatty portion of your belly, except for now…..with the TRAM Flap surgery, there is no fatty section of my belly, and anyways, I’ve had enough done there.  No more interference there.  With any luck, I won’t have to stay overnight.  I hope not.  The doc-in-the-box I saw at 5:30 said I could go home tonight.  Now it’s 9:00 and I’m still waiting for an injection.  Sigh.

I am so ready for this chapter of the book to be over.


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