Friday, May 11, 2012

Day Eight: HOSPITALIZED for Pulmonary Embolism!

Highlights of the day:


The previous night's pain leads me to the hospital's ER where I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Embolism(PE), a condition that can be life threatening.

Why did I get PE? Because I didn't move enough, if at all, when I was home, recuperating from the double hernia surgery. I was stuck on the recliner-couch in practically one position for over four days. While not moving, blood clots accumulated and eventually shot up through my heart and into my lungs where they wreaked havoc!

I now have blood clots in my lungs and at the beginning the pain was WORSE than the strongest pain from the hernia surgery.

Details of the day:

9:00AM - I wake up without the pain on my side but coughing up more blood.

11:00AM - I call my surgeon - the one that performed the double hernia surgery - and he tells me to go to the ER IMMEDIATELY!

12:00 Noon - I arrive at the ER
12:30 - The CT scan reveals "moderate" Pulmonary Embolism in the left lung and less of it in the right lung.   What the medical community calls a "Bi-lateral Pulmonary Embolism".

Q: What can be done to fix this PE condition? A: Anticoagulant therapy.

5:00 PM -  I am admitted to the hospital, room #507. A nice room, with a single bed and a view to the South side of Colorado Springs, where I can see Cheyenne Mountain - my favorite place to mountain bike. It's difficult to be in this room, under these conditions, looking at that mountain. :-(

8:00 PM -  The on-duty doctor comes by to introduce herself and to tell me that she will only be looking at me tonight and that another doctor will be my primary caretaker during my stay, but he will be in tomorrow(Saturday).

The doctor gives me a detailed breakdown of what a Pulmonary Embolism is and what to expect in order to solve the problem. Without getting into too much detail(which can be found here), the way to heal from this condition is to undergo anticoagulant therapy.  The goal is to lower the International Normalized Ratio(INR).

In short, anticoagulant therapy will involve taking Lovenox by injection into the stomach(not as painful as it sounds) and then slowly introducing Coumadin via tablets until I can get the INR ratio between 2 and 3. The average person's INR is at 1.2; where mine currently is. But, since I now have the clots in my lungs I need to raise this factor so it sits between 2 and 3. This tweaking will be achieved with Coumadin.

The doctor also tells me that the clots in my lungs will NOT be dissolved by these medicines, but that the lungs will dissolve the clots over time. The medicine is to prevent NEW clots from forming. Clots typically form in the legs from either immobility or the body's inability to break down blood clots. Eventually these clots travel to the heart and lungs. 

She also reminds me that I am very fortunate to be alive, since clots can sometimes cause heart attacks and shut down lungs completely and kill a patient. The ratio is as high as 1 out of 3 people dying from this condition.

I will begin my anti-coagulant therapy the next morning, on Saturday.

11:30 PM - The wife, kids and grandma go home for the night. This is the first time that I've ever been hospitalized. I've had my ER experiences, but never have I had to spend one single night in the hospital. Being alone freaks me out a little bit. It finally hit me that I am HOSPITALIZED!

3:00 AM - I haven't slept a wink. The hospital room is not very quiet. In fact, it's incredibly noisy

My mind is racing and I can't sleep. I keep thinking how I brought this upon myself by not moving enough during the first days of my surgery.

Night turns into day.....and I haven't slept at all...

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