Now We’re Getting Nowhere

The DVT/pulmonary embolism recovery marches on. No setbacks so far, knock wood.

Today I ran some errands in the car. I was not the least bit tired nor did I experience any shortness of breath. The spirometer indicates that my lung capacity is still lower than normal but there is no huffing and puffing and my heart rate isn’t jumping into the red zone with minor exertion.

Only a few days ago, I was having difficulty getting the spirometer up to 2,000 ml. Last night and today I hit or exceeded 2,500. I still can’t hold it in my lungs for than a second though.

After lolling around most of the day, I went into the basement for a riding and reading session. Today I lasted 1:03 and I pedaled much harder than yesterday. So I am calling the “mileage” at 12 miles.

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I was not the least bit uncomfortable during the ride. I didn’t feel that sharp pain in my left calf as I did yesterday. And there were no stabbing pains in my right lung.

I may be going nowhere but I’m getting somewhere.

I made appointments to see a hematologist and a pulmonologist in the coming weeks. The pulmonologist saw me in the hospital. She’s calming and is a good communicator. I will not be using hematologist from the hospital. He made it clear that he’s inclined to keep me on blood thinners for life. I want a second opinion. My doctor thinks very highly of a hematologist in his building so I am going with his recommendation.

 

 

 

Basement Riding to the Mendoza Line

At the doctor’s office yesterday, I weighed 203 pounds, six pounds more than on the very same scale a month ago. Perhaps it is a coincidence but in the last six days I have downed six apple fritters, prescribed by the mental health professionals Rachel C. and Katie B. Suffice it to say, my pants are fitting a tad snuggly. My mood is good though.

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As has been the case since I came home from the hospital, I felt a little better today physically. It snowed overnight. As much as I wanted to go out and shovel the inch of powder, Mrs. Rootchopper would have nothing of it and handled the chore with ease.

For most of the day I hung out reading and waiting for the mechanic to call about Mrs. Rootchopper’s car. The year and a half old battery died. Completely. It won’t even hold a charge. So the mechanics put in a new one. Then they checked the oil and found the dipstick dry. Oops. I hope this is not the beginning of old car syndrome, the affliction that kills both your car and your bank account.

While waiting for the mechanic to finish, I went into the basement and rode Big Nellie. It was my first ride or exercise of any sort since the embolism. I took it easy and noted a number of interesting things:

  • My megamileage base will serve me well. My legs were not the least bit stressed.
  • I felt a distinct cramping in my left calf. I never cramp so I am assuming that what I was feeling was the deep vein thrombosis, the source of the blood clots in my lungs. So there you are you little bugger.
  • About 25 minutes into the ride, I felt the familiar stabbing pain in my right lung. I backed off my pedaling, dropped to a lower gear, and the pain went away. (It’s a 3 out of 10 on the objective pain scale.)
  • I felt numbness in my calves. Since I have nerve issues in my legs whenever I ride my recumbent I thought nothing of it. The numbness went away once I stood up and walked around for a minute.

As I rode I read my book. Oddly, I read much faster when I am spinning my legs than when I am just sitting in a chair. I put the reading to a secondary use. I spent one page on each cog, going up and down the cassette in the middle ring. Then I shifted to the big ring and did the same. At no time was I out of breath but my heart rate was higher than normal for the effort I was putting out.

Big Nellie in the Basement
Big Nellie, Locked and Loaded

All told, I rode 52 minutes. I’d say the equivalent of about 8 1/2 miles at the pace I was going (about 10 miles per hour).

It’s not much, but it’s a start. Now that all the fritters are gone (oink) I can hope to gradually increase my time and intensity on the bike and drift ever so gently back below the Mendoza line.

 

 

 

Two Weeks. One Lung. One Expensive Cat.

Happy anniversary to my blood clots

Well, tonight is the two week anniversary of my pulmonary embolism(s). I think we should throw them a party then show them the door. They’ve stayed too long.

My energy levels continue to incrementally improve. I can actually feel the blockage in my right lung. Deep breaths are rewarded with a stabbing pain.

Today was a normal retiree day filled with car-based errands. I went to the drug store to drop off a prescription (for blood thinner). Then I went to a DMV to get a sticker for my son’s car. The DMV was closed yesterday so the wait was well over an hour. I bailed and went to my doctor’s office. The poor man! I hit him with so many questions. He answered them all with ease.

I am not in danger of throwing another blood clot as long as I am on my medication. If I hit my head, I am to stop taking my medication and go to the nearest ER for a CT scan of my brain. A head injury could turn into an epidural hematoma, runaway bleeding inside my skull. It is the injury that killed Natasha Richardson after she hit her head while skiing.

We’re having fun now!

Any other significant hits to my body below my head require a trip to the doctor just in case.

The doctor said that the team at the hospital speculated that my pulmonary embolism may have occurred on my bike trip. Now that I think about it, the only time I have had a significant fall was when I tumbled off the porch at a motel near the end of the ride. Did I whack my left calf during the fall? This would be good news because it would indicate that my embolism was a freak accident not something systematically wrong with my body.

At the doctor, a nurse took my pulse. It was 68. I told her it was very high and she said it’s perfectly normal. Normal for me is in the 40s. So just the act of walking from my car to the elevator and from the elevator to the doctor’s office caused my pulse to increase. This will give you some idea of how my body is coping. The doctor said it’s okay to exercise but that I should take it easy and listen to my body. At the moment my body is saying “watch a movie.”

Speaking of my body, I’ve gained 6 pounds in a month. Fritters and cookies and candies, oh my. Mario Mendoza phone home.

The spirometer and I are still not getting along. I am thinking about switching to a bong. (If only!)

My doctor had some samples of my blood thinning medication so I am good to go after losing a week’s supply somehow last week. They go great with corn flakes.

I am to follow up with a hematologist and a pulmonary specialist. No hurry though. This whole recover will take a few months.

I am scheduled for an ultrasound of my abdomen to check out the nodules on my kidney and adrenal gland that the CT scan discovered. On a scale of one to ten, my doctor’s concern level is barely a two.

After the doctor, I went back to the DMV without any luck. The wait was two hours! I gave up and drove home. After all this running around, I felt fine with no exhaustion like last week.

And now for something completely different

My favorite blogger these days is Blissful Britt. Britt hikes and travels and takes terrific photos and lip syncs (hilariously) on Instagram. While hiking in Arizona her cat fell ill. She okayed the cat’s medical care, because you wouldn’t want to come home to a dead cat now, would you?

The bill came to $5,000! Alas, Brittany doesn’t have that kind of, forgive the expression, scratch. So she launched a gofundme page. If you are in a giving mood or like cats or like crazy bloggers with cats, she could use a little help.

 

 

A Sort of Boring Day

Enough with this sitting at home nonsense. Today, I had Mrs. Rootchopper’s car towed to a mechanic to have its electrical system fixed. I followed in my son’s car.

After that I went to the drug store for a couple of prescriptions. I lost 1/2 of my blood thinning pills somehow. I think they probably got swept up in post-Christmas kitchen table cleaning and are now somewhere in the landfill in Lorton. It’s kind of important that I get some more. The pharmacy has called and faxed the prescribing doctor to no avail. The doctor specifically warned me not to miss a dose and said I should let him know if I misplace any of the pills. I have three left, enough to get through Thursday morning.

Tomorrow I get three bites at this apple. I will call the prescribing doctor myself and explain the situation. Later in the morning, I am going to see my personal doctor. Maybe he can fix this. My final option is to simply fill the follow-up prescription, which is a different dosage. I think I can tweak the timing so I get through the next week without a calamity. Good thing it’s only a life threatening situation. American medicine really is effed up.

After the pharmacy, I refueled my car. What the heck? Oh yeah. I don’t do this very often. I didn’t even remember which side of the car the gas tank was on.

Next up was the hospital. As I was being discharged, a doctor told me I’d need an MRI and that this would be arranged for me. That was 10 days ago. I haven’t heard from the MRI facility. I have no idea which doctor is submitting the order. In fact, the hospital didn’t give me a list of which doctors saw me. After walking all over the damned place huffing and puffing all the while, I found medical records. They gave me a list of specialists. I am sure the list in incomplete but it’s a start.

After all this was over, I put the expiration sticker on my son’s car license plate. Only one stuck. So tomorrow I get to go to the DMV to get a replacement. We’re having fun now.

Back inside the house I started to read my book (Beartown by Fredrik Backman)  Mrs. Rootchopper came home and fell asleep in a comfy chair. Now I know I am getting better. Despite the fact that I had a pretty normal day of running around from one place to the next, I managed not to need a nap.

I am also pretty consistently hitting above 2,000 ml on the spirometer.

I think this is a pretty boring blog post. After all the drama, boring is good.

 

 

 

 

2017 – Big Numbers. Flat Finish

Dang, I banged out a pretty good year on the bike: 9,911.5 miles, nearly 20 percent more than my previous best year (2016). Take that old age!chart

September was a whopper because of the bike tour to Florida. My highest mileage month ever. October was pretty darn good too. December was a belly flop. I had to stop riding with two weeks to go because of a pulmonary embolism or embolisms. (I’m still trying to get the lingo down.)

I got hit by an SUV at the end of March. I bounced off like some sort of Zen Tigger.

I rode my bikes to work 133 times for a total of 3,912 miles until I gave bike commuting  up in August. (I retired.)

I rode only 103.5 miles indoors. (Yeah, I count those miles too.)

My Cross Check led the stable with 3,449.5 miles. The Mule, my 26-year old touring bike, came in second with 3,400.5 miles.

My Tour Easy recumbent gets used less and less each year. It’s not supposed to work that way, but if I don’t ride it all the time it’s just hard to get into the mental and physical mindset.

My most notable event rides were the Reston Century, in which I earned lanterne rouge status. What a pathetic ride. And I rode my ninth 50 States Ride with Stephen, Kevin W., Rachel C., Michael B., and Emilia. Thanks for waiting for me guys. Rachel has already laid down the challenge for me to ride my tenth in 2018.

Recent events have caused me to hit the pause button on planning for 2018. All I can do for now is focus on my recovery. The bicycling will take care of itself.

It is what it is.

Happy New Year.