I let the cat out of the bag earlier today on Twitter and Facebook, but, in case you didn’t hear the news, I went to my hematologist today. Based on the scans of my lungs, heart, and left leg, I am totally clear of blood clots. My blood work looked totally normal.
So he took me off Xarelto, the blood thinning medication I have been on for nearly five months. He told me to take a small dose of aspirin every day and to wear compression socks if I fly. I can now drink alcohol again, too.
He wished me well on my bike trip.
Lift off in two weeks.
To recap, on December 20 of last year, I had a backache while having dinner with my family. The pain increased so we went to the emergency room the next night. The doctors discovered that my back pain was caused by blood clots in my lungs, pulmonary embolisms. These clots had come from a larger clot that had formed in my lower left calf. This larger clot is called a deep vain thrombosis.
The clots blocked blood flow to my lungs. My right lung collapsed.
To keep additional clots from forming I was prescribed Xarelto, a powerful blood thinner.
In early February, about six weeks after my trip to the ER, I had a CT scan of my chest. My lungs were free of clots.
Today, I went to have an ultrasound examination of my left leg. The scan showed that the DVT was dissolved and there is no apparent residual damage to the veins in my legs.
Next week I go back to the hematologist to discuss next steps.
From where I sit, I am now back to normal health. My bike tour starts in 20 days.
About a month ago I had a bunch of tests done to determine if I had some blood or DNA abnormality that caused my body to form a deep vein thrombosis (i.e., big blood clot) in my left calf. This DVT at some point became disrupted and send blot clots to my heart which sent them into my lungs where they stuck. Had they continued on into my brain, I might not be pushing up daisies.
I went to the hematologist today for the results.
“You are normal.”
In truth, the tests revealed a couple of genetic mutations, but nothing that could have caused the pulmonary embolisms last December.
So after hundreds of $$$ we have a definitive answer to the question: “What caused these PEs?)” Answer: “Dunno.”
My hematologist says that unless he finds a specific cause for my illness he is inclined to discontinue the blood thinners and put me on an daily aspirin instead.
I go to see my pulmonologist in mid-April. She’s probably going to vote to keep me on the thinners.
In early May I have an ultrasound scheduled to see if I my DVT is gone (the body absorbs DVTs). Then another hematologist visit to discuss the findings. With any kind of luck, this entire medical mess will be in my rear view mirror by the time I pedal out of DC for the west coast in late May.
One other interesting thing happened since my last update. Yesterday, I was riding my bike with my head down and a tree branch whacked my helmet. A blow to the head while on blood thinners can cause run away bleeding in my skull. This would cause my brain to get compressed and displaced. The chances of dying from this are high.
I described the incident to my hematologist. He told me that since the branch deflected off my helmet and didn’t cause so much as a bruise, I should be fine.
And so it goes.
We’re having fun now.
It’s been four weeks since my cardiovascular system mutinied. I feel perfectly fine. I plan on going for a long-ish ride tomorrow. I plan on not dying.
My body has recently decided that it’s not through screwing with me. I was up half the night with a pain in my foot. It’s the return of my Morton’s neuroma. (It’s an inflamed nerve that runs several inches between and behind my “ring” and middle toes. It felt like someone was sticking a knife in my foot.
The nerve finally calmed down after a couple of hours. I swear I could hear snickering coming from my foot.
Today I went to the dentist for my semi-annual exercise in mindfulness. I HATE going to the dentist. I get all tense expecting intense pain while my teeth are being cleaned. This is not without reason. I have had some pretty unpleasant dental visits including the time the endodontist prepared to close off the hole in my front tooth from which he had removed my root. The problem was that he removed only half the root. There was still a live nerve in the hole. I literally jumped out of the seat. He said, “That wasn’t supposed to happen.” I kicked him in the balls and said “Neither was that!”
Okay I lied about the kick in the balls. But the pain went straight up my nose into my brain. It was an Olivier/Hoffman Marathon Man moment. (Ironically, I ran marathons at the time.)
The blood thinner has caused my gums to get all inflamed in the past week. I tried a home remedy that seemed to calm things down. I just put mouthwash in my mouth and hold it along my gum line. It stings but the gums waved a white flag.
The cleaning today went much better than expected. Occasionally during the cleaning something would hurt. My hands tensed up waiting for that jump-out-of-the-chair moment. So, and here’s the mindfulness part, I focused on the fact that the pain was insignificant. I consciously relaxed my hands which relaxed my arms and my shoulders. And reminded myself that I am just anticipating pain that will probably not arise. And every time I found my hands clenching, I’d just repeat the routine.
It sounds pretty weird but it worked.
So my body tried to get me again but my brain triumphed. Until the dentist came in and said words I hadn’t heard in ten years: “You have a cavity.”
I go to the dermatologist next week. Do you think maybe I should reschedule?