Friday, August 23, 2013

From The Glad To Be Alive Dept.

Some of you know I've been having trouble catching my breath recently and that I've been going to doctors over the last three weeks to figure out why.

We figured out why when I went to the emergency room on Wednesday morning. I was having SERIOUS trouble catching my breath, I was sweating, delirious... It was bad. Really bad. My first visit to a doctor I was only pulling in 93% oxygen where healthy people are pulling 98 - 100%. When we got to the ER on Wednesday, my level was 84%. That's seriously awful.

Cheers to the nurses who really run things. 
Two hours, some chest x-rays, an echocardiogram, EKGs, a CT scan of my chest and dozens of people later, I was told I had 'massive, bilateral pulmonary embolism' in both lungs. That is, both lungs were a haven for dozens of blood clots. On a scale of 1 to 10, this was as serious as a stroke or a heart attack. The catch was, this had been creeping up on me for a month prior, maybe a little longer. That's why I was seeing my primary doctor, a recommended cardiologist, and radiology doctors who put me on a treadmill and gave me a stress test for my heart.

The next day I landed in the Emergency Room, otherwise plans were being put in place to send me to a pulmonologist. Instead, she came to see me in the ER and I was admitted to the hospital's Intensive Care Unit. They gave me some super-clot-buster medicine (usually for those who've just suffered strokes or heart attacks) and with the help of external oxygen being pumped in through my nose I started to get better.

The ER team and the ICU crew were AMAZING. The first thing I noticed was that each of them seemed to want to be there, doing the job they were doing. There was lots of joking. When I asked them why they quizzed me on my name and birthdate Every Single Time They Did Something ("Is it to ensure that I'm lucid?") I was told "No. We just want to annoy you."  And as I was being discharged today the nurse came back needing to take one last read of my vital signs. As she checked my temperature and blood pressure she said. "You're not really going home. We like to keep the good patients. That way we never get a bad one."

Trust me that these were funny things I needed to hear.

Anyway, I'm home now and I'm on the mend. "Alive and kicking" I told someone. The lesson that I'm taking away from this is that I should have gone to a doctor sooner than I did, but it still might not have made a difference. Every doctor who'd looked at me was thinking asthma. I was thinking asthma and so was my wife. No one considered blood clots. I didn't fit the profile for it: no history and none of the other markers. It shows how little we really know, despite everything we think we know.

I'm 45 years old and now I have a primary doc, a cardiologist and a pulmonologist. I'm too young for this. I'm on a blood thinner I could be on for the rest of my life and that entails a whole other ball of wax in regards to regular life, too. I can't help but wonder if my body is out of warranty and breaking down bit by bit or if it's merely the luck of the draw. I don't know and neither does the team that saved me.

But I'm damn glad I'm alive to have these people when I need them.

8 comments:

R.L. Naquin said...

So many things to say on this. Let's start of with "Holy shit, Jason."

As bad as this is, I'm glad it wasn't your heart like they thought. Seems like lungs repair easier than hearts. I am so, so glad you're okay. That's terrifying.

And finally, heal up, so I can kick your ass. We obviously need a better system in place to notify the group when somebody is in the hospital. Jeez.

Get to feeling better, buddy. I'm glad you're on the mend.

Jason Arnett said...

Thanks, Rachel!

I'm glad it wasn't my heart, too, but it took some damage trying to pump oxygen through all the clots so we're all staying on top of that, too. I'm healing pretty quickly mostly because I'm young enough to heal that quickly. It could have been much, much worse.

I did keep it quiet on purpose, though. I was scared and I couldn't answer a lot of questions. I promise to tell anyone who wants to buy me a drink in a month or so the whole, weird story.

Ashley Poland said...

I'm going to second the "Holy shit!" Really glad that you were able to get help, and so sorry that it took such a dark turn. <3

Wendy said...

Bloody hell! Very sorry to hear about this, Jason.

I suspect it's just the luck of the draw. No rhyme nor reason sadly.
Take care of yourself and keep your chin up.

Oh, and applause for the medical team. What would we do without them?

pls said...

Keep kickin', Jason. Very glad to hear that you survived this scare. Please take good care of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Grats and God Bless. If you ever have questions you forget to ask the doc, ask your local pharmacist (me) %)

Chad B said...

^ oops, forgot to post my name. You can just message on Facebook any time.

sarawriter said...

Scary, scary stuff, Jason. My mom was having trouble with oxygen when she was really sick and I remember the constant checking of the % of oxygen she was getting. Those nurses kept her alive for two weeks longer than anyone thought she would, so it's no joke that they run things. I am so glad to hear that they took good care of you.

I also second Rachel in that we do need a better system of letting the group know when one of us isn't well! I just assumed you were busy, since you had mentioned work was picking up.

SO glad you are ok, and don't scare us like that again! Please please let us know if we can do anything. You have a whole family of writers who should have done better to be aware of this and I know I for one want to make up for missing it.

Love you, man. Take care, get better, and hopefully we'll see you soon.