Saturday, December 14, 2013

From the Glad To Be Alive Department: End of the Year

Take that, Death. Next time you come for
me you better bring a lot more than massive
bilateral pulmonary embolism.
For those just joining us:  Back in August I was very close to checking out. Read the details here, and updates since I came home here, here and here. All caught up?

So last week I went in for an echocardiogram. It was a much different experience than when I was in the Emergency Room. The tech talked me through everything she was looking at. Watching the valves open and close was pretty cool.

Ten days later I met with the pulmonologist who took such good care of me. She told me right off the bat that my echo looked 'pretty darn normal'. She drew me a picture of what went on in my lungs when we met back in the ER, and - well, let's just say she didn't pul any punches. It was bad. The super clot buster stuff she gave me, the stuff they give stroke patients, was the best thing she could have given me. AND I'm the only patient she's ever prescribed it for. 

At the end of the appointment, she said I was doing so well (I've lost the five pounds a month, my blood pressure is great) that I don't need to see her any more. I'm okay with that. She's great, this doctor, and she explained everything to me so that I understood. From the start my whole case was a challenge and she made great decisions. If you need a pulmonologist, let me know. I can recommend a great one.

I'm still on the blood thinners, though. I go back for another round of testing in March at the behest of a hematologist who is every bit as good as the lady doctor I don't have to see any more. The blood doc is also youngish and has the same bedside manner as she does. He explained his testing of my blood in detail, not the boring stuff, but what he was looking for and why. Which means he's able to tell me that the reason the blood clots developed because of ulcerative colitis, a condition I had ignored for nearly two years.

All this happened because I was scared of a little colonoscopy and backed out of an appointment back then. Lesson learned, I guess. 

Don't follow my example. If you think something's wrong with you, get checked out. Don't wait. It may be expensive up front, but trust me that if you wait too long, it'll be waaaay more expensive. 

I will be on the blood thinners for the next nine months, at least. I'll have to be careful and continue eating sensibly and losing the weight. The downside is that just as I've developed a routine it's damn cold outside and walking is the best thing I can do for my knees and my weight. Still, I won't give up. I won't let down the people who kept me from dying. I won't leave my wife like that. 

This, then, is an ending of sorts. The blood clots are gone and I feel great. My biggest risk now is simply a recurrence of blood clots. There's nothing else I need to worry about. Except the colitis. But that's being managed. I've been told that sometimes parts of the body just quit for no reason. Like your warranty's run out or something. 

Finally, as this post is getting long and rambly, I must thank everyone who's sent positive thoughts or reached out in any way over the last three months. Your care and concern is meaningful. I have so many friends I almost can't believe it. I love you all. And my family, jeez, where would I be without them? There are too many thank-yous to list here. I've been working on those.

All right. that's it. This chapter is going to be closed. The next one is about getting better and staying on mission to lose the weight and avoid the recurrence of The Incident. I'll update you sometime in the spring on how that's going. In the meantime I'm staying focused on writing. I've got stuff to get down and turn in and see where it goes. 

Thanks for reading. 


Melanie Sherman said...

Wow Jason, that is some pretty scary stuff. You are a lucky man, and you've frightened the beejeebers out of me. I guess I better make the appointments I've been putting off.

Glad your better, glad you have a smart and caring wife who dragged you to the hospital, and glad you wrote about it.


Jason Arnett said...

The only upside to when I went to the hospital, Melanie, was that I was too - I said stupid but really it was just uninformed - to know that I should have been scared. If I'd suspected just how serious my condition was that day it would have been much worse. So please, yes, go make those appointments and talk honestly with your doctors. Then do what has to be done.

Let me know how it goes. I wish you all the best. And stay positive that you can do the things that need doing in order to be healthy and live well. If I can do it, anyone can. It's a matter of will.