An October to Remember
This October will definitely be one to remember! It’s been a month full of emotions and pain. It is amazing how things can drastically change from one moment to the next. One thing is for sure, this was an October to remember!
The Good! September 25-October 2 – Mission Trip Guatemala
I had the privilege of going on a mission trip to Guatemala. This was my second trip to Guatemala and both trips were life changing. To read more about my trip, please visit my blog post entitled Mission Trip Guatemala Highlights.
The Bad! October 7 – Surgery day!
- Bright and early on October 7, I went in for outpatient surgery on my ankle. I had a condition called Haglund’s Deformity. Haglund’s Deformity is a bony enlargement on the back of the heel. The soft tissue near the Achilles’ tendon becomes irritated when the bony enlargement rubs against shoes. This often leads to painful bursitis, which is an inflammation of the bursa (a fluid-filled sac between the tendon and bone).
- I had been suffering from the pain of this condition since late April, so it was time to have surgery to remove the bone enlargement. The surgery itself seemed to be very successful. The doctor said everything went well and he didn’t need to move the Achilles’ tendon out of place, which was a possibility.
- The first couple of days were very painful and I wasn’t able to put any pressure on my foot. But within about 4 days, I was able to start walking some. Of course, I walked very stiffly and uncomfortably, but I was making progress. The recovery progress continued, but very slowly.
The Ugly! October 22-25
- The pain in my left leg (surgery leg) started to greatly increase. I also started developing swelling in the posterior of my calf. It was getting more painful and difficult to walk.
- I contacted the doctor both on Monday and Tuesday the 24th and 25th, but both times he said it was most likely experiencing a muscle spasm.
- October 26 (one day early of my post-op exam)
- I called the doctor because my leg was extremely swollen, hard, and tender. They said to come into the office to have it examined by the doctor. The doctor examined my leg and ankle but was fairly positive it was a muscle spasm. I challenged his thinking as I was concerned I was experiencing a blood clot. He decided to send me for an ultrasound on the leg.
- At the ultrasound, the tech determined I indeed had deep vein thrombosis with one very large clot and another smaller clot. So I was sent to the emergency room for further evaluation.
- I ended up spending 9 hours in the emergency room before being hospitalized with two blood clots in my leg and two in my lungs. I was stunned and couldn’t believe this was happening.
- I spent three nights in the hospital being pricked and prodded every 6 hours. My veins are difficult to find and IV’s are hard to place. I ended up having three IV’s placed but only the one in my hand worked correctly the entire stay. It was used for the Heparin (blood thinner) drip. With only one IV, my last three blood draws were done by needle, rather than through an IV.
October 29 – Home
- I was discharged from the hospital after lunch. I was switched from the Heparin drip to an oral medication called Xarelto. I will be on this medication for 3 months. The hospital doctor said it will take about 4 weeks for the large clot in my leg to break down and dissolve.
- I’m supposed to be starting some normal activities but right now I am very weak. Plus my ankle and leg are still swollen and sore.
- I have to be very cautious about injuries, especially head injuries. Blood thinners are meant to thin the blood and slow its ability to clot. The problem is it also means easier bruising, more bleeding with cuts, and possible internal bleeding with head injuries.
- Tomorrow (October 31) I see my primary care physician for follow-up and further information. I assume we will set up a treatment plan for the next few months. The hospital actually set up this appointment for me before I was discharged.
- We know our bodies better than anyone else! Always trust your instincts! If you believe something isn’t right, get a second opinion or ask for further testing.
- Just one more day without medication could have been tragic in my case! Blood clots that move to the lungs can be life-threatening. I’m so glad I took the initiative to get into the doctor early and question his judgment.
- Ask lots of questions of your doctor, especially if you are going through a procedure or surgery. For me, the doctor didn’t talk about the possibility of blood clots. My paperwork said to take one 81 mg aspirin a day, but in my case this wasn’t enough. I should have been up and moving more and doing leg and foot exercises.
- Blood clots can happen to anyone at any age! Take precautions – get up and move often, take a break from long driving trips every 60-90, stretch your legs and do frequent toe lifts when flying in an airplane, and above all else DO NOT SMOKE! Cigarettes greatly increase the chances of blood clots.