Let’s recap, shall we?
On Tuesday, May 10th, I was coming down the stairs of the house I share with BC and tripped on the bottom two, falling and injuring my ankle. Thinking it was sprained, I walked on it for a week only to discover the following Monday it was actually broken. (As we will soon discover, this is indicative of my apparent high tolerance for pain).
I was in a non-weight bearing cast for six weeks then on June 24th was put in a walking cast. I wore that for two weeks then on July 12th got a walking boot. I’ve been doing really well in that and wore it to Indianapolis a couple weekends ago for FitBloggin. I went via car, driving about 5 hours on Thursday and coming home on Saturday.
Last Tuesday, July 26th, I had a follow-up with the bone doc. I apparently have the slowest healing bone ever and he wants me to keep the boot for another two weeks then switch to the air cast on August 10th.
And that was great and grand and all was well and good.
And then it was Wednesday, July 27th.
The day started out normal enough. Went to work, did the work thing, then that evening went to an event at the Music Box Supper Club. Around 7:30 I got up to go to the bathroom and had what felt like a cramp in my abdomen. But I didn’t think much of it and stayed for the show, leaving around 9:30 pm.
Walking to my car I remarked to my friend Erin that it felt like I had pulled a muscle or something. My leg was also feeling very tired but I just figured maybe I had overworked it that day. Got home and was, admittedly, quite cranky, telling BC I was going upstairs and taking a shower and going to bed.
Once in the bathroom I removed the boot and noticed my left leg was dramatically swollen and discolored. But it didn’t really hurt, was more just uncomfortable. I had a bad feeling about this but I was so tired and so cranky and really hoped I was wrong, so I thought maybe I just need to elevate it overnight and the swelling will go down and it will be fine.
So that’s what I did. Not only that, I got up for work on Thursday, got dressed, and actually went to work, swollen discolored leg and all. In my defense, my team was supposed to have a fun activity that day and go to High Tea at Cleveland’s Ritz Carlton and I did not want to miss that. But I didn’t have much of an appetite so after getting ready, I skipped breakfast (this is important!) and just got to work a bit early, around 8 am.
I work in a fairly large building and just walking through it to my desk I knew this was not good. Still didn’t hurt, but leg was uncomfortable and stiff and it was hard to walk. I got to my desk and kept inching the hemline of my dress up to compare the swollen left leg with the regular right and it was really noticeable. So as soon as my manager got in at 8:30 I went into her office and explained I needed to leave. Then I lifted the hem of my skirt a little to show her my leg.
This was pretty much her reaction:
I live on the west side but work on the east side. My suspicions now confirmed, I decided I didn’t want to waste time driving all the way back to the west and instead went to an Urgent Care just a couple of miles from work. From there, he sent me to nearby Marymount Hospital which is part of the Cleveland Clinic.
Upon arriving I went to radiology and my leg was given an ultrasound where they confirmed a very extensive blood clot. (I knew things were bad when the tech/student was like “Imma need to go get my manager for help with this.”)
They immediately sent me through to the emergency department where I got admitted and hooked up to an IV of blood thinners. I also got a CT scan, which is like having this weird mechanical doughnut go all around you. The tech warned me that the dye she injected would a) give me a metallic taste in my mouth and b) make it feel like I had to pee and c) make my whole body warm. The metallic taste kicked in at the same time I had to hold my breath for about 20 seconds so that’s fun.
Thankfully, the CT scan came back clear: the clot had not traveled up to my lungs. That was pretty much the last good news I had for awhile.
So at this point I should probably explain the leg to you. I don’t have any pictures because the night of it freaked me the fuck out and I couldn’t deal with it, but now I kind of regret it.
You know in horror movies when you see zombie limbs and they are all purple and blue from lack of circulation? Yeahhhhhhh. It pretty much looked like that. Now that I think about it, I kind of looked like Voldemort.
SLYTHERIN FOR LIFE, YO.
And it was my literally the entire fucking leg. My deep vein thrombosis ran from the groin (well that explains that weird feeling the night before!) down to my knee. They found a little circulation in my foot, but that’s about it. The whole leg was discolored, stiff, swollen and, according to the doctors who felt it, ice cold.
Right, so, how does sort of thing happen? In this case, the doctor’s think it was a combination of things. First, and most obvious, my fracture. Plus the whole immobilization due to the cast / boot. Plus being on birth control (it’s a known risk factor, though I’ve been on The Pill for about a decade with zero problems but no more). But with the timing, it’s probably my most recent road trip to Indianapolis that was the real catalyst.
FUCKING FITBLOGGIN, MAN. THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING.
So by now it’s like 3 pm and I still haven’t eaten and my mom and BC have both come to the ER. My dad is in Nevada on a business trip but I’m texting with him and my sister, keeping them both updated.
Originally the plan was to keep me on blood thinners and wait and see but the vascular surgeon decided to take a more aggressive route and take me in for a minimally invasive surgery that basically involved going behind my knee and putting in a small catheter that would distribute blood thinner medicine directly to the clot.
To recap: my Thursday morning started with me excited to have High Fucking Tea at the Ritz Carlton and now I’m getting put under general anesthesia so I can have surgery on my dead zombie leg.
What? Me? Scared? Not at all. Nope, I wasn’t the 34 year old fully independent woman who asked her boyfriend to bring her childhood stuffed Snoopy to the hospital. Nope, not me.
I go into surgery around 6 pm and I was in for, I think, about two hours. Because of the anesthesia I have zero memory of what happened. One of the doctors gave me something to “take the edge off” and I was super loopy as they took me into surgery (all I’ll say is I had a very similar experience last summer when FitBloggin was in Denver). I remember having the mask put over my mouth, taking a few deep breaths, and the next thing I’m getting woken up which is VERY disorienting lemme tell you. BC was there and stayed for a little bit with me in ICU but I was so tired I eventually fell asleep.
Friday morning, I’m taken back into surgery so they can take a look at the work from the night before. As I’m being wheeled down, the anesthesiologist and nurses were asking how I knew it was a clot and I explained the whole zombie colored leg and how I went to work and, I swear to goddess you guys. The look on their faces when I explained I had this whole leg situation and still went to work.
“Didn’t it hurt?”
“Nah, it was mostly just uncomfortable.”
Again, you guys. THE LOOKS ON THEIR FACES. Even after surgery when the ICU nurses kept asking if I had any pain, I said no 90% of the time. The other times it was for some tenderness at the procedural site behind my knee and a fucking headache. That’s it.
See: high tolerance for pain.
Friday, I was put under that whole Twilight thing instead of full anesthesia and they checked. Half the clot was gone so I was sent back up to ICU and ate for the first time since Wednesday night. Oh yeah, I went about 40 hours without food. Fun times, yo.
Saturday rolled around and they took me back to check again. This time, the majority of the clot was gone and they were able to suck out some of the remaining bit and left the blood thinners to take care of the rest.
After that, it just became a waiting game. Well, a waiting game combined with a ridiculous amount of blood work. I was getting poked and prodded on a very specific schedule, which meant being woken up at 3 am sometimes.
On Sunday afternoon I was moved out of ICU and into a regular room and just kept on waiting, although the blood work became less frequent and I was no longer hooked up to quite so many machines although I still was attached to an IV (which made getting up and using the restroom quite a production).
By Monday I had hit my limit and when the surgical resident, Dr. Nicole, came to check on me I basically cried and begged to be allowed to go home.
I’m still in the “bridge” phase where they are transitioning me from the IV to the oral medication but there is an option that includes self-injecting at home although that needed to be discussed with the surgical doctor who performed the operation and insurance doesn’t always cover it. But, thankfully, Dr. Stanley approved me and so did my insurance so after another day of monitoring labs and being taught how to do the self-injection I was finally discharged on Tuesday afternoon around 3:00 pm.
Of course, this is the first page in a whole new chapter because I have to be on blood thinners for the next six months (at least). Today is all about doctor’s appointments and figuring out when I can return to work (ohmygod I was so freaking bored in the hospital I can’t even tell you) and just get back to daily life. Or, well, a new version of daily life. Because of the blood thinners I have to be careful with cuts and bleeding and bruising and, on top of that, I’m still dealing with this fractured ankle.
Just gotta keep on keepin’ on.
Love from the ashes,