Saturday, 17 March 2012

Part 2b: My trip to the High Dependency Unit - Deep Vein Thrombosis Scare

Another Rough Night

Once again I had a very rough night with nurses waking me up every 2-4 hours to either do my ops or to take blood which was terrible as my veins would collapse after each session so I was rapidly running out. By this stage I'm ridiculously tired and very irritable mainly from sleep deprivation made worse by the M.E.

Meeting the Doctors

Morning comes and after the breakfast and drugs round I get a team of doctors round my bed and they introduce themselves as the vascular surgeons, hematology and rheumatology - clearly word has got out that I've got something interesting to investigate. They explained that I'll need to go through a further series of blood tests (ha, good luck with those), scans and physical examinations to try and find out what was wrong. Here was the worst news though, I had to be bed bound and to have my leg elevated in a special contraption for 23 hours a day (1 hour for washing and toilet breaks) - great so not only do I have to stay in bed but I have to be uncomfortable too! They also explain that I would be on a series of drugs to prevent infection, thin my blood and to also keep my bowels regular as I wouldn't be moving (apparently they slow down a lot when you're bed bound).

Some Time Later and I'm Moved to the HDU

A couple of days have gone by and I'm still not getting any better, if anything my breathing has got worse. My vascular surgeon comes round and says that he's not happy with my blood, it's not thinning enough and that's putting pressure on my heart (my blood pressure and heart rate have been stupidly high) so I've got to have another cannula put in so I can have iv (intravenous) heparin to get it under control. He thinks the clot is breaking off and traveling into my lungs so I need to have a procedure done to put a filter in to stop the moving clots once my blood levels are under control with the heparin. But the scariest thing to come was that I was immediately moved to the Medical High Dependency Unit, I clearly didn't realize how poorly I was for them to be that concerned about me.

Completely Bed Bound

By now this was all starting to go over my head, however, the worst was yet to come in my opinion. As silly as it sounds I had a panic attack and completely broke down when I told that I could no longer have bathroom visits and that I had to have a catheter inserted so I could remain completely immobile.

After I had calmed down I was completely against having a catheter, I just couldn't stand the thought of having it done. However, the lovely nurse looking after me explained that it was literally a case of have the catheter or risk losing the leg, or worse, dying. After it was put like that I agreed to have it done, and boy was I right about not wanting it. I was told it would be a 'little' uncomfortable like I had scratched myself but boy were they wrong, it was just how I expected a tube being put up your urethra would feel: it hurt a lot. Even after it was done I ended up taping the tube to my leg simply because gravity was too much - if you've ever had a catheter you'll know what I mean.

More Tests

About 24 hours later once I had stabilized a bit more on the heparin I needed to go for a CT scan and a MRI. The CT wasn't so bad, they let me move across to the machine myself and even had foam shapes so that I could elevate my leg as well. The CT scanner is like a donut but you lie on a table that takes you in and out of the middle section. The strangest bit of the scan was having to drink the contrast fluid and when they put additional contrast in through the cannula; just something to remember if you have that done, when they put in through it WILL feel like you have wet yourself, but don't worry it's just the that nerves have been activated down there.

Feeling sorry for himself
The MRI on the other hand was one of the worst experiences I have ever had. I had to have a pat slide (wrapped in a sheet) onto the MRI slide (the bit in the middle that you lie on) which was really painful - think tubes, needles and squashing of blood clots - not to mention I had coils digging into my back. They then put me through into the tunnel and when my head came out the other side I was given some headphones so I could listen to the radio. I spent the next hour and a half sobbing in pain and there was nothing that anyone could do about it, my leg was straight (incredibly painful) and throbbing, my back was screaming at me, my catheter was being pulled somewhere and my cannula was trapped in the sheet and I couldn't move, needless to say I was feeling really, really sorry for myself (just like that puppy).

As soon as I was out of that machine I was given a wonderful dose of morphine which took most of the pain away and also sent me to sleep for the next two hours.

Results of the Scans

The vascular team came round the next morning with the results of the two scans and confirmed that I had a blood clot in each of my lungs and that the one in my leg ran from my tummy button to my ankle!

Things just got interesting for me and the doctors, we both wanted to know how a clot that big was not picked up before given all the test that I've had over the years and the last few months and how it formed in the first place. Those investigations will start once I've recovered a bit more and when they're able to take a base line of blood samples for comparison.

The next step was to place a filter in the vena cava (that's the big vein that runs straight down the middle from your neck and then splits in two for each leg) about half way down so that it would trap any clots that have broken off and my body would then dissolve them from that safe place.

More on my IVC filter in the next couple of days.

Part 2a
Part 1

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