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Month: February 2014

ten on tuesday: a case of the “i feels” (#projectfemur)

Per Carole’s typical prompt, here’s a Ten on Tuesday. The topic: ten statements or sentiments that start with “I feel…”

  1. I feel a lot better than I did last week (thank you, doctors, for clearing my pulmonary embolisms).
  2. I feel better now that I’m cooking again.
  3. I feel like my GI tract still isn’t completely over the post-hospital antibiotics (what, TMI?).
  4. I feel like there’s another big breakthrough about to come about in my #projectfemur recovery.
  5. I feel a bit stir-crazy because of that previous statement.
  6. I feel like I may finally upgrade my high-speed Internet connection to The Burrow.
  7. I feel like that also may be accompanied by a computer upgrade (my newest non-iPhone computer is at least 6 years old).
  8. I feel better now that my lower right leg isn’t swollen like a sausage.
  9. I feel like my orthopedist may finally allow me to bear weight on my right leg (crossing fingers).
  10. I feel like shaking things up a bit.

So… there ‘ya go! Got any “I feels?” Leave ’em in the comments.

#projectfemur update:

Really, things have gone well since the bilateral pulmonary embolism incident. I’m down to just the anti-coagulant and an occasional over-the-counter pain killer (usually when the weather is in flux – my right leg is my new weathervane). My in-home physical therapy is going well, and I’m out-and-about in the neighborhood when the sidewalk conditions permit.

(That said: this is probably the first winter where I’m wishing for “aesthetic snow” only, where the sidewalks remain clear and dry. Mark this occasion, as I’m usually an unabashed snow lover.)

home again (#projectfemur)

I returned home from GW Hospital on Saturday afternoon. It’s great to be home.

I’m a little weaker than I was going in, as my lungs took a beating from the embolisms. Yawns and sneezes are still works-in-progress: they are not as full-bodied as they should be. I’m on an anti-coagulant (Xarelto) and two powerful antibiotics (thankfully, not for too long, as they are beating up my GI tract, killing both the beneficial flora as well as the nasty stuff).

My PT is a little behind schedule now, which is to be expected – plenty of time to make up for the lost days. My right foot and ankle are still prone to swelling, though that’s improving little-by-little every day (I think some T.E.D. Hose are in order to try and keep the swelling at bay). The flexibility in my right leg is improving as the swelling subsides.

So all-in-all, I’m getting better. 🙂

a speed bump (#projectfemur)

I was released from National Rehabilitation Hospital on Tuesday, Feb 4. All good.

Then early Tuesday morning, I had a bilateral pulmonary embolism. What I initially thought was muscle cramping rapidly developed into crushing pain on my right side and the inability to take a deep breath. By 4:30am, I could barely breathe.

sprite rushed me to the GW Hospital ER, where my guess at diagnosis was confirmed, and I was admitted. I ended up being in the ER for 14.5 hours (no beds), had a litany of tests (CT scan, X-ray, ultrasounds of legs, lungs and heart), was put on big doses of Lovenox (a blood anti-coagulant), and tried to keep the pain in check (morphine was gooood). My pulmonologist told me I had PEs in both lungs, and that I was lucky I caught ’em when I did.

I eventually got a room, and after eating my dinner (a sandwich provided by my friend, Greg), the pain presented with a bang on my left side. I couldn’t breathe, and I was in extreme pain, even with oxycodone in my system.

Overnight, I was put on Dilaudid (worked great) and later Tramadol (useless), and I got some sleep (sitting up – reclining hurts). Today, my pulmonologist has me on a PCA Dilaudid drip (i.e. the “happy button,” where I have some control over the dosing), as well as antibiotics as I seem to be battling pneumonia. It was a better day.

And today, I’ve made the transition from the IV Dilaudid to a Dilaudid pill – all good. I also got to take a sponge bath – ahhhh….

I’ll be here for a few more days. Once out, I’ll be on an oral anti-coagulant for a while.

Lessons learned:

1. My apartment is bad for ambulation, which likely caused the PE (not enough walking/standing activity). Once I get home, I’ll need to stand and boogie a lot, and get outside when I can. The recent snow in DC doesn’t help, but it’ll get warm soon enough..

2. My physical therapy has given me great strength in my legs, arms, and core (about 3 weeks ahead of an average person with the same injury, per my PT evaluation here at GW).

3. My endurance and overall conditioning likely saved my life. Even with the PE, I still had a pulse-ox of 96, normal blood pressure, and full heart function. Even when I had my issues late last night, I only dropped to 93 (still within the “normal” range).

So that’s where I am. NRH got me working on strength and crutching skills, and I did really well. My hemoglobin levels are good again. But the mistake was my not being active enough at home: the PT alone didn’t cut it.

So… there ‘ya go! Just a speed bump – albeit one that could’ve been lethal. I’m glad I knew of the risk and was familiar with the symptoms.

ten on tuesday: i am… (#projectfemur)

Per Carole’s prompt this week, I figured her topic fit in well with an update on my injury recovery. So…

I am…

  1. …able to function well with crutches.
  2. …happy that my hematocrit is essentially back to normal.
  3. …almost ready to transition back to OTC pain medication.
  4. …still smiling every single morning.
  5. …still seeing this as an adventure – a positive, fun adventure!
  6. …appreciative of all the doctors, nurses, techs, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, custodians, and fellow travelers on this rehab journey.
  7. …glad that my right leg is getting more flexible and mobile each day (and without my being able to bear my body weight on it).
  8. …pleased beyond words at the support I’ve received from family and friends – y’all are awesome!
  9. …grateful to National Rehabilitation hospital for getting me from weak and anemic to strong and (mostly) independent over an 18 day span.
  10. …happy to be home.

So there… I am!

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