I recently spent some time in the hospital, immobilized and hooked up to tubes. I’m told I was in considerable danger for my life. It had been two months of struggle trying to find out what has caused my coughing. I thought my story might interest some of you.
Excerpts From My Daily Journals
2015-12-07 [After a Month of Suffering]
Two weeks ago I finished my first course of antibiotics backed by course of steroids to help my lungs heal. My health suffered yesterday. I thought I was getting slowly better, but early morning coughing turned to puking and all day I was peckish. Today I’m committed to showing up at a work meeting or I’d have stayed home. Fortunately, I’m not doing too bad this morning.
Craptastic! A word that perfectly describes how I’m feeling today. I made my work meeting yesterday and bullied my way into my doctor’s agenda after. He put me on another course of antibiotics. It’s a 10 day package, but he said if I don’t improve noticeably by Wednesday-Thursday, I should make another appointment.
I’m hoping it’s not wishful thinking, but I *THINK* the latest course of antibiotics is working. I made it through the night without a cough attack to wake me.
My health has not improved. In spite of being halfway through my second course of antibiotics I’m still having violent cough attacks, so it’s back to see the doc again today at 1:30.
I made another visit to the doctor yesterday. He instructed me on my last visit, that if I wasn’t noticeably better by Wednesday-Thursday, I should make an appointment for a followup exam. My cough has not abated. At times it is rather severe. Most times it is merely ‘nagging’. I’ve been tricked into believing I was getting better, only to be assaulted with a bout of harsh coughing that gets me out of bed to puke. I’ve taken my 5th of 10 doses of my most recent antibiotics, but the expectation has been that I should be better off than I am now. The doctor drew blood yesterday and ordered two tests that will be done later. One test, called Spirometry, is on for next Wednesday. The other is an X-Ray (CT Scan) that hasn’t been scheduled yet. It must be a higher resolution than what the clinic can do, as it will be done at Pomerado Hospital.
Health continues to trouble me. My symptoms seem to have abated just a bit, but with the meds I’ve taken, they should be about GONE.
I finished my last (of 10) antibiotic this morning, but I’m still suffering from harsh coughing attacks. I have a breathing test scheduled at the doctor’s at 10am today.
Yesterday I started in on revising my Living Trust documents. I’ve finished with the Health directive documents and started out with the more complex “Living Trust” document. The “Health Directive” documents are important in the event I become incapable of instructing doctors the limits of extreme measures I want. This is important to relieve the responsibility from my designated agents. It might be very traumatic for someone to make such decisions (e.g. terminate life support) on my behalf. The Health Directive states what MY decisions are, and all that should be required of my agents is to enforce MY wishes.
Eleven years ago in 2005 I established my first Living Trust prior to my Alaska trip. Since then some of the people in my life has changed. I want to correct this issue and add more details about how I want the property to be distributed after I’m gone.
This morning I got the CT Scan scan done. I was given an iodine IV and placed on a bed that positioned me inside a big donut. It didn’t take long, and I was told the results might be known by the end of the day. However, when the X-Rays were first seen by the Hospital doctor, it was dramatic enough to contact my doctor immediately. Less than an hour after the test, my doctor called and urged me to go directly to the emergency room and check in for a few days (at least). He said I had multiple blood clots in both lungs. There was sufficient concern that if it were to go wrong, it could threaten my life.
I finished preparing my new trust documents, but nothing is signed.
What a drama these past three days have been! At noon Thursday I checked into the Emergency Room. I spent about an hour seated in the waiting room before I was seen to the first time. That was mostly a quick interview by the nurse and I was cast back out to the waiting room. I complained that the seating was hard on my back. It was only a short while later that they called me back and put me in an ER bed where they started me on an IV of Heparin. Because there were no available rooms I ended up staying there for 8 hours when they shifted into a proper room. While I was on the IV, all I wanted to do was sleep. In fact they didn’t want me to be active in case one or more of the blood clots broke loose and found their way to my heart, causing a heart attack. At intervals of a few hours, I would get woken up to have my vital signs taken (temperature and blood pressure), and I’d get poked with needles to have blood drawn. Just before noon today (hour #48 here at the hospital) they stopped the IV and allowed me to get out of bed. I gathered that the results of the blood tests had shown sufficient improvements. My energy level spiked upward I felt better. It looks as though I’m in for a day or so of twice-a-day injections then 6-12 months of pills.
The working theory how I got into this mess is a small clot in my leg formed either after an injury that I forgot about, or more likely during the two long drives I recently took caused a stagnation (for lack of a better term) in blood flow and allowed the clot to form. Apparently the clot in my leg cast off some smaller clots that got caught in my lungs, which led to the coughing attacks that got misdiagnosed as bronchitis.
There seems to be much agreement that my symptoms manifested atypically. It took ultrasound equipment to find the clot in my left leg. There was no bruising or noticeable swelling to speak of. I had no pain nor indications to announce its existence. I cannot hold the doctor responsible for my condition, nor can fault him for time lost in the diagnosis and false treatments. The three doctors involved with my hospital recovery all were amazed that given my symptoms, the blood clots in my lungs were found in time. Forty-nine out of fifty cases with symptoms like mine would only get diagnosed post mortem.
As I write this accounting of my health crisis, I am optimistic that I’m on the road to recovery. I’m resolved to stay the course of blood thinning pills for six months and intersperse short walks every few hours while on my drives to chase birds. My endurance isn’t what it needs to be yet, but I’m sure that will improve.