Friday, December 7, 2012

Answering Some Questions About Blood Clot

I didn't really feel up to writing a Fun Facts Friday post. Right now I'm not feeling too "fun." I have had so many of you email me asking more about what's going on, what a blood clot means, and how I'm being treated.

So, I thought I'd answer a few questions, maybe share some of my feelings about this as well.

How Did it Happen?
Last Friday I had gone for a run, come back and stretched like normal. I stood up to roll up my yoga mat and felt a strange, almost pinch near my clavicle. I pushed around trying to pinpoint the cause of the pain, but never could find "the spot."

Saturday I kept feeling strange pain but didn't really think much of it. Sunday morning, however, I woke up with a swelling right at my clavicle. It hurt like crazy and just continued to get worse throughout the day.

The whole area near my clavicle was swollen, red, hot. There is a lymph node right in that area called the supraclavicular lymph node. Since I had been suffering from allergies, I thought perhaps it was that lymph node even though that's not a lymph node that would normally swell or become infected due to sinuses.

It was definitely worse on Monday, so I called and got in to see a doctor, a new one thankfully. He too thought it was the supraclavicular lymph node. Infections are hot, red, swollen. So it made sense, sort of. My sinus problems weren't caused by an infection thankfully, just allergies. He was going to give me a steroid shot that would have cleared that all up, but the lymph node situation was far worse so he wanted to treat aggressively.

Tuesday it was worse, so I went back. He gave me another very painful antibiotic shot. He told me to come back Wednesday then again Thursday. Honestly, I skipped Wednesday's appointment because I couldn't stand another shot. Thursday, however, it was not any better, so I readily went in.

My appointment was 8:15. I thought I'd be at work by 9:30 at the latest, where I'd eat breakfast. After checking it, he sent me directly to the hospital to have an ultrasound. He suggested it could be a blood clot. So off I went, tummy starting to grumble of course. After about 2 hours spent at the hospital, it was indeed confirmed - blood clot in the left jugular.

As for how or why I got it, not sure. Right now they just want to treat it then worry about everything else later. 

Treatment
I was told the doctor wanted to treat me as outpatient and to head back to his office. The guys who did the ultrasound said, "You're really lucky." Meaning I was lucky I wasn't being admitted right then.

The reason I wasn't admitted is because my doctor wanted me to try a new therapy to dissolve the clot. Normally, patients are admitted to the hospital for a lengthy stay so the administering of medication (essential rat poison) can be very closely watch. That's followed by at-home injections.

This new therapy is using a medication called Xarelto. It's an anticoagulant typically used to prevent new clots. Luckily there are very minimal side effects. The biggest side effects are dizziness and bleeding.

How Do I Feel?
Honestly, not as crappy as you'd think. I am fatigued. I've been sleeping 10-11 hours easily. I've been a little short of breath as well. But other than that, I don't feel terrible. That kind of makes it worse, because I'm already antsy to move.

What Can I Do?
I've been told absolutely no exercise, no walking, nada, zero, zip, zilch. Sit. Sit. Sit. For someone who works out 6 days a week, runs 30-35 miles a week, lifts, does kickboxing, etc., this is like being in prison.

Dangers
The dangers of this are of course quite serious. It's not uncommon. My doctor tried to allay my fears saying that he does see clots weekly. However, the problem is really about making sure that it doesn't get dislodged and move. Hence no moving.

If it did get dislodged it could go to my lung or, worse, my heart. So yes, this is pretty serious. But, I've already had people say they've had clots or know someone and they've made it through without any problems. In fact, my doctor's nurse had one in her lung. She told me this trying to reassure me. And it was reassuring. But it's still scary.

So...
That's really it. I've got a clot. I'm not supposed to do much of anything. And I've cried a lot (which is not good for allergy ridden sinuses).

I am really trying to stay positive. It's not easy, but I'm trying. I appreciate the well-wishes, emails, direct messages, etc. They really mean so much. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.