Gnarly Old Guy Body Wrapper

Surviving an Acute Pulmonary Embolism

– Continued –

I’m lying in an emergency room bed waiting to be “officially” admitted to the hospital. It’s 3:30 am, we’ve been at the hospital about 4 hours now. They’ve started me on blood thinner through an IV drip. Surprisingly there’s not much activity in the ER this morning, except for the crazy guy two beds away from me.

Gina is convinced that she draws the crazy. There was the guy in San Diego that followed us from the train depot up Broadway until I stared him down. There were numerous episodes in Old Town Pasadena and even when we visited San Francisco. She uses this particular occasion as verification, he’s crazy, and he’s close. Never mind he was there before us, she’s convinced. He’s loud, he’s walking around, even though the nurses tell him not to, he has to go to the bathroom, and he just won’t quiet down. Now he’s singing! Every time he walks past the bed I’m in he stops and stares at us. I keep falling in and out of sleep.

4 am. Code Blue on the second floor. The ER nurse comes over and tells me that’s the floor I’m going to, but they can’t move me during a code blue. Oh, a bed is coming available? I’m still a little looped from the earlier hydrocodone, but it’s starting to wear off, and that clown with the knife is back. I’m also on oxygen, and it hurts to take deep breaths, so my breathing stays shallow to avoid the pain. Gina tells me later that when I fall completely asleep, I can still snore as loudly as ever though.
Next thing I know the nurse is there, putting up the side rails and he starts pushing me out of the ER to my room. It’s 5 am. We got to the floor and rolled into a single room; luck is with me. Rolled into position and everything locked in place my floor nurse introduces herself and the student working with her this morning. She explains a few things; for instance, I might not have this room for long. She asks if I’m in pain and to which I reply, “Yes.”

She asks, “How bad on a scale of 1 – 10?”

“8’ is my reply.

She asks if I want another Hydrocodone or perhaps Morphine instead. Morphine, ugh. I hate the stuff, the feeling it gives as it’s pushed in and the instant stupid feeling that comes over me, no thanks. The Hydrocodone just makes me not care about the pain and lets me sleep; I’ll take that thanks. She brings me the meds and now it’s just Gina and me sitting in a hospital room. We chat for a little while, she’s dragging and needs to get home and get some rest. It’s a work day for her, and she’s been up all night with the broken Gnarly Old Guy. She tells me she’ll be back a little after lunch to see how I’m doing. She leaves me with my cell and asks if there’s anything else I want. I ask her to bring my iPad back, and she’s off.

The next few hours become a mind-numbing repetition of events. Hospital food, sleep, room cleaning, vitals, meds, sleep, hospital food, sleep, room cleaning, vitals, meds. At some point, the Doctor visits to tell me again that I have a blood clot in my lung and there are going to be a few more tests. But first I need to be on blood thinning meds I’m off the IV meds by now, and he asks what my insurance will cover? Like I have that stored someplace convenient in my weary brain. I tell him I’m not sure, so he’s off to investigate. He never returns that day; I know shocking right? The nurse is there in about 10 minutes with my first dose of Warfarin and a shot of Heparin that goes right under the skin in my stomach area. We’re having fun now. Gina returns shortly after lunch and brings me some thick socks for my freezing feet, my iPad and a large cup of Starbucks coffee. The hospital coffee is the worst sort of dark water with no flavor.

Later that afternoon another Doctor, a Hematologist, comes by and we talk briefly about what happened and how it may have happened and what he wants to do. He’s going to run every test known to the human race for cancer, just to rule that out completely. Later that evening they take the blood from me, I wonder how much is left after they fill a basket with vials of my blood.

GnarlyOldGuy Blood vials
No, you still have plenty left. The slight dizzy feeling will pass.

The next 18 hours are pretty much the same routine of events as before, food, vitals, meds, sleep and room cleaning. I get to watch a couple of movies, they have some decent entertainment, and I get in some reading on my iPad. Gina and Ariana visit early in the evening, and we get to share in the day’s events for Ariana.

By the next morning, I’m over this and want to escape. I’m finally released later that afternoon, and I’m home. Weary, sore and glad to be out of the hospital. Instead of taking it easy for a couple of days I try to get back into some routine and regret it by the second day. One of the results of the blood clot was a partially collapsed right lung. I’m not on oxygen, so I get winded easily, the pain is back with a vengeance, and I am falling down tired. Gina tells me to stay in bed for the next three days and keep myself medicated for the pain. I do it, and it puts me on the right road to recovery.

It’s been a little over two weeks now since discharge and every day is better than the last. I’m pretty sure the sedate lifestyle I was living was a major contributor to this happening. I’m standing and walking more than before, we are going to yoga again to loosen things up, and I’ll be starting an exercise routine to trim down and keep this from happening again. I’m clear on all of the cancer screenings; this is a great relief for both Gina and me. This event has given me pause; I need to change things up to keep me active and engaged. Part of that self-imposed therapy is this blog.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep an eye out for more, next post on Saturday.


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