Its been a day over a month since my last post and a month since my surgery. I’m going to get you caught up on all the festivities. This whole 3rd times a charm thing.. Well, it’s been strongly contested.
Flashback, my surgery was on Wednesday, February 20th, 2013. The surgery took longer than normal my previous surgeries lasted only an hour or two. This surgery had me going in at 11am and leaving at 930pm. The surgeon said that was normal with the amount of “problems” (ACL repair, medial meniscus repair, lateral meniscus repair) I had going on in my knee.
The pain this time around was AWFUL. The more surgeries you have on a particular area, the amount of surgery all add up to more pain, and then add in the quad graft and you’ve got the perfect pain storm apparently. The pain was AWFUL I can’t say that enough.
Okay, back to my story.. The surgery was on a Wednesday.. 3 days later on Sunday I noticed a pain in the lower part of my calf. The pain felt like I needed to stretch my calf so I didn’t think much of it so I just kept doing my physical therapy. On Monday morning I mentioned to my physical therapist that I was having the calf pain. I could tell she had some concern when I told her just by looking at his face. She went on the other side of the room for a minute and brought over another therapist. He was older and seemed as though he could possibly be her boss. He asked me about where the pain was, then turned to my therapist and said… “If it was he’d be jumping off the table in pain.” My therapist came back over and said it was pain due to my extension not being to zero degrees. I came home feeling a little better, but a few hours later when the pain resurfaced I started “googling” “pain in calf after knee surgery” and well self-diagnosing is never a good idea, but in this case.. It might have saved my life. The search results showed this:
Needless to say I was freaked out but I knew most Docs get real annoyed when you tell them you’ve WebMD’d yourself. I discussed it all with my wife who started doing some research of her own, and we determined it was best to call the doctor. My surgeon told me that it was probably nothing, but for piece of mind spend the $50 for my co-pay and head to the emergency room. My wife and I decided to take the trip to the ER for both of our pieces of mind after I told her this was my 3rd surgery and this pain didn’t feel right. When we arrived my wife dropped me off and went shopping (I don’t blame her, we both thought it would be nothing) The doctor in the ER payed me a visit introduced himself, and told me that the pain was just achilles pain from the surgery and I was too young for a blood clot. After about an hour of tests and waiting (more waiting than testing) the doctor came back in and stood in the doorway and his exact words “Well how about that?” I gave him a blank stare, and he waited a minute and said, “You have a blood clot.” I was worried at first but the doctor assured me that DVT’s are containable and controllable. They would need me to stay overnight for monitoring and put me on blood thinners ASAP. They gave me a shot in my belly, an IV, and a room.
The next morning my primary care doctor showed up and started discussing treatment options with my wife and I. He said I had two options the first being Ol’ Reliable Coumadin/Heparin and would require me to stay for 5 days in the hospital to get my blood right, not allow me to eat anything green, and weekly/possibly daily shots for blood work. When you take blood thinners they must monitor your INR (International Normalized Ratio). The second option was Pradaxa a pill that you can take daily that thins your blood, doesn’t require the hospital stay, doesn’t require the shots, and works the same. The catch? There is no antidote. You start bleeding? You could bleed out. The doctor downplayed the risk. My wife asked the doctor what the chance of the clot breaking away and going to my lung was and he replied: “Not likely.” The blood thinners will keep that from happening and with how small and deep it is in his calf it won’t happen. We chose Pardaxa (the wife wanted Coumadin) and went on our way home.
Wednesday and Thursday were normal days.. Friday morning I woke up excited because I was going to my first post op visit with my surgeon. First I had to attend my physical therapy session which was normal.. did my exercises without problem. We went to my doctors appointment and waited for awhile in the waiting room, and then were called back.. After meeting with my doctor and his physicians assistant they sent a lady in to teach me how to use my stimulation machine. While she was teaching me I became very anxious, irritated, and felt like I was going to throw up. I told the woman I needed to leave and she quickly finished. On my way out the doctor asked me if I was okay, and I told him just nauseous and that I didn’t eat anything probably over worked myself. My wife and I stopped to make my next appointment and I kept getting worse. I crutched my way to the elevator when my wife asked me if I was okay. I told her I felt like I was going to throw up, and I needed to sit down. Obviously, being at the end of a long hallway and a giant bandage and immobilizer brace that wasn’t going to be possible. Then I started to lose my breathe and nothing I could do to catch it. The rest of the story will be told by my wife. I proceeded to lose consciousness. My wife stated my eyes rolled into the back of my head, and all she could think about was if I hit my head while on this blood thinner I could bleed out. She grabbed my jacket with both hands and slowly guided me to the ground as best as she could. When I woke up my entire body was tingling and I still couldn’t breathe. My wife had ran down the hall back into the doctors office and I had a team of nurses and PA’s working to help me. The put me on oxygen and wheel chaired me to the emergency room. They ran a ton of tests and found out that the clot had done what I was told was near impossible. The clot had broken away and went straight to my lung. The reason I’m still alive? It stopped on the left side of my lung. They admitted me to the hospital for observation, switched me off the Pardaxa and put me on old reliable Coumadin.
According to the internet (Google) and my doctor 15% of people die from Pulmonary Embolisms. Most of them being elderly. Although, Its very rare someone my age and younger people get them so I doubt there are many statistics out there for this. The doctor assured me that I was going to be okay, but with everything going on and everything being so rare with a low risk chance of happening I was skeptical. Scared. Skeptical.
My next posts will tell the tale of adventures of an 8 day hospital stay… Stay tuned for Part II…