[personal profile] an_sceal
Hi! I'm not in Iceland.

That's because on Thursday, as a final worrywart measure because of the shortness of breath, I listened to my primary care physician and went to a pulmonologist. I thought they'd maybe give me a steroid inhaler for my asthma again, and I'd head off to tromp across glaciers.

Instead, we did a lung capacity test- spirography? something like that-, then an exam and a nebulizer treatment, then another capacity test. No change in capacity, which meant it wasn't asthma. So I had a chest x-ray, and was relieved to learn that I don't have the consumption. Yay.

The doctor came back in, and told me that if it were earlier in the day, he'd send me to a private lab, but because it was so late, he wanted me to go across the street to the ER and have a CT scan to rule out a pulmonary embolism. I was grumpy about it, but I figured better safe than sorry, since I was getting on a plane, so I went. Five hours later, after a CT scan and the start of a heparin drip, I was admitted to the hospital.

The ER doc told me I had a clot in the lower lobe of my left lung. The next morning, the pulmonary specialist (from the same group I'd seen the day before, in fact), came in and gave me the real story- I have multiple pulmonary embolisms in both lungs. He knew I was supposed to get on a plane to Iceland on Sunday. I've never had a doctor look at me and tell me I would have died of something before. I'm still not really sure I can process it. It was one of the scariest moments of my entire life. Not the sickness, but the knowledge that if I hadn't listened to my own body, if I'd written off the shortness of breath as nothing to worry about, the pain in my chest and shoulder as nothing but a fibromyalgia flare, if I'd put off the specialist until I got back, or not gone to the ER... I've never had a hard and fast "I would be dead" moment before, and it still scares the everloving fuck out of me.

The likely culprit in all of this was the Nuvaring I've been using as hormonal regulation for my PCOS and PMDD. I started on it in May, and since then my blood pressure (normally low-normal) has been rising bit by bit, which can be a side-effect. Given that there's no history of blood clots on either side of my family for at least two generations, and I've never had any problems before, it seems the likeliest suspect. And the ER doc, when I was admitted, said I was the third patient she'd seen this month with PE's while using the Nuvaring.

I spent two night in the hospital, and came home yesterday afternoon. If Michelle hadn't been there to keep me sane, I don't know if I would have made it out without going nuts. All my friends dropped me emails or comments on facebook and twitter, texted and called, and I can't thank everyone enough for thinking of me. I'm still scared. I'm not going to Iceland, and may not be going to Columbus in a couple weeks. I have six months of blood thinners to look forward to, and another week of self-injections, blood tests every other day, and wrangling anxiety and a new medical condition around our close friend Sandy, who looks to screw with the DC area pretty good. But I'm alive. And I'm terrible, terribly aware right now that if even one thing about all of this had been different, that might not be the case.
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December 2015


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