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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pulmonary Embolisms and Other Distractions

I'm too tired to elaborate greatly, but the essence of this tale is that The Artistic One was unusually tired for a few days and complaining of shoulder pain. He has chronic arthritis pain in his right shoulder so that wasn't so unusual. He didn't eat much at my birthday lunch on Thursday and fell asleep in the car on the way home. TAO was withdrawn and obviously uncomfortable that evening and I kept waking up that night as his breathing was shallow and fast, as he tossed and turned. Around 5 am he mentioned that it was his left shoulder that was causing him trouble, which has the potential to be a much bigger problem, so I called in to our Health Management Organization for an appointment.
The advice nurse conferenced-in a French translator, so that she could speak directly to the patient, and came to the conclusion that we should drive to the Emergency Room. She advised that, if anything changed in TAO's condition on the way, we should stop and call 911 immediately to have them come to us.
We were met at the hospital by a team who quickly hooked up heart monitors, IV's and oxygen, and started a regimen of tests, with no chit-chat or messing around. TAO's heart was deemed probably not to be the source of the problem and Pneumonia was investigated.
Apparently the size of the main blood clot, discovered in TAO's lungs, was impressive to all at hand. He had smaller companion-clots that were completely outshone by "The Big One" and he had a clot in his thigh also, hence the leg cramp of the day before. The new goals were clot-busting; not letting any of them get the urge to travel anywhere else; pain management, and discovering the cause. In case we were unaware of the serious implications, a doctor asked for specific instructions as to TAO's wishes regarding resuscitation, relative to different scenarios.
Private rooms are great, if small, but not an encouraging sign. I noticed years ago that TAO was allocated a shared room when things were not life-threatening and quickly reassigned to a private reservation when things started unexpectedly going south.
The hospital provided a stylish armchair that pulled out into a bed for me, as chief patient-wrangler and translator. I was able to do my worrying right there, in surround sound and technicolor.
TAO made it through and is home this evening after four nights in the hospital. He has had ultra-sounds, CT scans, X-Rays and too many blood draws and tests to remember; that have shown no cancer, or other tumors, throwing random bits into the mix. He's like a well-used car with a partial warranty. We should get some more good miles out of him still.
I haven't unpacked everything we accumulated on this excursion but I did spend an hour carefully reading the after-care instructions and situating which medication was which. We have enough oxygen tanks to make a Cousteau expedition jealous and I have new skills to put into practice with this evening's injection into TAO's belly.
A nurse is scheduled to visit us on Thursday to see how we're doing and get a blood sample, to see if the anticoagulants have reached therapeutic levels. As crazy as it sounds, we may get back to relative normalcy in just a few weeks.


  1. Bummer. Take care of yourself also.

  2. Oh, my, you have been through the ringer and then some! I'm glad he's home and you are able to take care of him. Make sure to take care of yourself too. You must be exhausted.

    1. Annette, Thanks for checking in. It was fabulous to sleep at home and make my own coffee this morning.

  3. Good heavens! What a shock, but I'm glad you got to the hospital when you did because this was serious. May TAO continue to improve.

  4. My best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

  5. O dear me, PEs. Nasty things and, as you now know, potentially life threatening. The pain is excruciating and terrifying. Poor TAO and poor you, if the PEs came out of the blue.

    I had a lungful of them as a result of major surgery; the good thing is that they fully disperse in the lucky patient. The unlucky one lives with the threat of imminent disaster - my GP is one of them.

    Bon rétablissement.

    1. Friko, sorry you had to experience this too. My secondary worry was that the doctors would find cancer as a source but it was worth the scans and waiting times to have that ruled out.

  6. I'm sorry you've had such a stressful time. Hopefully you're right and you'll be back to something like normal very soon! I hope so!

    1. Di, although miserable with pain, Hubby does like to be the center of attention and the nurses were fantastic with him.

  7. I'm glad he's safely home...and that you now have the skills to run NASA singlanded.

    I too noticed the rush to the single room when things were going pear shaped...which they generally did.

    1. Helen, there are things we observe and things we share with our spouses. Not always the same.

  8. How frightening for you both. I'm glad he's home now. Take care of yourselves.

    1. Frances, thank you. I told him, if he doesn't behave, I'll stand on his oxygen line:)

  9. Wow - scary and crazy. Glad you figured out what was going on.

    1. Joanna,
      TAO as pretty high pain thresholds. When he says he needs help, we mobilize.

  10. I'm glad things are on a better footing. Hugs to you both.

  11. Very scary but good outcome, hope life can continue on an even keel for you both x

    1. Trudi, a little knowledge is not always a good thing. I had to put my denial skills into play that first night of worrying which way things were going to end.

  12. Healing vibes from across the Ocean.
    Your blog is one of my most challenging reads. One never knows what will one find here and sometimes the oxygen would be useful!
    Hope you get some rest now...

    1. Wiola, I don't think we've ever complained of boredom:) We have lovely sunny Spring weather which helps a lot with a healing vibe. Thank you.

  13. What a scary experience. I'm glad hes doing better now and is at home.

  14. Oh my! Just catching up. Somehow I missed this. Sending good wishes to you and TAO. Will read post above to check on his recovery!

  15. So Lucky that you reacted so quickly !
    I hope you both recover in peace .

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