It has been nearly a month since I wrote my rant about the issues I was having with my host, Weebly, when it came to design. In the week after I had written that article, I was able to find an old template on a third-party website that was still available, worked perfectly, and most of the troubles I had griped about were resolved. This came after attempting to contact another third-party designer for a template that was priced at $40 USD and who never responded after four weeks despite having a 48-hour average response time according to Zendesk. I doubt they are still in business yet are still taking your money for nothing in return.
I wanted to write a follow-up about the new design and plans for future projects but that never happened, and this is why.
On the 8th of March, I started coming down with a chill and fever. My first thought was “Motherfucker!” as I was beginning to think that I was developing COVID-19 despite having been at home most of the time, not going out without an N95 mask (my father was a contractor and I have a surplus from when I worked with his business), and only meeting with people within my bubble. I then developed a pain in my left shoulder like a pulled muscle, and by the time I went to bed it was radiating around my left pectoral muscle and around to my back. I could not lie down without incredible pain, and lying on my back felt like I was going to suffocate. I ended up sitting on my bed all night wrapped in a puff. By sunrise, I had a severe and painful shortness of breath that made me think that I had been shot through the chest, dizziness, and pain in my legs that made putting shoes on uncommonly difficult. I brushed my teeth and immediately went to the local hospital’s emergency room.
Because of my symptoms I was put in a biohazard room and the nurses and doctor had to be in full PPE when approaching me, but by this point I was sure that I had either a pulmonary embolism or a collapsed lung and told the staff of my suspicions. My blood pressure was low and my heart rate was a whopping 132 beats per minute. I was immediately put on an IV of fluids, pain medications, antibiotics and Benadryl to prevent an allergic reaction, had my chest X-rayed and several vials of blood were drawn. The initial tests were normal but my D-dimer was through the roof, indicating a massive amount of protein fragments in my bloodstream related to the dissolving of a clot. A CT scan confirmed my hypothesis and I was diagnosed with a large saddle pulmonary embolism.
I was about 20 minutes away from death, at best, when I arrived at the ER.
I was immediately put on an IV of Heparin to start thinning the blood, and by this time I was breathing a little better as the pain medication had really kicked in. Of course, I also received two COVID tests (one longer test that was more accurate purely by accident, and a second rapid test). Both came back negative. I also must state that the COVID tests are nothing and that talking heads on local and cable news should really not discuss them as being “painful” or “like having your brain pulled out” because they are full of shit and making people hesitant about getting tested which can help stop the spread of the outbreak by identifying infected groups and via contact tracing. It is a tiny throat swap and then a small insertion into both nostrils. It is quick and completely painless.
By this point, my phone was blowing up from family and friends and I finally had time to start texting some of them back while the Heparin went to work and I watched The Foreigner on the Sy-Fy channel because it was something that was on TV. I hate that name; go back to Sci-Fi like a normal person. After 40 minutes of Heparin, I was given a stomach injection of Lovenox while awaiting a free bed at a larger hospital either north or south of my hometown.
I ended up heading north and was admitted in the late afternoon of the 8th and stayed until the morning of the 13th, making this my longest hospital stay to date (and hopefully ever). Going to the bathroom was the worst because I had a roommate and I needed to carry a heart monitor and the IV stand with me every time I needed to take a leak, which was incredibly often as I was on intravenous fluids for five straight days. My right leg had also swelled to elephant like proportions at this time, and further ultrasounds on my chest and limbs revealed that I had deep vein thrombosis in said leg.
My DVT was completely asymptomatic prior to my hospitalization: I had no pain, no warmth, redness, itching, swelling or anything. Had it not been for the PE, I would never have known that there was a time bomb sitting in either my thigh or calf waiting to detonate at any moment. It just chose the height of a global health crisis to do so. Neat!
I have to say, there is nothing like being plugged into an IV and having an alarm go off every five seconds because my arm moved a tiny bit. That was awesome. Scratching an itch? Alarm! Taking medications? Alarm! Eating? Alarm! I had so much tape on my right arm to hold that drip in place that I still have marks from it nearly three weeks later!
And what can I say about hospital food other than it is better than a meal in jail:
Mystery meat is as mysterious as ever.
That pasta was delicious because it was the first time I could handle eating anything and everything, even the alleged “meat” ball. But the other thing? I still do not know what that is! I am guessing it is supposed to be some sort of pulled pork? It tasted like salt, which is great when you have blood clots. I suppose they had Bender working in the kitchen that day.
Around all of this were two Lovenox doses every day until my final night when I could at last switch to the oral blood thinner Eliquis. Lovenox is weird in that the needle and injection are painless, but about thirty seconds later the site of the injection starts to burn. It is not anything painful, just a very annoying sensation that lasts about a minute and this became a point of anxiety as I would worry that my dose would be forgotten, or I would dread the weird tingles created in the aftermath of delivery.
My favourite part of being hospitalized is the random vital and blood checks done at say four-o’clock in the morning. Nothing like finally getting a little sleep and being roused by six nurses in the room to check you and your roommate, getting eight vials of blood taken and then trying to sleep again before the sun rises and you are forced to stay awake for even more blood tests, an injection of Lovenox to the gut and then sitting in bed all day with only a few TV channels that come in through the satellite reliably. I am thankful that my mom, who visited daily even with the extra security over COVID, brought me a book on local murder and mystery to read until I was discharged.
For five days I could not clean up properly aside from an Oxy pad used on my face, chest and arms. I cannot describe how gross it feels to not have a shower for nearly a week so that was the first thing I did when I came home. Shaving my six day beard was another luxury as I rarely, if ever, go more than a couple days without trimming the stubble off. I also have lost over twenty pounds and am not gaining that back quickly, so now I need a whole new set of jeans. Looking in the mirror for the first time in my own house, I felt like Jesse Pinkman at the end of Breaking Bad.
Though I have been home for two weeks, recovery from the PE will take at least nine months to two whole years. My right leg is still swollen but is about 60% smaller than the size it was in the hospital. That alone will take months to return to normal. I will also be on Eliquis for at least six months and, pending further genetic testing to see whether clotting is something that I am prone to, it could be a permanent addition to my medicine cabinet. While I was negative for any factor V mutations, the most common genetic variant that causes a vulnerability to blood clots, there are still further investigations to be done.
Today I had a follow-up with the pulmonologist but nothing new was gained other than a third referral to a hematologist that is still trapped in the red tape of insurance. That will be critical in understanding if I will require blood thinners temporarily or for life, and is now required before I can get a COVID vaccine or visit the dentist for a routine cleaning. Again, fun!
The good news is that I can walk without a cane (that lasted only two days for balance) and I can fit my right foot into socks, shoes and slippers again without difficulty. It still looks super freaky, but it is not a pillow anymore. I still have a small tightness in my chest where my left lung was damaged a little, but that will heal in its time and has been getting better each day. I am also alive, so that is good depending on how you view my existence.
I have so many appointments to make and attend in the coming months but will try to keep this blog updated with what is occurring. I want to thank all of my family and friends who have helped and are continuing to help me in my recovery and I am eternally grateful for all of your support. Love you all!