And then there was the blood clot, and SXSW

Amy SxSW Crutches

You know when you go to the hospital emergency room and they scan your ID bracelet, except it doesn’t work? And then the nurse realizes that’s because he is scanning the bracelet from the OTHER hospital you visited that day?

Yeah. That happened to me last week.

The hospitals are right next to each other, in the same network and one sent me to the other, so perhaps it’s not THAT crazy. But still…

I filled you in a two weeks ago about my knee arthroscopy surgery, which for even my close friends had been a surprise. I hadn’t shared much before the surgery because, as usual, there was so much else going on and I didn’t want anyone needlessly worrying.

After surgery, the day I wrote that post, I noticed my calf was a bit sore. I wondered if perhaps it was due to my physical therapy exercise, so I used the app from the doctor’s office and sent a message to the nurse. It was Friday afternoon and I didn’t hear back, so I let it go.

Monday afternoon I still didn’t hear back and noticed that when I stood, I got a dull ache in that same calf. I messaged again and still didn’t get a response.

Meanwhile, the great rotavirus that took out so many students in a two-day period at my children’s school that the health department began calling parents also impacted every single one in my house,except my husband. This included my parents who had come in to attend Grandparents’ Day celebrations at that very school. So our weekend was adventurous. Or not.

My parents left Monday and the kids began Spring Break.

Wednesday morning that virus finally claimed my husband’s stomach and, as I realized this, the phone rang and it was the nurse from the surgeon’s office, apologizing for not getting back with me sooner and essentially telling me to head to the hospital right away for an ultrasound on my leg.

I hadn’t driven anywhere since before surgery and my husband was in no state to take me anywhere. Not knowing what this hospital visit might entail, I packed up a book and my laptop and got ready to leave.

The nurse called back.

She told me the hospital was so backed up that the soonest they could get to me was 8 hours later and instructed me to go to the bigger hospital next door. She also suggested I take advantage of the free valet parking. (Nice bonus!)

I drove to the hospital, feeling a bit wild and free, since it was only my second time out of the house in more than a week.

I was pretty much in denial that anything might be found, though. I was such a low risk for a blood clot. But that dull ache was bugging me…

At the hospital I had an ultrasound of my entire left leg and then the very kind ultrasound technician explained that my doctor (or a doctor in his place) would need to be consulted as a concern was found. He said he needed to go run a procedure with another patient, but would persist in locating the doctor and would be back in about 30 minutes with the next steps for me. Then he kindly asked if I would like a little reading music.  I told him I like jazz, so he cued up music by Steve Tyrell on the computer in the office and my mind began racing.

What did a blood clot mean? Was I going to be admitted into the hospital? Would I need surgery?

I texted a bit with my husband, and also my brother who was in town for a few days and with whom I had dinner plans that night. My first text was kinda like this:

“So, I may not be able to make dinner tonight as a result of being in the hospital for a blood clot today.”

I’m sure he appreciated that.

The super nice ultra sound technician (Ugh. I am so sorry I can’t remember his name. He was so kind and accommodating!!) returned 20 minutes later  love that– rather than keep me waiting, he came back earlier than he anticipated!) and explained that I would need to walk to the emergency room of the hospital next door for blood tests and that the doctor there would determine the best next steps.

The words “Emergency” and “Room” together alerted me.

“Don’t let that get you,” he said. “You are being sent there because then your blood tests can get done more quickly.”

Aaah. Okay.

And then he walked me to the edge of the building and pointed the back way to the other hospital.

I hobbled into the ER, which sounds much more dramatic than it was. At least I think so. That’s what the ultrasound tech said, right?

It was actually pretty quiet in there and, for about 30 minutes, I was their only patient.

They had been expecting me and pretty quickly got down to the business of drawing my blood and ushering me in for a pregnancy test. (It was negative, Mom, incase you are wondering.)

I was told that I indeed had a blood clot in my calf and that they would be in touch with a primary care physician (since I did not have one) to decide the best plan. I told the doctor that I anticipated being in Austin for South by Southwest that weekend for work and asked if that was likely.

He couldn’t give me an definitive answer. I got the feeling he didn’t understand the importance of me being in Austin and/or I didn’t understand the importance of me being in the hospital at that moment.

He stepped out of my room.

The nurse then began asking me all those routine health questions:

Do I smoke? NO

Use drugs? NO

Consume alcohol? Welllllll. Yes. You see it’s my job. Kinda.

And then the conversation about Wine4.Me began and I gave him a few wine recommendations.

Once he finished, he left the room, and the doctor, who had been about 15 feet from the open door during that conversation, came back in the room.

“Did I see you on TV a few weeks ago talking about wine and a wine app?” he said.

“Yes.” I responded.

“So you really do need to get to Austin,” he said.

“Yes. I’m pitching at some pretty big meetups.”

And then he was off again. I heard him conferring with another doctor by phone. He returned a few moments later with the plan.

I was to take a blood thinner orally (No IVS! No shots!) twice a day for three weeks, then switch to once a day for the next 6 months.

“And no bicycle races or marathons, either,” He said.

I think he thought he was being funny. I didn’t think that was funny.

“Really? Why not? Are you sure?” I said.

You see, at this point I still had delusions of riding part of the MS150, perhaps just the first 40 or so miles on the first day. I had convinced myself that, since it was the flattest part of the ride, I could still do that and take in some of the cycling experience.

He explained to me that because I am on blood thinners, if I should bleed, my blood wouldn’t clot as well and so, if I get in any sort of accident, the risk of more blood loss than normal (or acceptable) is now a reality.

Oh. Okay. This is a big deal.

We talked a bit more about blood thinners and he gave me the name of a doctor with whom to schedule a follow up appointment. He sent me home with a stack of papers and some well-wishes.

That night I did end up meeting my brother out for dinner, who then gave me more insight into the seriousness of my blood clot, among much other, more delightful, conversation.

And the next day I did pack up and drive to Austin for 5 incredible days of SXSW interactive. (That’s one of my selfies from the weekend up top.)

I took a pillow-pet laden crutch to use in walking, as SXSW spans nearly all of downtown Austin, and I walked many, many blocks each day, as well as stood in lines and at parties. I also had the opportunity to pitch VineSleuth/ Wine4.Me in front of two sessions and got some fantastic feedback and met some fascinating and potentially very helpful people.

Navigating the crowds with a crutch was quite an experience, as well pretty much every second. It was really fantastic to be in the midst of so many amazing, creative people from all over the world.  And my pitches were both great experiences, too.

But I’ll have to fill you in on all of that next time…

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