Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Short Story

Memorial Day weekend, I was caught up in a crash that occurred directly in front of me while racing at the Hellyer Velodrome.  The most significant injury was an open fracture of my clavicle, which was surgically repaired the next day.  The following day, Monday, I was discharged and returned to San Francisco.  Early Tuesday morning, I felt severe pain in my right side, lower rib cage area.  I thought it was an undiagnosed rib fracture perhaps, but wasn't sure. The pain would subside and then return.  It made breathing difficult although I was not short of breath. I was worried I had experienced some head trauma and that I might not be getting enough O2 to my brain.  Late afternoon, I checked into the ER, where they determined I had 3 small blood clots in my lungs.  I was admitted to the hospital immediately and started on IV heparin to help dissolve the clots.  They would never really tell me I would make it through the whole thing so it was pretty traumatic.  I stayed in the hospital for 2 more days while they started adjusting my INR, which is the measure of how much the blood is clotting.  They want mine between 2 and 3.  I am taking a heparin injection (Lovenox) twice a day and warfarin (Coumadin aka rat poison) once a day to bring my levels up.  On Thursday when I was discharged, I was at 1.5.  While on warfarin, I am at risk for severe bleeding if I experience any trauma, so bike racing is obviously out.  I think cycling is out in general, since even a slow-moving fall could result in serious injury.  Also, "strenuous" exercise is out according to my doctor--such as exercise that might put a lot of strain on the muscles. (!!)  I am finding it really hard to get any medical advice on what that means, exactly, since I don't exactly fit the typical profile for people on blood thinners.  My doctor said most of his patients are elderly and that he doesn't have anyone in their 30s or 40s.  I don't think he can really understand my life.  I feel like I have been given a 6 month sentence and that I am now this fragile person--"Handle with care."  I think my body and mind were primed from the trauma last year, and it has been hard.  It is devastating to me because I had worked really hard to recover physically and mentally from last year, and was just at the point where everything was coming together.  Now, I find myself at the beginning again.  But this time, I don't know where I am heading.

I should add, on a more positive note, that I have gotten through this completely from the support of friends and family.  Thank you for your visits, calls, emails, flowers and other gifts.  I am very grateful.  Also, the clots seem to be dissolving so the long term prognosis is good.


Rachel said...

Thinking of you!!

Betsy B said...

Wow. I wish I could do something to help... but have a feeling you are more tapped into the world than I am when it comes to the right kind of docs.

Carol said...

Anne, I'm so sorry you're going through this. Praying there is a silver lining in this dark cloud for you.