Posted on February 28, 2017
Posted on February 28, 2017A bigger update on my health recovery progress, than maybe the sparse facebook updates that I have been doing as I share this crowdfunding page.
People have already been generous beyond my wildest imaginings. On the page here, and/or sending me donations privately with email transfers, or from a few folks, cold hard cash. Every penny has been used to pay my rent, bills, buy my medications and so on.
To refresh you, or inform, if it’s your first time seeing this, not everybody sees my facebook posts, where I have given more details. So without further rambling, let me tell you the story of my 2016 Christmas and New Year’s and 2017 thus far.
Christmas Eve, I had a traditional cookie based dinner and 3 really delicious cans of apple cider and went to bed slightly tipsy, but otherwise feeling fine. Earlier in the day, I had had a bit of a sore hip, which a few days earlier I had landed on, taking a spill on the back stairs. The hip hadn’t bothered me, or looked bruised or anything through the week, but before my sweet tooth xmas dinner of Chinese take out and cookies, I laid on my heating pad for awhile, and the pain went away. I went to bed around 11pm ish as I do most nights, reading for half an hour maybe. I woke up maybe an hour later, sweating like crazy under my extra blanket, as it was unseasonably cold for Vancouver, (and all that ice and snow!) and made my way to the bathroom for a wee tinkle. As I sat on the toilet, I almost passed out, as I felt all woozy, and I started sweating horribly from the top of my head, real sweats. I almost passed out, or maybe I did. I was resting my head on the counter, and felt the dizziness go away, and I felt much better after a few more minutes. Maybe I should have been worried here, but I was not thinking straight at all, and I just climbed back into bed, flipping the sweaty pillow. I woke again early in the morning for another pee, felt totally fine.
But then I woke up later my usual 7-8am ish, more in the 9-10 range iirc, and felt some real pain shooting down and up my left leg. I was really thirsty, and went to get up for some water before my morning whathaveyou, and I noticed that my left leg was swollen to at least twice it’s normal girth, the whole leg, and red as heck. ‘That’s not right’. I thought. And after making coffee, getting my brain working, I posted on Facebook about it, ‘maybe I should go to Energ’? Yes, everyone replied, do it now. A friend offered to take me. The pain wasn’t so bad, and the swelling peaked, so I waited for my friend, and eventually in the afternoon sometime I got to the hospital, Mount Saint Joseph’s. I avoided the ‘big’ hospitals because I figured they would be jammed with xmas horrors.
To make a long story even longer, I got into the ER, and right away they were figuring blood clot, aka DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis. Which is exactly what it turned out to be. The doctor told me this, asking me as well, “oh how long have you had diabetes?” I was shocked to hear that, on top of this life threatening blood clot. I replied, “Umm since you just told me right now.” Apparently my blood sugar was super high on top of the clot, which likely those things fed each other a bit as far as how this all went down.
So, I ended up in ICU for almost 3 days, then another 8 or 9 days in the regular wing of the hospital for my initial recovery. I was on several IV drips, had all sorts of testing, ended up with a pulmonary embolism in my lungs as the blood clot (which I just found out the other day, stretched or stretches the entire length of my leg, not just in one spot as I had thought) moved through my body while they gave me courses of blood thinners. So I had a bit of a double whammy diagnosis, and have been trying to adjust to eating healthier, which has always been a bit of a struggle with me. And, having to deal with a real loss of stamina from the blood clot and being in the hospital for almost two weeks. I am getting around with a cane, and my leg doesn’t swell up through the day, as much as it did when I first got out of the hospital, when I was worried, it might be swollen forever. It still hurts to walk or stand, or to sit, or even if I lay on that side, for too long. I have to keep changing position.
Lucky for me, I was able to even with hospital food able to get the blood sugar sorta kinda stabilized, so that I don’t have to take insulin to help regulate my sugar. I do have to take two other meds twice a day, and blood thinners once a day, to help keep my blood in the ‘good range’ while my leg and lungs heal. I still am taking my medications for hypertension, or high blood pressure as well. So many blood issues? Are they related. I can’t help but assume so. The blood thinners aren’t so expensive, but I have had to go for a lot of testing and retesting as the dosage needs to change depending on lots of circumstances, how well they are working. So careful with the diet, as best I can, which is helpful, obviously for the diabetes. I’ve gone from having a beer or two with dinner a few times a week to maybe once a week or every two weeks.
I have also not been able to take my estrogen or anti-androgens for my HRT whilst on the thinners, and recuperating. The estrogen raises the risk of blood clots in anyone, so obviously while in hospital that was suspended. At the Thrombosis Clinic the other day, talking with the specialists, I found out that I will have to be on the thinners until June (6 months) at the minimum, when I will get more tests done (ultra sound and Chest CT) to find out how well that’s healed.
This not being able to take my HRT meds has added to both my emotional stress in healing as well as the physical, as my hormones are totally in flux, changing from meds and lack of meds. The good news to my POV from the Thrombosis Specialists was that I should be able to go back on the anti-androgens anytime, as they don’t pose a blood clot risk at all, and after my tests in the summer, if I want to go back on the estrogen, there can be a balance achieved with thinners and estrogen. They said that the fact that I was on estrogen for several years without any clots means that the clot was not solely due, or even mostly due to being on HRT. But rather a confluence of blood related issues I have, as well as being overweight, prone to sitting at my computer a lot, so many things. Which was my own self diagnosis. It feels good to have that be confirmed.
Anyway. Where I am now, is that early in my recovery, people were so generous in helping me financially, I never bothered applying for any social assistance, as I had far too much money in the bank (which they look at when assessing you) to qualify. Then as the money was running out, I had a few freelance gig offers, so again, I let welfare wait. Then, the freelance gigs all got cancelled or pushed back a few weeks, so I applied for social assistance. They are supposed to get back to you in 5 business days, but their reality is understaffed, thus that’s usually 9-14 days... Rent is in two days. Sigh. I haven’t been doing too much ‘traditional job hunting,’ as I haven’t had much luck with that in the last three years. The jobs I have gotten in that time have all been great freelance, or contracts.
So here I am, in the midst of recovering from a very close call deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism (oh and hospital flu on top) and trying to live a healthier lifestyle to keep my blood sugar and blood pressure under control, or at least not have them spiral out of control, and trying to find enough work, sell enough art, or writing to make my bills. It feels weird to feel good that I am only paying slightly more than half my March rent with my credit card. But you gotta do what you gotta do to survive.
I am blessed to have been employed and solvent long enough to have the big amount of credit I have, or had until recently. Too much robbing Peter to pay Paul, as they say or used to say. I really am on a clear road to recovery, but it’s kind of expensive. I have applied to get my fair pharma care deductible lowered or removed, but until then things like all these new drugs and especially the blood sugar test strips for the diabetes, are really decimating my credit limit. I’ll probably get some money back when pharma care comes through, but till then those strips are like 80 bucks for a hundred, and the first 6 weeks I was doing BS testing 4 times a day, getting used to doing it, and often going through a lot of strips just getting one result. Now I’ve got it down, and am only testing twice a day, but still. I don’t expect pharma care to come through for a couple more months, based on past experience.
Aside from all these physical recovery/work/money woes, I also feel like this whole experience has taken so much out of me emotionally, I do not have energy, I have to really work up motivation to do the things I need to do like buy healthy food, and make healthy meals, get exercise. My creative life has been sapped. I am having a hard time writing, a hard time even remembering how to do a lot of things. Sometimes I feel like some of my cognitive abilities were drained throughout the initial ordeal. I know what I am capable of, but have a hard time recalling how to be capable.
Boy this is pretty lengthy, maybe I can still write some. I hope that I have given a clear picture of where I am at in my recovery and what sort of help I am looking to find. I am just trying to get on my feet, financially, emotionally, confidence wise as much as I have physically recovered.
Once again, I cannot thank everyone who has shared, donated or simply sent their best wishes to me in this time. It has meant the world to me, and always will. In the hospital I felt so alone, so lost, and then Ray, Ray, and Nour stepped up and helped me get back on my feet, and so many folks gave their time, their money and energy to get me this far. It will carry me forward just as much as any further time, money or love sent my way. Also if you have a small job, someone in recovery, with my self taught skills and talents can help you out with, shoot me an email or something. XOXO