It was a pretty normal week really, I had spent it sewing in my studio. I had been sewing for three long days that week. Wednesday night while sleeping, I woke up several times in the night with pains in my calf and leg. It was the same leg that I had surgery on in April, so I've become pretty accustomed to pain on that side. Thursday, my calf hurt badly enough that I took the day off sewing and started taking Advil. I thought that because my calf muscles are still pretty weak from the surgery (they had to cut and lengthen my achilles tendon back there), and that I've not used my machine as much since the surgery, that was why my muscles felt so tight and aching.
Thursday night, I noticed that I was getting a little winded. I hadn't felt 100% all day, and thought perhaps I was coming down with something. While trying to fall asleep last night I had some pretty intense chest pains that hurt more with deep breaths. The kind of pains you get when you're in the midst of a panic attack (if you've had them, you know what I mean.) Finally though it passed and I fell asleep.
Friday. I just couldn't catch my breath. My heart kept racing. Stairs left me standing bent over, huffing and puffing for air. I was trying to put laundry away, and bent to pick up something, and could not catch my breath. I felt wrong, but could not really pin point or say what it was. I kept telling my hubby that I felt off. I asked him to stay home from work for the morning. I went down to my studio, I was supposed to do a FaceTime session with a friend - but that wouldn't happen.
It was then I remembered I had a blood pressure monitor, because I saw it across the room. (Thank God I asked for this thing for Christmas a couple years ago!) I have always had low blood pressure, but when I took my blood pressure Friday morning it was insanely high for me. Hubby thought perhaps since the batteries were low it was reading wrong, we changed them. He took his a couple times, and no, it was accurate. I looked at him and said, "We need to go." I went to my clinic, but they aren't set up for immediate ultrasounds and CTs, so we had to drive to the ER. (Where we waited in line a good thirty minutes.
I was admitted to the hospital after my ultrasound and CT scan, with a deep vein thrombosis in my right leg (surgery leg), and multiple pulmonary embolisms in both lungs and mid lobe. My blood pressure was spiking and my heart rate while resting was spiking into the 120s and higher at times. I was hooked up to an iv immediately at that point and started on heparin. They also wired me with an EKG monitor. I spent a sleepless night, sharing a room with a loud and morphine seeking neighbor. Amazingly, I was sent home the next evening, Saturday night, with some pills and an order to make an appointment with my regular physician. I will be on blood thinners for the next six months. I'm also thankful that they told me my heart looks REALLY healthy and strong.
I'm still dealing with the psychological mark this has left on me, as well as feelings of anxiety. I also still have pains in my DVT leg, that may persist for some time depending on how much damage the clot did to the veins there. Mostly, I am just thankful to still be alive. I am thankful I listened to my body and went in (despite trying to talk myself out of it at every turn.)
Why am I telling you all this? Because of the sewing. While obviously the surgery leg is likely the main cause of this situation, I strongly believe that it was directly linked to the three straight days of 8+ hours of sewing I did. I had set up my ironing station and cutting station right next to my machine so I didn't have to get up at all. I was "saving time". I didn't have to stand at all, just turn my chair and I could go from stitching to pressing to trimming and back again. I will be removing the ironing and trimming station from my sewing station. I will be setting it up so I have to walk a bit to each station, and get my circulation going again. I will be setting a timer to be sure I am not sitting at the machine for too long of periods without getting up and moving around a bit.
So my bequest to all of you dear readers is that you:
- Take breaks and get up and move, sitting for long periods increases your chance of a DVT/PE occurrence
- Know that just because you're perfectly healthy, you can still get a DVT and/or Pulmonary Embolism.
- When you think something could be wrong, just go in, it's better to be over-reacting than dead.
Take care all, and the most heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!