Week 3: Post Op and DVT

Well the rosy recovery I feel like I’ve been having took a sharp and unpleasant turn into DVT town.  At 20 days I had my second post op appointment.  I was SO EXCITED to get into a boot and honestly I still am but it did come with some bad news.  Ever since my surgery I had been having some slight calf cramping.  I did mention it to my doctor and he briefly touched my calf and said he thought I was ok and didn’t need to worry about blood clots.  I didn’t have any of the risk factors and was staying well hydrated and moving as much as felt doable while still trying to elevate a lot.  In the days before my second post op the cramping got stronger, maybe a four on the pain scale.  I thought it was from calf atrophy.  It’s pretty hard to know what is going on beneath your cast, but even if I could have seen it, I didn’t have any of the other symptoms.  My calf wasn’t hot or red or swollen.

When I mentioned the cramps to my nurse she said “you really need to be sure to tell the doctor about that” so I did.  He immediately sharpened focus and said “how would you like to get an ultrasound today?”.  I told him if he thought I should I would and he did.  Aside from all that which I will get to, my staples had stayed in a little too long (20 days) so they hurt SO BAD coming out and bled from scabbing.  I had to return to deep breathing.  I had at least 20 staples and the nurse did not offer breaks so that was an intense and bad experience.  I hugged the wall and just tried not to look.  The doctor did say I was healing really well, but the thought of my impending death by DVT made that hard to absorb (again, I am anxious lol).  I got permission to go to PT in a week and start partial weight bearing as advised.  They wrapped my foot in an ace bandage and mentioned compression socks but forgot to give me the info as I was whisked across the road to the hospital for my ultrasound.

My poor driver had not anticipated this kind of time commitment so I sent her home and called my mother to switch out (she is an angel).  The ultrasound was rough on me emotionally.  I was still in shock because I never thought I would really get a DVT at 32.  I still kind of didn’t.  I also hadn’t brought my wheelchair and was crutching across an endless expanse of hallways.  Having never had an ultrasound before I had no idea what was going on and was mostly trying not to cry.  The tech (not sure of her position honestly) told me I would hear some weird sounds from the veins.  Everyone I’ve ever seen described this process as not painful but mine did hurt.  They press quite hard and in places that already hurt if you really do have blood clots.  You do get to listen to your veins pump blood and the bad leg was like a beating drum which seemed great until I heard the healthy leg which sounded like an insane bird trilling.  Call me crazy but it does seem the should match.

The tech went to speak with my Doctor and then came back and said I did have a DVT ( Deep Vein Thrombosis) and needed to go the ER.  That is all she told me and after I got outside I just cried it out.  Then I spent 4 hours waiting in the ER.  The ER is not a place you want to be for many reasons but especially with COVID right now.  Tons of people had their noses out of their masks and several were actively vomiting in front of us with (of course) no mask.  The chairs were not 6 feet apart.  I never saw any sanitizing between patient use of items.  At this point it is about 3PM and I have not eaten or had water that day.  My leg hurts quite a bit and I was considering honestly just leaving.  It seemed like they really might never admit me.

Eventually I was checked in to pediatrics because they were so busy.  They apologized and said I would recieve the same level of care.  I honestly was just happy to be seen at all and like the kids ward better anyway (I’m a children’s librarian).  The PA came in and perscribed me Xeralto at a speech rate that rivals Gilmore Girls.  When I got home I ordered Panera and almost fell asleep in my soup and for a day I was just in constant leg pain at about level 5.  I have a follow up appointment with my primary care doctor in 4 days to see how long I should stay on the blood thinners and hopefully learn more about my clot.  I do know that it is in a part of the leg that they are slightly less worried about breaking off.

It has been rough.

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