Instead of one blood clot in the thigh, I now have a second one in my lower calf of the same leg, which I discovered after going to the ER on New Years Day evening. The male PA poked my legs once, looked at a chart and at me, and said that he thought the problem was water retention, but that we’d do an ultrasound anyway just to be sure.
I was ready to sock him. I know the difference between edema due to water retention and edema from something else. The last time I had the same symptoms, they found a big chronic thrombus in the thigh after I complained long and loud that taking diuretics wasn’t fixing it. This time I also had sharp targeted pain in a specific spot on the calf and my foot was blown up like a water balloon.
And, when the ultrasound tech got there 3 hours later, she did indeed find another clot. She showed me the screen as she did the scan, which was cool. And gratifying. They decided to admit me but there wasn’t a bed available until 3:15am. I had a lovely private room and was there until discharge on Wednesday afternoon.
I saw the nurses when it was time for meds, and the CNA when it was time for vitals or when I pressed the Nurse button. I needed help to use the bedside commode. Well, actually, I didn’t need it once I asked them for a walker and to put the commode in front of my locked wheelchair so it was braced and stable. I could get my legs out of the bed by myself and finally figured out how to use a twisted bed sheet as a leg lifter to get back in on my own. I do this all the time at home.
My first day there was the Monday observance of New Years Day, which meant that doctors they needed to talk to weren’t working. I spent time watching TV, including many hours of Kevin McCarthy losing votes for Speaker, and reading reports of blood tests and doctor consults on the MyChart app. That’s how I learned the hospitalist had consulted with the vascular surgeon and the hematology/oncology people.
I also learned that all of these reports had a lot of wrong information because no one asked me the questions. I suppose the medical people think that all people in wheelchairs have problems I don’t have. I do not have urinary incontinence. I do not need daily assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL). I do not live in Assisted Living. I do not need a daily nurse visit. I manage my own meds.
A physical therapist came to evaluate me and was impressed that I could stand up on my own from the bed using the water. Dude, I’ve been doing that for 15 months. I stand up all the time. I couldn’t walk for her because I didn’t bring my AFO’s since my foot was too swollen to fit into my shoe when I left home. Mostly it was not a very productive visit – but at least I got to see someone.
The social worker apparently picked the exact same time as the PT to come see me. But instead of coming back, she called my brother who is my contact person. Tom pointed out that I was compos mentis and could answer her questions myself. Her report was full of wrong things that made me seethe. I don’t think any of them were that important but together it was just sloppy work.
One thing the doctors did get right, though, was admitting me as an inpatient and not for observation, something I asked about that first morning. I knew that there was a difference in how Medicare covered hospital admissions for those two categories. I was relieved when the doctor said I was admitted as an inpatient, which means that Part A covers the stay.
The hematologist finally saw me on Tuesday evening. He told me I need to stay on blood thinners for the rest of my life, which I had already figured out was probable because of my weight, the fact that I already had one clot, and the sedentary life I now live. Switching to Lovenox (with the shots in the tummy) isn’t a good idea, and switching to Warfarin would require regular visits to have blood checked to regulate dosage. That’s not as easy for someone who has to arrange for transportation for every visit. Xarelto is wicked expensive but it’s just a teeny pill that works the same as the others.
But I still don’t understand how I was admitted to the hospital with a second clot that developed while on Xarelto for 6 months and went home 4 days later with exactly the same problem and medicine. The vascular surgeons are going to monitor me and plan to treat it all with medication and not surgical intervention, so I have a scheduled appointment with them and another with my primary care doctor to get more blood work done (oh joy). It will also be my face-to-face visit required by insurance in getting a power chair. I have lots of questions for all of them.
ADDED: One good thing that happened, though, was getting a DNR prepared, witnessed, and is now in my permanent file at the hospital.