I thought to myself “I’m definitely going for a walk along the beach tomorrow morning.’
‘Something is wrong and I think I need to go to hospital.’
I work up with what felt like a pulled muscle on my left inner thigh. I got up and did some stretches, which made absolutely no difference. I went back to bed and couldn’t even stand having a sheet over my leg.
I woke up Pete and said ‘Something is wrong with my leg, I think I need to go to a medical clinic.’ When I got up I saw that my leg was swollen to twice the size from my knee up, except I didn’t actually have a knee to speak of. I knew the day was going to be long so I insisted on a 30 second shower even though standing was a killer.
Then I discovered that I couldn’t even dress myself. Another reason husbands are handy.
We finally got to a health clinic in Whangaparoa. I hobbled into the reception and they got me a wheelchair. I’ve never been so relieved. The doctor there wondered if Elephantiasis was rampant. My thought was ’Dude, that was a waste of your medical studies’. Even I knew what it was.
$98 later we were told to go to the hospital because they would get the blood results back faster.
Rest of the Day
We got in pretty fast to the Emergency Department of the North Shore Hospital. The first doctor, who was from South Africa agreed it was probably a Deep Vein Thrombosis. Basically the rest of the day was having blood tests, waiting for results, getting injections, and having an ultrasound. Because it came on so suddenly and had been 5 weeks after I had flown they needed to check that the clot hadn’t broken off and gone to my lungs or heart.
The specialists told me I have a DVT that runs from the top of my thigh to my knee. It’s a super big one.
Just as I was to admit me to the hospital they realised my address was in another district, so I had to be transported to Middlemore Hospital. So, after picking up Liz, who had been waiting all day at a friends, we went through peak traffic to the other side of Auckland.
There we were at 7pm eating Subway while waiting for a bed.
Pete was flying out the next day to Canberra to do a painting job which couldn’t be cancelled, so we packed Liz off to Hannah’s and Pete went home to pack.
Hospitals aren’t the quietest places to recuperate. Injections, more tests, blood pressure checks, bad food, noisy environment. Thankfully I was released the next afternoon once I had mastered injecting myself. All you do is make sure there’s no air bubbles in the needle, grab some fat, shove the needle in and push down until you hear a pop. Sounds easy right? Even after 10 days of this, it never became easy.
I left the hospital with crutches (on those for 2 weeks), lots of painkillers (drugs are awesome) and 6 months worth of blood thinners.
I made sure I wasn’t a martyr and took the painkillers religiously, not that I had a choice. The pain was incredible. I had to go and buy track pants because I couldn’t fit my jeans. I even had to buy bigger undies because mine were cutting into my swollen thigh.
Hannah made up for a leg rub of coconut oil, frankincense and a whole lot of other anti-inflammatory essential oils. Not sure if it helped, but it sure smelt good.
I came off crutches after two weeks, and just used them occasionally for another week. Thankfully I could still drive, but when Pete came back, he did all of the driving.
I have to be super religious about taking high dose blood thinners twice a day. I can’t skip a dose, and I have to have it with food. Even after 2 months I still forget to take them.
When I return to New Zealand in September I’ll go for a review to see when I can wean off the medication.
According to the specialists if I cut myself, I’ll just bleed more, but if I fall and hit my head, I need to go to the hospital immediately. I definitely bruise a lot easier and a wound takes weeks to repair itself.
I was told I need to wear a compression stocking, but what the doctors didn’t tell me is that I will have to wear it for 2 years. It’s quite warm here in Kenya, and dusty. By the afternoon my leg definitely swells up but nowhere near what it used to.
A weird thing is that my ankle, my knee and the inside of my thigh ache and burns. Mr. Google can’t tell me anything and I guess I’ll have to just live with it.
A really noticeable thing is my speed. I can walk for about 30 minutes before I have to rest and now I walk really, really slow. I have to swing my leg because it feels heavy. My goal is that by September I can start running, but I’m not super confident of that right now.
While it’s a major hassle, I’m really grateful the DVT happened in New Zealand. They have top medical care and it didn’t cost me a thing. If I was in Kenya there is a high chance that I might not be here today and if I could’ve got to a hospital, it would’ve cost thousands of dollars (which we don’t have).
People assume that everything is all better, but it’s not, but I am getting there. My leg aches a lot of the time, like 80% of my day and night.
So it will improve, and thankfully I have a patient husband who tries not to hit every pothole on the road (sometimes there’s more potholes than road) because he knows it’s painful for me.
Life is good, we need to make every day above the grave a good one – regardless of how we feel.