Sunday, January 13, 2008

DVT scare

Friday I flew back from Providence, and fell asleep for most of the Chicago->SFO leg of the journey. After walking off the plane, I felt groggy for sure, but there was something more. My right leg didn't seem to want to move the way my brain was telling it to.
It's a hard sensation to describe. It wasn't painful, neither was it like when your leg falls asleep, the best I can say was that every once in a while, there was a twinge, like it just didn't want to move.
Anyway, after I awoke more fully, I realized that my leg wasn't waking up with me. Since my mother had a DVT (blood clot in her leg) last year and spent weeks in the hospital recovering, I was a little worried, so I sat myself down on a bench to take a look at it.
My right calf and foot were blown up like a balloon, presumably filled with fluid. Wish I'd taken a picture, but I had other things on my mind.

So, I called my health insurance company, to see if they would authorize me to go to the emergency room, which they wouldn't do over the phone (so what am I supposed to do, go to their office in Sacramento or wherever?). Being midnight on a Friday night, my doctor's office was closed, and the on-call physician wouldn't call back, so I figured I'd better just go the ER and take my chances with getting re-imbursed for it. I went home first and packed all the medicines I could think of into my bag (I'm not paying $20 for a tylenol!), and a novel to help pass the time. I took two aspirins, figuring that it would be best to get going on blood thinning as soon as possible at any rate.

Well, the folks at the ER were very nice, a bunch of people came by to look at my swollen leg. "Would you look at that?" and so on. And they ordered a blood test to see if there were clotting breakdown products (d-dimers) in my blood. There weren't, apparently (<110 ng/mL, whatever that means), so they just said to go home, which I did. The swelling has slowly come down, but it's still noticeable two days later, but that strange twinging sensation is still there. It might be all in my head at this point, though. It's hard to say.

I don't know what happened, but it wasn't pleasant. So, to all my flying friends, do yourself a favor and:
1) Take an aspirin before/during the flight.
2) Avoid caffeine and alcohol before/during flight, but do drink water.
3) Get up and walk around, and/or flex your calves frequently.
4) Think about wearing one of those compression stockings during the flight.

I thought I just turned 40, not 70!

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