24 August 2016

the saga continues ......

Over the past few months, starting with Anklegate back in May (fucking May, people) and now Clotocalypse (a name my friend Carla came up with that I like so much I'm stealing), people keep commending me on my good attitude. Which, quite frankly, is a little disturbing because I am as pessimistic as they come.

In this case, though, I just keep telling people "It is what it is" because, well, it is what it is. There is literally nothing I can do to change anything, I can only follow the directives of the doctors and nurses assigned to my care.

That doesn't mean it doesn't get frustrating at times and on Monday I reached one of those frustrating moments in the Coumadin Clinic when my INR levels had dropped.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm still taking the Lovenox shots while I wait for my INR levels to get to the right place. This requires pretty much every other day blood testing and on Friday I finally hit the magic number. I need two good tests in a row and they are closed on the weekends so it had to wait until Monday. So, I go in Monday after work and ..... my numbers are down. By, like, a lot.


I just, I can't. The nurse asks if I ate a whole bunch of leafy green vegetables over the weekend. Um. No. Because I'm not an idiot. You all keep repeating how important it is to not eat those, at least not right now, because they can counteract the Coumadin. You really think I'm gonna go all krazy on kale when I'm in one blood test result away from ditching the shots? Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

Sigh.

The only thing that keeps changing is the dosage because it's all MATH! and SCIENCE! and some bizarro formula they use so each and every single time I have a different amount of meds to take and I just have to kind of trust them but it's so frustrating when the number goes up and then down and I'm not doing anything differently.

Yesterday I call my vascular surgeon (who I heart so much by the way) which was the plan we set up after my follow-up with him last week. Based on my numbers being nowhere near where they should be three weeks post hospital, they decided to switch me to one of the newer blood thinner medications. This means 1) no more self-injections and 2) no more needing to get my blood tested every other day! YAY!

So that's where I am today, which is a much better place than I was on Monday. In other news, I had a follow-up with the bone doc who wants me to say in the air cast for another four weeks (sigh) but hopefully when I go back in late September he'll be able to give me the okay and clear me for exercise. FINALLY. Ohmygosh. My anxiety has been outta control as of late and I have no doubt it's partly from not having a good way of exerting all the pent up nervous energy.

My appointment is the Thursday before the Akron Half Marathon. Trust me, the irony of this is not lost on this runner.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

22 August 2016

Mondays are for Coffee & Contemplation


Technically I stole paraphrased this line from Netflix's STRANGER THINGS but whatever. I want to start doing more weekly blog series and so this is one I just kind of made up because I needed something for Monday and, well, here we are. Right now I sort of anticipate it being a kind of catch-all of things on that have been on my mind or going on in my life. Who knows, maybe this will end up being the only week.

1) SHIT IS GETTIN' REAL, YO.


My book Running With a Police Escort: Tales from the Back of the Pack is 4 1/2 months away from publication and entering the advanced readers copy stage of things. While fabulous people are getting early access to the book, my editor and I are working on, um, editing the book and making it all prety and perfect for publication. She picked the chapter name font above, which just proves she's the perfect person to be working on this book.

1a) Four and a half months, holy shit. I really need to start working on that book launch party like I've been walking about for weeks.

2) I've now been hospital free for three weeks and my new normal is becoming a little more natural. I'm still giving myself twice daily injections of Lovenox but hopefully today will be the last day -- I have another appointment at the Coumadin Clinic after work tonight and if my INR levels are the same as they were on Friday, I can stop the shots. Which would be great because they are a) annoying and b) really fucking expensive.

3) Last week I had a follow-up with my vascular surgeon who performed the transcatheter procedure on my DVT and all I can say is I heart him so much. Because of the whole general anesthesia thing, I don't really remember much of my interactions with him. But now that I'm, y'know, not on drugs he's pretty awesome. I was telling this to BC over the weekend, but all I pretty much know about surgeons I learned from television where they are often portrayed as the hot shots in the hospital and all pompous and arrogant and he is the exact opposite. He's also a patient advocate: when he found out how much the Lovenox was costing me, he did a literal facepalm.


I'm supposed to call him tonight or tomorrow after I get my blood checked and if I'm still not where I need to be he's going to see if we can come up with a Plan B.

4) Which is good, because, as I said, it's not cheap. It also was a pain in the ass to get it filled by my regular doctor after I ran out of refills on the original script from the hospital. It took two days and four phone calls and me breaking down, sobbing so hard I could barely get the words out, before they actually expedited the order like they said they'd been doing for two days. My doc normally needs 2 - 4 days to call a script in. The Lovenox usually arrives with enough for about 5 days. Which means I basically need to call in a refill as soon as I pick the first set up. Only then, depending on how my INR levels are, I potentially end up with a prescription to pick up that I won't need. So. Much. Angst.

5) So much angst, in fact, that I think I may have had an anxiety attack earlier this week while trying to get the prescription filled. I don't know, I've never had one before, but it was a very, very scary hour or so where I really had no idea what the fuck was going on and just felt so fucking weird and at one point my face was all flushed, things got blurry for a second, and there were huge yellow spots in my field of vision. It was at that point that I started crying on the phone because I was so worried I wouldn't get my prescription filled in time.

6) As I have been reminded by friends, I've had some pretty hardcore shit happen to me as of late. My friend Missy thinks short term counseling might be a good idea. I'm looking into that. I've never really dealt with my anxiety in any real way, this seems like as good a time as any.

7) Oh yeah, I also have a follow-up with my bone doctor today about my ankle. Y'know, the ankle that started this whole mess three and a half months ago. I've been wearing an air cast for a couple of weeks now and because of the hospital and his schedule, I'm coming in about a week and a half later than he first said so, who knows. Maybe my ankle will be all magically healed.

8) Dealing with this has been tricky because I need to get up and walk around often because of the blood clot, but I'm also still dealing with a fractured ankle. Awkward. It's sort of like with my diet: I want to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet but because of the blood thinners the nurse said no dark, leafy green veggies until I get my INR levels to 2 since Vitamin K can counteract the meds. Once my levels are okay we'll work on reintroducing them but for now, that means no salads, none of my green smoothies, all of that good stuff, which means that whole healthy well-balanced diet is tricky, to say the least.

9) In other news, my fabulous FitBloggin friend Meredith was in town this weekend visiting family! We had breakfast on Saturday and walked around the Coventry neighborhood. I'm a west sider and Coventry is out east so I don't get out there very often but it's one of my favorite neighborhoods so I was more than happy to have an excuse to cross the river.


10) Also, on the subject of coffee, HOW AWESOME IS MY NEW MUG?!


I got it from the Harry Potter Alliance, which is this really great organization that uses the power of Harry Potter to do some fantastic activism.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

12 August 2016

Go For the Gold with Bondi Band's Rio 2016 Collection

Disclosure: I am writing this post as a Bondi Band Ambassador. All opinions are my own.

The 2016 Olympics are in full swing with countries from all over the world gathering in Rio to showcase their athletes. Last summer Olympics back in 2012, I had already started running but I was so new to the sport I didn't really pay any attention to the athletes doing their thing in London. This time, though, I'm looking forward to watching some of the track and field events now that I am more familiar with the sport and the names representing the United States.

Taking inspiration from the wide range of sports taking place in Brazil, Bondi Band has created a fantastic Rio 2016 Collection of headbands. There are BondiBands for swimming, cycling, even gymnastics!


Also, as seen above, they have country specific bands as well.

So be sure to check out their Rio 2016 Collection today and use coupon code Phoenix2016 to save 10% on your order!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

10 August 2016

my new normal

One week ago was my first full day back at the house after getting discharged from the hospital after spending five nights there due to a deep vein thrombosis in my left leg.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I am adapting to my new lifestyle. The changes are minor on the outside but increasingly significant as a whole. Back in May when I broke my ankle, I thought I had to deal with a lot of doctor's appointments but that's nothing compared to where I am now. Because of the blood thinner medication I'm on, I need to have my blood tested frequently make sure my INR levels are where they need to be. This means regular trips to the chronic care clinic. Thankfully it's about two minutes from my house and has some early morning hours so I can, for the most part, make it work with my job schedule.


On that end, because the INR levels aren't where they need to be yet I have two types of medicine I'm taking, one of which is administered via an syringe twice a day. Wake up, give myself a shot. Take a pill before dinner. Give myself another shot before bed. Rinse and repeat. 

I also have to be careful about the foods I eat. Vitamin K specifically since it's a natural coagulant and can counteract the blood thinners. I'm allowed to eat Vitamin K foods I just have to be consistent with them. Over the weekend I was thinking about this and realized that about a month ago I developed a taste for green smoothies with a spinach base. I had them on an almost daily basis in the week leading up to FitBloggin and they probably had a good 2-3 cups of spinach in them. 

Spinach is full of Vitamin K. This means spinach helps blood clot. This normally isn't a bad thing, it's actually a good thing. Unless, of course, you're dealing with a fractured ankle and two months of leg immobilization followed by a road trip. 

WELL DONE, SELF. 

I suspect that there were probably earlier signs that I had a clot that I missed because of my stupid high tolerance to pain. One does not just wake up and spontaneously have a blood clot in their leg that runs the entire length of their thigh, from groin to knee. Something had most likely been brewing there but I didn't notice until my leg was fucking purple from lack of circulation. 

At least I caught it in time and before it went to the scary, scary land of pulmonary embolism. (Though, one of the many doctor appointments I have is a follow-up with a PE doctor in a couple of weeks just to be sure. But over the weekend I walked from my house to the local art fair in downtown Lakewood and walked all around without any breathing issues. I'm pretty sure when the surgeon was doing his thing in my leg he put something in there to prevent anything from traveling up. I vaguely recall a pre-op conversation where he described a tiny umbrella type thing but I was so overwhelmed with information it's hard to say for sure).

One good bit of news though: NO MORE BOOT. At my last appointment two weeks ago, my bone doc gave me the go ahead to switch to the air cast on this date. YAY! I was supposed to make a follow-up appointment for around this time but, y'know, then I ended up in the hospital and my week is busy this week and he's gone next week so it's going to be another week and a half until I can see him but it's okay. If nothing else, the air cast gives me so much more mobility -- not even just with regards to walking but being able to move my leg around even while just sitting at my desk. 

I've started setting the alarm on my phone to go off every hour so I can get up and walk around the building: I have a desk job and I can get so into a project I shut the world out which leads me to sitting for long stretches at a time. Not good so add that to my growing list of "new normal." But, like a friend who has a history of blood clots told me, this at least is a good incentive to maintain an active lifestyle. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

05 August 2016

Eleven Lessons Learned From Hospital Life


1) Nurses are the back bone of the hospital. 
Holy shit, you guys. Look, all I know about hospitals I pretty much learned from Grey's Anatomy and, lemme tell ya, nurses do everything. It killed me that my ability to get discharged resided with the attending who saw me for maybe a grand total of 15 minutes the entire six days I was there and not the men and women who took amazing care of me on a daily basis. Especially the ones up in the ICU who bathed me, handled my catheter, bed pan, and all that really gross basic human living stuff we take for granted. (I mean, I get it: he has the advanced degree and education and sees the big picture of it all, but still.)

2) Surgery is a birthday suit situation. 
During my pre-op, the nurse was going through the checklist of things not allowed, like anything with metal which meant my bra. Because I was hooked up to the IV and my bra wasn't the kind where you can unhook straps, they had to actually cut it off of me. (Most of this was stuff that should have been taken care of by the ER but everything happened so fast I think there were some ships passing in the night situations.) But it also turns out contacts aren't allowed either. They didn't have contact containers ('cause, hi, why would they) so my contacts spent the week hanging out in ... wait for it .... urine sample cups.

3) I lost all modesty.
When you have a complete stranger giving you a sponge bath, modesty is for the birds. When they took me in for surgery the second day to check their progress, the surgical nurse was trying to delicately cover up my vajayjay area and I told her to not worry about it. Like, at all. Pretty sure the entire surgical staff saw my bush but whatever.

4) My high tolerance for pain may be my undoing.
I know I mentioned this a bit in my last post, but seriously, yo. My leg had very little circulation, to the point that it was blue and purple, and my description of it was "uncomfortable." When you think about it, this is not really a good thing. Pain is there for a reason. Pain lets you know that something is wrong. It seemed like this came on really sudden, but for all I know there had been some level of pain going on in the immediate return from FitBloggin but because of my high tolerance I didn't notice it. So this is something I'm going to have to keep a careful eye on.

5) At this point I'm sure I can sleep through anything.
I was in ICU from Thursday night until Sunday afternoon. During that time I was hooked up to several machines, including a blood pressure monitor which took my bp automatically every hour on the hour. I was also getting blood drawn every 4 hours or so, including in the middle of the night. Slept through many of those late night / early morning arm squeezes and by Monday and Tuesday, when the blood draws became less frequent but still just as early, I was pretty much sleeping through those, too.

6) Needles schmeedles.
I used to be one of those weirdos who was all "I have tattoos but I hate needles." Bitch, please. After all this and especially now that I'm self-injecting syringes into my belly, needles are so whatever.

7) I have never said my name and birth date so often.
Every time a nurse or phlebotomy technician or doctor or anyone came in to do anything, they'd ask me my full name and birth date. Hell, even the food service workers when they brought my meals. Speaking of ...

8) I didn't overthink my food choices the whole time I was there.
I come from a long, long history of way overthinking food. It's why I decided to ditch dieting a month ago. While in the hospital I didn't overthink my food choices at all. I ordered what I wanted when I wanted, including dessert. That said, depression and hospitals don't mix well: By the time I was allowed to eat (due to surgery schedule) I had gone 40 hours without food but even when they gave me the go ahead I didn't have an appetite. Like, at all. My parents visited almost every day and one one of those days she said "Make sure you eat dinner." When she called the next day and asked if I ate the night before I said "Um, I had one of those granola bars you brought me."

9) Hospital food doesn't have to suck
Maybe I just got lucky being at the Cleveland Clinic (recently named #2 in the nation!) but the food was not too bad. They have it set up like room service with a menu you can order from and -- best part -- ALL DAY BREAKFAST. The pancakes were top notch.

10) Snoopy is still a girl's best friend
After I was admitted to the ER, my bestest most awesomest boyfriend ever BC got off work early and stopped at home to pick up some things I requested. One of those was my childhood stuffed animal, Snoopy.


My original Snoopy was given to me at birth but he was lost at Disney World when I was, like, 8. My grandparents bought me this one as a replacement (8 year old Jill was a little miffed at the idea that Snoopy was replaceable but she adapted). He's been to college, my first apartment, and now sleeps on the guest bed in my office here at the house. This dog never left my side in the hospital and I had several of the nurses and doctor's comment on him, saying they would have requested the same thing. He has some battle scars -- mostly small patches of dried blood from when my main IV got loose and, hi, blood thinners so that was fun -- but it's good to know that 25+ years later that stuffed animal from childhood can still get the job done.

11) There's no place like home
I will happily give myself twice daily shots in my belly if it means I get to sleep in my own bed every night and get woken up by the cats instead of the lab.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

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