BC ⚡ AC

The shortness of breath, SOB for short in the medical world, started the week of Thanksgiving. Steve’s had SOB before, several episodes over the last five or so years. A quick-paced walk or a steep flight of stairs and he’s huffing and puffing. Doctors have tried, but can’t figure out what’s causing it. Cardiac issue? Allergies? Asthma? COPD? Nope, nothing definitive. Strange and frustrating, yet the episodes always resolve after a few weeks so we aren’t too concerned. Still, we are home for the holidays so Steve calls to make an appointment with his doctor.

We arrive a few minutes early for his 9 AM appointment, expecting the visit to go quickly. We need to get back to Wake Forest. Steve has more drywall to hang and I have chili to make for the granddaughter’s first birthday party. Imagine our surprise when a blood pressure of 130/110 prompts his doctor to order a STAT CT of the chest to rule out a pulmonary embolism (think: do this test really quick because this guy might have a blood clot in his lung and there’s a 90% chance that he drops dead right here in front of us). I think the doctor is being overly cautious. I mean, really. This husband of mine hung drywall yesterday and drove here this morning from Wake Forest. He feels fine. He just gets short of breath. He’s had this before.

Fast forward to 3 PM. Steve is admitted to the hospital with a 5.4 x 2.6 cm. pulmonary embolism (think: huge-honking big, about the size of a man’s thumb). He is started on IV heparin which is supposed to keep other clots from forming while his body works to break up the huge-honking big one in his lung. The doctors assure us that his prognosis is good. He’ll be in the hospital for 2 – 3 days and will have to be on blood thinners for 6 months. They tell us it’s going to take 6 – 8 weeks for the clot to dissolve and that he will have SOB until it does, but we can expect a full recovery. We resolve ourselves to the facts that there will be no drywall hung and no chili made today. We’re going to miss the first birthday party but the middle daughter is going to FaceTime us when the granddaughter eats her cake so, at least, we’ll get to see that.

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Whaddaya mean G-Mommy and Pompey can’t come to my first birthday party?

 

We settle in. We’ve gotten good at biding time…until another doctor comes in.

The blood clot is not the only thing found on the CT scan. There’s a 1 cm. nodule of “uncertain chronicity” (meaning: they have no idea how long it’s been there) in the back of his right lung and since blood clots can be caused by a malignancy, a PET scan is ordered to rule out cancer. It will be after Christmas before we can get that done. The doctors tell us that they expect the PET scan to be negative; that it needs to be done for “completion”. That’s certainly encouraging but waiting a week to get the scan done and then waiting another week to get the results can be a little taxing in the best of circumstances. It’s particularly taxing when you live on a boat and your boat is on a mooring ball 500 miles away in St. Augustine and you see this on Facebook.

We get great news at Steve’s follow up appointment on Monday, January 4. The nodule is scar tissue, probably from a long-ago bout with pneumonia. We can go back to boat as long as Steve promises:

  1. To get his blood drawn once a month to monitor how well the blood thinner is working.
  2. To not engage in activities that put him at risk of injuries or falls that might cause bleeding.

Pinky promises made, we’re getting FNR the heck out of the St. Augustine mooring field and heading down to Marineland Marina just south of St. Augustine. There, we’ll get FNR ready to travel to Stuart, FL for a month or two stay.

Once in Stuart, our focus will shift from a BC (Before Clot) lifestyle to an AC (After Clot) lifestyle.

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BC: We relied on alternate forms of transportation (bicycles, buses, Ubers, trolleys) to get to places that are too far to walk to. This works well if you don’t have to have your blood drawn once a month.

AC: We will have a vehicle with us going forward. We’ll leave our truck in St. Augustine and once we get settled in Stuart, we’ll rent a car and go pick it up. We’ll repeat that process as we head further south.

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BC: All the rain we’ve had and the long days spent traveling limited the amount we exercised. Sitting in the cabin or at the helm all day restricts blow flow, which contributes to the formation of clots.

AC: We will have transportation so we’re joining a gym meaning we can and will exercise when it rains. Also, the First Mate will be taking the helm more often so the Captain can get up and move around every hour or so.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BC: We know how to eat healthy, but eating unhealthy is easier and tastes Oh. So. Good.

AC: Eating unhealthy results in excess weight and excess weight increases the risk of blood clots. Therefore, we are going to lose a few pounds by replacing our unhealthier eating habits with healthier ones.

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BC: We tackled many a boat project without even thinking about excessive bleeding caused by an injury or fall.

AC: Steve will NOT be going up the mast anytime soon. Steve will NOT use a utility knife to sharpen a pencil or cut the foil off a wine bottle. Steve WILL buy a pair of those cut-resistant gloves and he WILL wear them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BC: We traveled long and hard, hell-bent on finding warm, happy and dry.

AC: Steve’s SOB was life threatening, and we didn’t pay it much attention. Maybe we were too focused on finding warm, happy and dry. We fell off the present moment wagon big time. We can’t change that and there’s no sense in resolving to not fall off again because we will. All we can do is get back on that wagon and enjoy the ride, one moment at a time.

19 thoughts on “BC ⚡ AC

  1. Pingback: And We Thought Blood Clots Sucked | Zen on a Boat

  2. Pingback: Weather Always Wins | Zen on a Boat

    • Deb: Good to hear from you and thanks for the offer of help. We didn’t get a chance to touch base with SV Via Bella. We’re on our way to Stuart. Plan to arrive on the 18th. Maybe, just maybe our paths will cross eventually….
      Namasté,
      Marci

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  3. Wow – so glad all is well now and you and Steve on back on the “road” again.

    10 days and counting – why do we accumulate so much stuff?? Less is definitely more!

    Take care and enjoy that FLA sunshine. Ella

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ella: Sorry we weren’t able to get together over the holidays. An unplanned hospital stay sure throws a kink in your plans!

      This morning in Marineland (just south of St. Augustine) it’s sunny but 39°. BRRRRR!!!

      Keep purging. You won’t miss a thing!!

      Marci

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  4. Wow! Glad everything is okay now. You know Amy works in St Augustine now at The St Augustine Alligator Farm & Zoo. She lives just south of Jacksonville. If you all needed a ride anywhere you could give her a call. Take care of that Captain of yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leslie: Thanks for the comment! We are on our way to Stuart so we are going to miss seeing Amy this time through. Maybe in the spring when we’re heading back north? Hope all is well you with and that you’re adjusting/enjoying to the empty nest.

      Namasté,
      Marci

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  5. Marci,
    Should you like some additional information about being AC, give me a call or email. I’ve been AC for eight years and the rest of my life on blood thinners. I will be glad to share info about meds,moving and diet. Take care Breth

    Liked by 1 person

    • Breth: Good to hear from you and thanks for sharing! I actually had a blood clot about 16 years ago. That probably actually made this whole experience even scarier. Right now, we are taking it one day at a time and are seeing slow, but steady improvement.

      Namasté,
      Marci

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  6. I am so glad Steve is okay. I work with this condition on a daily basis. You are very fortunate to have caught it early and treated aggressively. Your “A/C” plans are wonderful. So many times I experience patients that go right back to their “B/C” routine, ending in a life changing event or a life ending event. You two have the bull by the horns. It is refreshing to read your goals and your attitude is exceptional. I will continue to keep Steve and family in my thoughts and prayers. John Cooper

    Liked by 1 person

    • John, thanks for the kind words. I do feel lucky that it has turned out as good as it has. Sometimes I am not sure if we have the bull by the horns or if we are just hanging on for the ride. I enjoy your post on Facebook and it looks like you are doing well.
      Steve

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      • Just got a new hip this past Tuesday. Taken precautions myself to avoid DVT or PE. Keep up the good work you two. I will be down in Edenton around April for a bike ride. Maybe we can hook up. JC

        Liked by 1 person

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