Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My last hospitalization

I usually go in the hospital twice a year for what people in the CF world call a "tune-up". This usually just consists of 10-14 days on IV antibiotics, chestPT (I often just call my treatments) three times a day by physical therapists, and REST. I can no longer get peripheral IV's - the normal IV's that last a few days that one normally gets in the hospital. I have to get PICC lines which are specialized catheters to deliver my medicine and they can stay in for a few weeks to a few months. It goes in through my upper arm and goes into my right atrium to deliver medication. This particular time, I developed a DVT (deep vein thrombosis/blood clot) in my vein. DVT's are particulary dangerous because they can dislodge and travel to vital organs (lungs among others) and cause life threatening complications. I cannot begin to explain to you what my arm looked and felt like. Everyday I noticed that my arm was swelling a little. After a few days of thinking it was nothing, after I got out of the shower one day I looked at my arm and realized it was a bluish color. I informed the nurses right away and even though it was New Years Eve, I was down having a CT-scan just a few hours later. The CT-scan confirmed that I did in fact have a DVT and it was pretty extensive. They started me on heparin (a blood thinner) to prevent anymore clots from forming. They obviously also took out the PICC line. I have been getting PICC lines for so many years that I guess I gave me veins a break and they were able to get regular IV's into my arm (one for the heparin and one for the antibiotics). Once they were sure it was a DVT a team of doctors came to see me, including my CF doctor, the vascular team and the hematologist. Since this happened in my right arm and I am a righty I opted to go for a procedure that would get rid of the blood clots. I could just be on medicine, however the meds don't necessarily make the clots that are already there dissolve, they just help from preventing more. Everytime I used my arm, even to do simple things like brush my teeth or hair my arm began to hurt and turn colors. I had a procedure that they did in the OR, they inserted a catheter into my groin and scraped out the clots, they then inserted a catheter into my arm to continously deliver thromobolytic (clot dissolving) medicine over the next 24 hours. There is a risk of bleeding, so they kept me in the surgical ICU for 24 hours while the catheter was in place. I am now on Lovenox, a daily injection that I have to give myself for three months just as precaution. My arm actually still hurts a little when I am using it a lot, but it is 99% better.

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