COLUMN: Hip, hip…blood clots?


Pulmonary embolism. That sounds pretty scary, right?

More so than the term “blood clot.”

Except a pulmonary embolism is a blood clot to the lung. Guess what? I’ve got multiple, and both lungs are impacted.

As smoothly as my first hip surgery went eight years ago, it appears my road to recovery this time around is akin to sitting on the back of a bus whose driver seems hell bent on hitting every speed bump and pothole.

The driver? Fate.

I’m eight years older, closer to 60 than I am to 50. I’m heavier and in worse shape, big contributors to the potential for complications following surgery.

As strange as my trip down recovery road has been, given the potholes, things are even stranger. More on that in a bit.

So, I headed back to ambulatory care recently for a follow up with Doc Turnbull. It was over my continuing problem with the wound bleeding every time the bandage was replaced. It was not an ooze, but a literal dripping of blood.

I mentioned I had some chest pain recently, and that earned a trip to the emergency department. They were worried about it possibly being a clot.

I was again languishing in the waiting room, in some discomfort in one of their wheeled chairs, and the incredible Barry who works in the department, helped speed things along. In no time, they had found me a stretcher in the department. Suddenly, I was off to diagnostic imaging for an X-ray, and a CT scan soon thereafter (my first). Don’t fear that machine, as the scan is over before you know it.

As soon as they found I had clots in both lungs, they found a bed for me in progressive care. In the meantime, I received some heavy blood thinners via IV.

Three days in the PCU with some incredible nurses, Dr. Sarah Finlay and nurse practitioner Shelly Stroud, I was able to go home.

A shout out to student nurse Sam, a local woman in her mid-20s in her third year of schooling – Sam was amazing support my first day there.

And it was great seeing a familiar face in Carly, someone I’ve known for at least 15 years, if not longer. Instead of taking care of my beverage needs, this amazing woman took care of me in hospital.

So, here’s the weird part of all this…as soon as I went on blood thinners, the bleeding from my incision stopped. We all feared it would do just the opposite.

Instead, nurse Stephanie pulled out all 33 staples and put butterfly strips across the incision where I had leaked before. There’s just a light dressing on it.

So far, so good.

I can honestly say the experience has led me to rethink my hip surgery. I should not have put it off for as long as I did. Had this been done in 2019, I have a feeling the chances of complication would have been greatly reduced.
I am a stubborn middle-aged man.


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