Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My Turn (But Where's Dr. House?)

It seems as though an awful lot of online friends and acquaintances have had health issues recently, either their own medical problems or those of close relatives.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about my brother Steve's health problems. Today it was my turn.

Basically it's all about my left leg, although the right one isn't all that much better. The left is terribly swollen, to the point of significant pain. (The right is slightly less swollen, and doesn't actually hurt.) I think it started weeks ago, but it didn't get really bad until after I fell last week. Since then it's been a little worse each day.

As you look at the awful picture here, bear in mind that this is not the ankle I twisted the other day. Please also notice the visible knot/bulge in my lower leg. That's all fluid.

John will hate that I posted this photo. Not very flattering, is it? But it should start to look better soon. The leg and foot I mean. Not the photo.

Okay, ready for the long story of my day today? Here goes. All times are approximate:

8:15 AM. Arrive a little late at work, because I had a hard time getting up this morning. I'm working on something I should have finished yesterday when one of the outside auditors arrives at my cubicle, politely requesting a list of items for testing, and other stuff.

10:20 AM. I give the auditor part of what she wanted and walk to Dr. L.'s office, three parking lots away.

10:45 AM. The blood pressure cuff hurts, a lot, and it takes the nurse two tries to use it unsuccessfully. Blood pressure is 147 over 88 - probably the highest ever recorded for me, but only mildly hypertensive overall. Dr. L. takes one look at my legs, especially the extra-swollen, painful, bruised, visibly bulging left one, and springs into action! Metaphorically speaking, of course. She both says and writes down the words "severe edema," orders an EKG, blood work, and a Doppler ultrasound of my left leg to check for a clot. She also prescribes a diuretic that the pharmacist later refers to as blood pressure medicine. "There are diuretics so strong they can get water from a stone," Dr. L. says. "This isn't one of those."

I explain about Steve, and the seeming parallels between his condition and mine. She totally takes it seriously, including the possibility of sleep apnea. Steve has that for sure, and I snore. John says it's been getting worse. He hasn't caught me not breathing, though. There may be a sleep study in my future.

I think about whether Dr. House would find my case at all interesting. Probably not, I decide. Dr. L. seems to be managing fine on her own. But there's no word on causes yet. There's also no lecture about losing weight. She knows that I know that already.

11:10 AM. Nurse runs the EKG twice, because there's a problem with one of the diodes (or whatever they are these days).

11:20 AM. Dr. L. sees one little dip in the top line of the second EKG. She decides that because of the edema and Steve, she's not going to assume it's nothing. She asks me whether I'm willing to schedule a stress test. I agree. (Stress? My life lately is all about stress!)

11:30-11:45 AM. Dr. L's nurse tries in vain to get blood out of me.

11:45 AM-12 Noon. Dr. L. tries in vain to get blood out of me, and then writes orders for blood work elsewhere. And, at my request, a mammogram. I've overdue.

12:05 PM. I walk back to the office, check in with my boss, walk back downstairs and across the street to my car, and drive to Sonora Quest labs. The nurse eventually gets blood from the arm the Red Cross doesn't normally use.

12:40 PM. Quarter dark with veggies at Boston Market.

1:10 PM. I arrive back at work. Email stuff to the auditor. She finds it helpful. Still can't lay my hands on some of what she wants. My boss's boss wants a report, just as I'm about to leave to the imaging lab. The software doesn't cooperate. I leave anyway.

3:15 PM. Arrive at the lab, do the paperwork.

3:30 PM. Spend 20 minutes lying in the dark while a nice man puts goo on my leg and pokes me with the whatever-it's-called, sometimes painfully. By this time the leg is really hurting anyway.

4:10 PM. Back at work, I finish my boss's report, research a couple of items for HR, and fail to get anything else done.

4:50 PM. Dr. L's nurse calls. No clot.

5:15 PM. Still haven't completed a single task at work. I leave anyway.

5:40-6:30 PM. I hang around Walgreen's, waiting for my triamterene and canalog cream. When I finally get it, I call John. He wants Subway for dinner.

6:45 PM. I'm at Subway.

7:00 PM. I eat in front of a Third Rock ep on DVD. John says that Dr. House "would have found a blood clot anyway."

"Yeah. In my brain," I say.

7:15 PM. My dad returns my call from earlier in the day. That's when I realize I missed his birthday yesterday. He gives me further info about Steve, and expresses concern about my health in a typical Dad way - with a mild lecture about taking care of myself.

I've taken the medication, plus some ibuprofen, hours ago. I'm still waiting for relief from the leg pain. Well, it may be a little better.


I know this isn't that big a deal - at least, I assume not. I fully expect the stress test to show my heart is fine. But if I hear the words "wake-up call" one more time, I'm going to scream!



Chris said...

So, what DO they think is wrong with your leg? I had a stress last week that I have been putting off for about six months after complaints of chest pain. Well, I finally did it. I seriously don't know why I was so freaked by it that I kept putting it off. I'm glad I did it, though. And my heart's fine. And how IS your brother?

julie said...

When I had the crud this time last year I had a dream that I was in the waiting room of the PPTH clinic. House walked by and stopped at my chair. He looked at me with those gorgeous blue eyes and said "you have a cold. Deal with it." Then he moved on.

I suspect he would have at least seen you in the clinic and poked around on the ankle before ordering the same tests your doc did.

Seriously, I hope it all goes well for you.

Becky said...

I swear you are living my life in some parallel dimension. LOL Tyler saw the photo of your leg and said "Hey Mommy! That's your leg!" Uh COULD be. Both my legs are swollen like that at the moment. I had the stress test and ultrasound of both legs last year. Doc offered a diuretic but made it sound like he didn't expect it to help much so I declined. My blood pressure is fine, so far. Lucky me. I have a referral for my sleep study. I just haven't scheduled it yet. If you tell me you have suspicious moles or a lump under your arm I'll just faint! LOL I also have to schedule a visit to the dermatologist to get my skin checked out. (Fair skinned and moley. Bleh.) Oh and my doc doesn't lecture me about my weight either. He said "You know the drill." Yep. I do.

Georganna Hancock said...

Hope you're doing better already, already!

Would a few "poor babies" help? If so, take as needed: poor Baby!

Globetrotter said...

Oh Karen. This was a very worrisome entry. I'm really concerned about you and I think you are not taking this seriously enough.

Please try to get some rest, avoid the stress and take better care of yourself.

That leg does not look good to me at all, but I am very relieved to know that there is no clot because it's the first thing that I thought of.


Anonymous said...

Hope your leg is feeling better soon. How is Steve? Take care of yourself.

bea said...

So glad you went to the doctor. I don't think we intentionally neglect our health. I think we get caught up in our work and our life, and we keep saying we're going to get a physical, and get a mammogram done, and scheduling an appointment seems like just a phone call away. In the course of a weekday, it's difficult for me to get to a phone and make that call, and when I finally do, I get chastised for taking so long. My BP is up a bit too; my doctor told me take fish oil twice a day (gel tab form) and walk after work. Yeah, I'm energized after work, c'mon! Give me another plan! I hope the swelling goes down and the pain disappears in your legs. Good luck with the stress test! Bea