Monday, June 10, 2013

Me, My Lungs, and I

I'm sure someone out there noticed I went from a Bike Month posting frenzy to total radio silence in like, a day.  I have a good reason for that!

So remember my pulled rib cage?  Well, the pain in my ribs had mostly stopped, but the shortness of breath remained.  Actually, it seemed to be getting worse rather than better, to such an extent that I nearly passed out on while biking home last Saturday morning.  After another incident with near-involuntary-unconsciousness, off to the doctor I went to see what the hell was up with me.

I went to my doctor and described my symptoms, and his reaction was....not promising.  He sent me to have a CT Scan done, and my alarm-level rose when they wouldn't let me leave.  Several hours of exams, poking, and prodding later my results came back.  I had a very bad pulmonary embolism.  That means blood clots in my lungs, a condition with a fairly high fatality rate.  But not just one.  Shitloads, in both lungs.  So, I got to experience a lot of firsts this past week.  First ambulance ride.  First overnight hospital stay.  First time in a long time feeling like my body betrayed me.

Cycling and other physical activities (hiking, running around with my dogs, weight lifting, swimming) form a huge part of my identity - I don't just bike a lot, I'm a cyclist. A hiker. After suffering a very severe knee injury early in life I've made a point to never let myself be trapped in my own body again.  So to suddenly be told that I had a life threatening cardiac problem was shocking and very upsetting.  Staring in the face of your own mortality is a hard thing, it turns out. But thanks to some awesome care providers and a lot of blood tests I'm still here and on the mend, though the recovery period is going to be really, really long.

So I'm back.  I'm out of the hospital and on medication.  But I still get weak and woozy from too much activity and I'm going to have to build back up very slowly.  Any major falls have a pretty serious risk of internal bleeding, so I have to be careful.  "Careful" isn't exactly my normal way of doing things, so this requires totally retooling my life for the next several months.  I might even have to break down and buy a helmet.

Overall it pretty much sucks, but on the bright side, I'm still alive!  I'm here to rebuild things and go back to normal.  I just have to take it slow and not stress myself out about what I can do or for how long.  But it's good to be back.

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