This is probably the longest personal journal I've ever written. I certainly don't expect everyone (or anyone) to read it, but I felt like getting it all on "paper" as it seems like the type of "adventure" I'll look back on when I'm old and gray.Dodgeball
in Southern California is kind of a big deal. That same game you played in elementary school with red rubber balls has been updated and modified for adults. The Los Angeles area alone is home to over ten dodgeball leagues, featuring play that ranges from "soft core" (for beginners) to "hard core" (for serious-types).
I've been playing dodgeball for about three years now, but have only just recently started to get really into it -- so much so that last weekend I flew to Chicago to play in the Elite Women's Midwest Dodgeball Tournament. About halfway in to our five hours of dodgeball, I looked down at the pinky finger on my left hand and thought, "That's kind of swollen... and crooked." I, of course, played on. At the end of the day my finger definitely hurt, but I wasn't in a terrible amount of pain. Nevertheless, I made a doctor appointment for the first full day I'd be back in California -- five days later.
I landed in Los Angeles on Wednesday night and after going through my normal travel ritual of unpacking, washing clothes, and showering, I noticed that my left ankle was swollen. I didn't think much of it until a short five minutes later when I looked at it under better light and thought, "Wow, that's really
swollen. It's weird that I don't remember tweaking it or knocking it on anything. And that it has no bruising."
Being a frequent flyer, I'm aware of the slim possibility of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT
), a potentially life-threatening disorder in which blood clots form in the deep veins of the body, particularly the legs. Even though my flights were relatively short and I'm in fairly good shape, that didn't stop me from WebMD'ing symptoms and Skyping Toby (`Ayame-Kenoshi
) with my self-diagnosis.
[4/25/2013 12:48:11 AM] Heidi: Lauren ($LaurenKitsune
) is offline. Chris ($chris
) is ignoring me. I feel the need to tell someone that I'm being a hypochondriac, so that just in case I am right... there's evidence.
[4/25/2013 12:48:32 AM] Toby (ayame-kenoshi): That's what I'm here for.
[4/25/2013 12:48:59 AM] Heidi: I'm convinced that I have www.mayoclinic.com/health/deep…
and that I'll have a pulmonary embolism and die.
With my ankle continuing to swell, I ended up falling asleep around 4:30 AM. Luckily, I already had a doctor appointment in the morning -- for my swollen, crooked finger.
Upon check-in, the nurse asked what I was being seen for. I said, "I'm falling apart." By 9:30 AM my ankle was the size of a baseball and my knee had expanded like a puffer fish. After examining my ankle and knee, and adding that my calf was also swollen, my doctor said, "Do you know what I'm thinking?"
"You might have a blood clot. I need you to go to the hospital. You don't have to go right now, but you do have to go in the next two hours."
This was my face...
She next got into specifics about what I should expect and the tests that would be performed. As she was ushering me out the door, I said, "Oh, wait! My finger. That's why I originally scheduled an appointment."
"You can take x-rays at the hospital."
Oh, good. Two birds with one stone.
Not surprisingly, hospitals treat possible blood clots with a sense of urgency. Being labeled as someone who might have a blood clot is like flying first class -- straight to the front of the line for you! Need a blood test? Yours is marked as 'stat.' Need an ultrasound? They'll send a personal escort who will wait for you while you're still in the lab giving blood.
The first thing I did at the hospital was give blood for a D-dimer
test that would check if I had markers for a blood clot. The lab technician said it would take an hour to get the test results back and that they'd call my name when ready. (Hospital workers give you a lot of "sad eyes" and sympathetic glances when blood clots are mentioned. Also likely because my left leg had swollen to be one-third larger than my right leg.)
With an hour to kill, I had the perfect opportunity to get my pinky x-rayed. Even though my pinky issue was minor in comparison to a blood clot, I again got to skip to the front of the line.
With my x-rays done, I was only in the waiting room for a few minutes before a lab technician walked over to me holding a piece of paper. "This isn't great," I thought. "It hasn't even been an hour and I'm being hand-delivered my results." True enough, my blood test was positive.
Despite what I'd told Toby the night before, I was honestly never worried about a pulmonary embolism. I was, however, feeling sorry for myself because I'd have to take blood thinners for the next six to nine months -- which meant I couldn't play contact sports. These were the thoughts running through my head as I was undergoing an ultrasound that was trying to locate the blood clot.
After a fifteen minute ultrasound, I received the first good news I'd heard all day -- I didn't
have a blood clot! While the blood test was indeed positive, it's just one indicator used to identify the probability of a blood clot. The ultrasound confirmed no signs of deep vein thrombosis, but it did
confirm a large cyst in my knee. A cyst that had likely ruptured and/or was impeding the flow of blood in my leg.
news! I was discharged with instructions to rest, ice, and elevate, and when the swelling subsides we'll closer examine what caused the cyst in the first place. But before I could get too far, as I was walking to my car, I got a phone call from my doctor. "Heidi, are you still at the hospital?"
"Okay, good! Don't leave. I've examined your x-rays and you fractured your pinky."
Womp, womp. The end!