For my own sanity and because I desire that everyone gets a full version of the events which have taken place these last two weeks, I have chosen to create an orderly account of my ten night vacation to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. My thanks go out to all of you who so wonderfully supported me during my stay there, brought me gifts, called me, texted me, and made me know I was loved this Christmas. I truly am blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. Now, for the information.......
A little backstory:
Aug 6, 2006 - My Uncle Alex dies of a blood clot in his leg after a colon surgery. Afterwards, there was mandatory blood testing of all who have the blood type, 'Stuvland.'
Dec 29ish, 2006 - I find out, after getting blood work, that I am what is referred to as 'Laden Factor five,' which simply means that I am at a slightly higher risk of developing a blood clot than the normal population. Brother, sister, dad, all have same 'condition.'
August 28th, 2007 - Upon arriving back from his honeymoon, my dad, 52, finds a blood clot in his leg after a long flight back from Italy. He was supposed to move around and walk around, but his first class chair was too reclined and comfortable for him to really care that much.
December 17, 19, 2007 - I did two long drives to and from San Jose to Santa Barbara, CA. Rental car is uncomfortable for me, I make sure to stretch a lot, etc...
December 19, 2007 - Upon returning to Santa Barbara, CA, I notice that my right arm is more full of blood than my left arm and it is a slightly darker color, kind of reddish. I am worried as I think to myself that it could be a circulatory system problem, which triggers the history of blood clots in the family, and immediately I take two aspirin, wait till morning to get checked out in case it is a fluke thing.
Dec 20, 2007 - After a day long of explaining, an ultrasound test reveals some blocked blood flow in my subclavian vein (below the clavical (collarbone) ). Urgent care in SB admits me to Cottage Hospital for an overnight stay and potential procedure in the morning. My dad flies down from Portland to LAX, catches a taxi from LA to SB and arrives in the hospital room less than 16 hours after he has heard the news. (The image to the right, I found on the internet and is a picture of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) aka 'blood clot' of somebody's subclavian vein.)
Dec 21, 2007 - First procedure done in the morning puts a catheter running from my bicep vein on my left side through my shoulder and into my chest, dripping blood thinners on the clotted area. Plans of driving back to San Jose to visit special friend is shattered. Going home to Portland for Christmas is up in the air. About 6 different drips are being pumped into my chest, including a few blood thinners, and ultrasound, and coolant.
Dec 22, 2007 - Second procedure done in the late morning, including trying to suck up the blood clot with a vacuum-like process and trying to re-inflate my subclavian vein, which had been compressed and blood flow was minimal. I was moderately sedated, meaning that I was still awake, but had enough narcotics in me to make me not feel anything and for time to pass very quickly. In fact, they gave me too many narcotics, and I got back to my room in the Critical Care Unit (CCU), felt nautious, waited for Janelle to arrive from San Jose and then threw up (nothing), for I had nothing to eat since 12 midnight the night before. I was able to eat a bit later after I felt better. I was still heavily doped up on pain medication, the morphine made me either really sharp and engaged or completely out of it and asleep, with little middle ground.
Dec 23, 2007 - Third procedure involving the removal of the catheter from my arm and more picture taking of the reduced blood flow. Doctors are able to deduct that it is no random blood clot, but rather, a condition called 'Thoracic Outlet Syndrome' (first rib and collarbone pinch together the subclavian vein) and determine that surgery will be necessary to remove my first rib in order to relieve the pressure from the vein. Plans of going home to Portland for Christmas are shattered, I'm going to have to remain in the hospital for the holidays. Luckily, my dad was there and was able to create a Christmas sort of feel in my room. Janelle and my dad took turns feeding me Sat/Sun. when I had minimal use of both my arms.
Dec 24, 2007 - Day of rest in the hospital
Dec 25, 2007 - Day of rest in the hospital
Dec 26, 2007 - Rib Rissection surgery, removing the first rib from my rib cage completely. Surgery was in the afternoon, they laid me on my left side, made a long, horizontal incision underneath my armpit and removed the rib. They also put a drainage tube to collect leftover blood and such dangling from out of my armpit as well. It took me a long time to come out of the General Anesthesia and wake up. More rest to be had in the evening. But not great sleep, for in case you didn't know, hospitals are not a good place to get a solid 8 hours of sleep. In fact, they are the worst places to sleep with nurses coming in every 4 hours to check vitals and every 6 hours to take blood. I shouldn't be complaining, for God has given me great health.. (The image to the right shows the process of what Thoracic Outlet Syndrome does to the vein and what the removal is supposed to help with )...
Dec 27, 2007 - Day of rest in the hospital (Thursday)
Dec 28, 2007 - Last three-hour procedure. Catheter goes back in my arm, through the same vein, and the doctors are finally able to suck out the blood clot and perform an angioplasty (balooning) of my vein to make it easier for the blood to get through. This day, I find out that I will need to be injecting a blood thinner called 'Lovenox' into my abdomen for the next five days, twice a day, 6AM, 6PM. I initially tell my dad that I would rather die than give myself a shot, but he convinces me that in order for my blood to be thinned, and to protect against another clot, I need to do this. I have to talk myself up for about 10 minutes before I am able to pierce my own abdomen.
Dec 29, 2007 (Saturday) - Day of rest in the hospital, cabin fever set in a long time ago, and I anxiously await my release on Sunday.
Dec 30, 2007 - Released from the hospital after 10 nights, 4 procedures and 1 surgery. I know that I like to be dramatic and add juice to the story, but it really wasn't too bad. There were times of intense pain (usually taken care of by morphine within a few minutes), bad news (not being able to go to SJ, Portland, Seattle), but I have to fall on my knees and praise God that my arm is not still swollen, that my surgery went successfully and my procedures accomplished the task of dismembering the blood clot. So, it was and will be worth every minute of the pain.
Thanks to the St. Andrews Presbyterian Prayer team, who visited me almost daily, to the Riva di Nera (sp?) family for taking me in to their house after my hospital stay, to Anna and Kiah Jordan, who allowed me to sleep in their bed after my hospital stay so I could be close to the Riva's, to Janelle, who fed me, watched me throw up, rubbed my feet when I was going to sleep, held my hand when I couldn't hold hers, to my extended family in Oregon on my mom's side, who nourished me with a constant flow of text messages and phone calls, including one on Christmas Eve that enabled me to talk with the whole family, to my friends in Santa Barbara who came and visited me, to my students I work with at Youth Group who called and came to visit, to the parents of those students, who came to visit me and cooked me dinner when I got out, to my friends in Portland who prayed for me to pull through, to my roomate Joe, who came to visit almost every day and always brought special treats and television shows and candy, to my dad, who pushed my IV carts when i needed exercise around the floor, who fed me when I couldn't reach my mouth, who gave me presents for Christmas when I had nothing to give him back, who tied my hospital gown every time I got up to go for a walk, who helped me sit up, lay down, lift books, mail letters, make phone calls and updates to loved ones, stayed by my side, laughed, and cried with and for me. You have no idea how much I felt loved.
And finally, to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, Immanuel, God with us, of whose birth we celebrated on Christmas Day, for never leaving nor forsaking me for even ONE MOMENT in the hospital. From the day I entered until the day I left, His Holy Spirit was with me, much to the request of many prayers from all over the West Coast, and showed up as the Healer many, many times, through the doctors, through people, and I am deeply grateful for the gift of a Savior and friend today. Thanks be to God for His wonderful, wonderful, blessings that we are aware of and not aware of.
Ride on, King Jesus. No person can hinder thee, no person can hide from thee.
Truly, you are the great 'I AM'.
Peace be within your being,