Monthly Archives: August 2012

Life, as we know it, is not over!

It is my opinion, and only my opinion, that we as a human species are social animals UNTIL we hit a snag in life.  When a major experience inserts itself then we feel we are no longer part of a large group.  We become a singular entity that is totally alone and no one else has ever gone through what we are going through.

Nothing is farther from the truth.  Our social world branches off into a different growth pattern then settles back into the comfortable one we are used to, which now includes other people who have similar experiences to ours.

Anyone that does, at least, one hour of television viewing has seen the legal advertisements warning of the dire consequences of the drug Coumadin (Warfarin) and the deaths it has caused.  Kind of scary when you listen to the advertisement and the claims made by a spokesperson for the legal firm.

Having remnants of the torte ad in my head and the possible things that could go wrong with my Joe while he is on this drug made me quite anxious for him.  If the drug is so bad that people are bleeding to death and dropping like flies then why is this still being prescribed by physicians?!

Acceptance of Joe’s medical procedures and prescriptions had to come.  I had to embrace this fear and do the best that I could to make sure my husband is watched over and cared for properly.  That was the first hurdle to get over.  The next was to find information about his diet that I would need to know in order to aid him in his recovery and eventually getting off Coumadin (Warfarin).

This past week I have begun to feel like I am in the middle of a Wes Craven horror movie with no way out.  Who would have ever known that fruits and vegetables could be so harmful to a human body?  All of the fitness Internet sites you go to scream at you to eat more vegetables and fruit daily.  Get meat out of our diet and more natural foods in.

The Vitamin K in a good number of vegetables that Joe loves could be the actual death of him.  The Potassium levels in the fruits and vegetables Joe loves could cause him to go into kidney failure.  What the H-E-*-* is wrong with my world?!

In our house Joe is feeling unmanned by no longer being able to work and provide an income to his family, while I’m going bonkers about what is safe for him to eat.  Both of us are living in a sort of H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.  Surely Freddy Kruger will be knocking on our door at any minute.  Of course Freddy Kruger never knocked on doors, he just appeared out of no where and terrorized certain people.

When you find yourself locked in a pitched battle, and feel like you are losing, out of no where comes an ally.  Someone that HAS gone through what we are going through.  Someone that is on the other side of the problem and have their life together.  This ally has survived quite a number of years on Coumadin (Warfarin) and has an active life, a job that would be considered hazardous to his health, and the ability to make Freddy Kruger disappear in a pile of ashes to be blown away on the wind.

Our ally is none other than our vehicle mechanic.  Years ago our mechanic (Greg at G&S Automotive in Norman, Oklahoma) had a heart valve replacement.  He has been on Coumadin (Warfarin) for several years now.  He climbs around on old, banged up, and rusty vehicles – new ones, too.  He reaches into the engine compartments where there is very little space to put fingers, let alone tools, and busts his knuckles.  His customers come in complaining of a problem with their vehicle and he doesn’t back away from the work involved to get the cars and trucks running in tip top shape.  He goes elbow deep. He rolls around on the ground underneath the chassis to inspect where the odd sound is coming from.  And he always has a smile on his face.

I knew Joe was upset and worried about us going back to work.  My poor Joe was resigned to having to stand back and watch me do all the work and heavy lifting.  That goes totally against Joe’s soul and his core beliefs.  So much that it has put him in a kind of funk.  After learning about our mechanic who is taking the same medication as Joe, only in a higher dosage, has given my husband his spirit back.  He no longer lives in fear of hurting himself and bleeding to death in some remote and desolate location far from civilization.

I, myself, have an ally that has joined me in my battle.  Jann Gray of WhatYouMakeIt has inspired me with tips she has garnered over the past couple years in caring for her husband who has had a kidney transplant.  Through her knowledge, support, and sense of humor I have come to realize that food is good and a friend.  I’m totally grateful for her insight and help.

So…when you feel totally alone and nearly defeated in your life’s struggle, don’t give up.  There will be someone that will come along with their weapons to aid you in your battle.  Someone to stand beside you and fight along side of you.  Your friendship with these people will become a bond that will help you through your tough days and cherish the sanity of normal days.

Now it is time to indulge in a little chocolate 😀

A bit of chocolate

And I do mean a LITTLE chocolate.

A very little bit of chocolate

Now get in there and fight like you really mean it.  Also, have a spectacular day.

Leslie


Vitamin K and Potassium daily intake for Coumadin (Warfarin) users

This blog post really ought to have been….

Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore.

The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of Vitamin K for Coumadin (Warfarin) patients is:

  • 80 mcg (micrograms) for men
  • 70 mcg (micrograms) for women

Vitamin K is needed by the liver to produce blood clotting factors in a person’s blood.  For people taking Coumadin (Warfarin) the blood clotting factors have to be kept in check to help the body break down blood clots in the arteries and vessels that could come loose and do further damage.

Trying to figure out how to care for, and feed, my husband has become a real uphill battle.  Mining the plethora of information on the Internet has me googly eyed and I have a headache.

If you are caring for yourself as you take Coumadin, or if you are the help mate to someone taking Coumadin, I found a complete – and I do mean COMPLETE – list of foods and their Vitamin K content.  Please get yourself over to this website – Vitamin K Finder.

At least the major food groups, in my opinion, are still in play with the Vitamin K thing.  Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins 😀  and I can’t forget M&M’s and Snickers.

Okay, yes I know, you are probably about to send me a flaming comment about my choices in foods.  But it is seriously screwed up when celery is in the HIGH category of Vitamin K, along with most of all fruits and vegetables while a serving of Chef Boyardee Spagetti and Meat Balls is in the LOW Vitamin K category.

The next item I have to be concerned with for Joe is his Potassium intake.

The RDA for Potassium is:

  • 2.0 – 5.5 grams for adults
  • 1.0 – 5.5 grams for children
  • 0.4 – 1.4 grams for infants

Potassium is essential for the entire body to work.  Maintain blood sugar levels, keeps the muscles in our bodies healthy, maintains electrical conductivity of the brain, balances blood pressure, regulating fluids in the body so the kidneys work properly to remove waste, and it boosts the nerve reflexes in our bodies to help in muscle contraction – walking, talking, sitting, standing, bending, reaching, grabbing, and all other things the body does on a daily basis.

Joe’s kidney doctor said his Potassium levels need to be in the 2.1 range for his size and weight.  Joe has kidney stones, his right kidney is smaller than his left.  His right kidney is considered diseased and not functioning as well as his left one.

Here is a website I’ve come across listing the Potassium Levels in Foods.

There are some foods I’m unfamiliar with.  This website is from Australia, I think.  What is Bream?  Or Lychees?  How about Papaw?  Then there is Meat paste in the Jams and Jellies section?  What about Vegemite?  What is Swede?  I thought that was a person from Sweden – oh well.  I don’t think I will boil a Swede though.

I know from my math classes, back in caveman days, that a milligram is 1,000th of a gram and to cause serious harm to Joe I’d have to work overtime at his consumption of foods rich in Potassium….like some of these listed below.

Potassium levels in Cocoa Powder is 1500 milligrams – just a tad way over the HIGH range.

Low Fat Soya (whatever that is) in the Flour Section has Cocoa Powder beat on the High range at 2030 milligrams.

Baker’s Yeast is right behind Low Fat Soya with 2000 milligrams.  So I kind of think that Dunkin Donuts is out of the running as far as Potassium goes.

In the fruits section Dried Apricots is right up there coming in at 1880 milligrams.  Further, it seems that all dried fruits – peaches and figs – are over the 1000 milligram amount.

The thing here is that all foods have to be taken into consideration with the Vitamin K and Potassium levels spread out over a full week.

The thing to take away from this bit of “Foolishness and Mayhem” is that everything we eat has deleterious effects on our bodies if we are not informed and take care of ourselves.  All of the over consumption of Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins, not to mention M&M’s and Snickers has brought Joe and I to the fork in the road we now stand at.  Continue on down the road we have traveled for 22 years or veer off into the unknown world of physical health.

Can I just have a bite of a chocolate bar before I make the decision to turn off this road?

Dinner for Joe and I last night was Pork Chops with Sage-Tarragon Butter, Mashed Yams, and Japanese Cucumber Salad.  Vitamin K content for the entire meal is:  15 mcg.  The Potassium content for the entire meal is:  1.9 grams.  Scroll down to near the bottom of the recipes and you will see the Nutrition Facts per serving which include a listing of vitamins and nutrients.

I hope this research I’ve been doing is helpful to any of you that have dropped by my blog.  I am overwhelmed by it all but I feel positive that this will benefit both Joe and I in the long run.  I have printed out the entire Vitamin K Food List and the Potassium Food List.  I now have a place to start in getting Joe fed and cared for properly.

If you have found information on the Internet that you have found useful in your daily life and would like to pass it on, please do so by leaving a comment with a link to your source.

Leslie


Potassium levels in fruits, vegetables, and juices.

Joe’s kidney doctor gave us this sheet as a guide.

Potassium levels by fruit, vegetable, and juiceAlthough this piece of literature is helpful for me it does not give me the QUANTITY of the food listed.  How much is a serving size?  1/2 cup?  1 cup?  1 piece of fruit?  1 vegetable?

The first part of this list is beverages.  The lowest Potassium counts are to the left, the mid range is in the center, and the high counts are to the right.  Click on the photo to enlarge it.  If you are using a smart phone tap on the photo to enlarge it.

Potassium levels in beverages

Next are the fruit items.  Raw, canned, and cooked.  Take a look at the Apricot listings in each category!

Potassium levels in fruits

Next is vegetables.  The Potassium levels in this section are crazy!  The amount of Potassium goes up higher when the vegetable is cooked!

Potassium levels in vegetables

Look at how drastically the Potassium levels change in frozen green beans compared to fresh boiled green beans.  There is not a listing for green beans in the HIGH level column.

Potassium levels in green beansDoing a Google search for Potassium levels in foods I found this website.  The information at Vaughn’s Summaries has the recommended quantity next to each food and the Potassium level for that specific food.

Joe and I are terrible when it comes to serving size.  Neither of us has a clue what is the proper size of a serving of anything other than a heaping scoop….maybe even two.

Searching for some kind of a guideline as to the actual recommended serving size of a food item I came across this website – Build A Healthy Base – that has been helpful to me, maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

I think I need to  hire a dietician to help me get on track with food sizes and quantities.  While I’m at it maybe a personal trainer as well to get us out there moving in the proper way.

First, I have to go purchase a lottery ticket and WIN to be able to pay for the dietician and the personal trainer.  Until that time I’ll just have to muddle through on my own and hope for the best 😀

Hope your week is going well.  I think I need to find me some chocolate…

Leslie


I have a “Joe” monitor – kind of like a baby monitor.

In our truck driving jobs Joe and I stay connected while driving in separate trucks using hand held two way radios.

The manufacturers of these radios didn’t count on the extreme use with put them through.  They are made for families that spend a week or two in the woods, hiking, or camping.  Not for everyday use as we do.

There are two of these radios here at home.  We’ve gone to a model that was intended for daily use and is a bit more rugged.  While Joe is recuperating here at home I find that being in a different room when he calls out to me is frustrating for the both of us.  He manages to call out for me when I’m elbow deep in the middle of something and can’t get to him immediately.  I call out to tell him I’m on my way and his response is “What?”  Drives me stark raving bonkers.

If you have noticed, to the top right of my blog, there is a countdown timer to our Family Reunion.  In less than 30 days most of us will be in Florida at Disney World.  We have been planning this trip since last summer and boy is it expensive!

Our kids, when we see them, always ask about the rest of the kids that don’t live near them.  This is our way of getting our kids to catch up with each other and enjoy being a family once again.  The kids that haven’t seen their nephew, Simon, will get the chance to spend time with him…..that is if the constantly moving little object will remain in their sight for a while.  That little guy must have some hummingbird in him.

Tiffany, the mother of Simon, has asked me to make a scrapbook album for her and I’ve been working on it for a couple years now.  I don’t get much home time to really get cracking on this thing.    Hence the “Joe monitor”.  I take one of the radios into my craft room with me while Joe has the other one with him.  When he needs me for something he can press the button and call me.  If you want to see what I’m up to you can go check out my other blog – my crafting blog Message In A Fold to see what is going on there.

We had an appointment yesterday with Joe’s kidney doctor.  Seems his Potassium level is up and I need to work at getting that down.  Between the Vitamin K, salt, and fats restrictions to my shopping and cooking for Joe I now get to add Potassium to the list of decreased intake.

Reading the labels on package goods in the grocery store is helpful to a certain point.  Calories, fats, salts, sugars, and carbohydrates are listed on everything.  Not so with the Vitamin K and the Potassium.  The “Food Pyramid” is not my friend 😦  Plus the new mantra of “5 servings a day” of fruits and vegetables is not the happy little ditty it used to be.  Many of the fruits and vegetables are high in both Vitamin K and Potassium.

For now, my one and only friend in keeping Joe healthy is Dr. Gourmet with the handy dandy information on each recipe that I look at.  Balancing the meal with meat, starch, and vegetables right now is a scavenger hunt.

Enough whining.  Time to get back into my craft room and work some more on that scrapbook album for Tiffany.  And just the way my life goes.  Joe is out here in the living room while his two-way radio is back in his office and mine is in my craft room 🙂  Good thing he is about three feet away from me 😀

Before I forget, Joe has lost over 30 pounds now.  He is down from 335 to 296.  I’m still being a mean old broad by making him get out of his recliner to take a walk with me outside 😀  He’s worked up to nearly five minutes of walking twice a day for a total of 10 minutes.  I leave him on the porch steps on his return home to keep going for another 20 minutes of walking for myself.  His energy level today is pretty good and I’m happy with that.

Joe’s follow up visit to his heart doctor is September 5th.  We’ll know then if he can return to work or not.  Okay, NOW I’m off to my craft room.

Leslie


PT-INR blood testing for patients on Coumadin (Warfarin)

Yesterday I wrote about blood thinning and Vitamin K intake.  I will leave another link to the Johns Hopkins animated “Coagulation Cascade” information because the information there will be used in this post.

The “PT” part of the blood tests on people taking Coumadin is how long it takes a drop of blood to clot.  This test is called the “Prothrombin Time” test.  As with all medical lingo they have to come up with a really hard to pronounce word to scare the fool out of us commoners.

If you would like further information on THROMBIN and PROTHROMBIN and how they work in the clotting of blood I’ll leave a link for you – Thrombin.

For those of you that are not on Coumadin (Warfarin) but know someone who is might find this video helpful.  Blood thinner pills.

Referring back to the Coagulation Cascade and the process of forming clots in the blood is what the PT test is all about.  The blood test can be done at a clinic the doctor has recommended or by a Home Health Nurse.  At a clinic the blood will be drawn from a vein in the arm.  The regular type of blood draw with the tourniquet wrapped around your upper arm and a syringe poked into the vein that will allow blood to flow into a sample tube.  The test can also be done with an “At Home Test Kit” that is quite expensive.

A finger prick much like used in diabetic testing.

A finger prick

Blood is then drawn into a sample tube.

Blood drawn into a sample tube

A drop of the sampled blood is then placed on a specific testing strip that has been loaded into the machine.

Blood sample applied to testing strip

The sensor in the machine calculates how long it takes for the blood sample to go through the Coagulation Cascade cycle and gives a read out of the time it actually took for the blood to clot.

The machine calculates the Coagulation Cascade to determine how long it takes for the blood to clot.

I have no idea what the results shown on the screen mean – except that Joe’s blood is not thin enough yet.

The “INR” part of the blood testing is, essentially, a set of numbers indicating the median range optimal for blood clotting.

In the things I’ve been reading it seems a committee was formed to decide what the standard of blood testing for patients taking blood thinners would be.

The letters – INR – stand for INTERNATIONAL NORMALIZED RATIO.  All this means is that someone in Jakarta, India – Yellowknife Northwest Territories – Berlin, Germany – Edinburgh, Scottland – or Norman, Oklahoma in the US can have the blood tests done and the results can be determined by any doctor anywhere in the world.

For patients taking an anticoagulant the optimum INR results are to be between 2.0 to 3.0.  For Joe his results need to be in a higher range of 2.5 to 3.5.

There are things that will cause the testing to go whacko.  Having a glass of wine, or a jigger of whiskey, is not recommended.  Alcohol has properties that naturally thin the blood and can cause some nasty side effects.  All adult beverages are off limits to anyone taking a blood thinner.

Some antibiotics will increase the PT/INR tests.  Barbiturates, birth control pills, and Vitamin K will decrease the PT results which will cause an increase in the dosage of Coumadin.

Foods like beef or pork liver, green tea, broccoli, chickpeas, kale, turnip greens, and soybean products contain large amounts of Vitamin K that will alter the PT results.

My poor Joe.  He is lamenting the changes in his life and food consumption.  This is a difficult thing for the both of us to go through.

Joe:  I guess this means no more Chinese Food.

Me:  Yes, because of the salt content and the soybean products used in Chinese Food.

Joe:  No more deep fried chicken gizzards.

Me.  Yes, because of the deep frying.  I’m putting that on the NO list because it is an ofal somewhere near a liver and it is out.

Joe:  No more steaks either.

Me:  Yes, you can have steaks but they have to be grilled, broiled, or baked.  WITHOUT salt.

Joe:  Am I totally deprived of cookies and milk, too?!

Me:  No, you can have dairy products and cookies.  The amount of cookies will have to be kept to the Recommended Portion Size and not the “Joe size”.

Joe:  What about mashed potatoes and gravy?  Do I have to give that up as well?!

Me:  No, you can have mashed potatoes and gravy.  Here again, it will NOT be the “Joe size”.

Joe:  I want something sweet.  What can I have?

Me:  Go get some grapes, cherries, watermelon, or cantaloupe from the refrigerator.

Joe:  Can I have my Ranch Dressing with the watermelon and cantaloupe, too?

Me:  Yes, but once again – NOT the “Joe size”.  You can’t pour the dressing all over the fruit causing it to go swimming.

Joe:  😦 alright.

When I get too much guff from Joe I threaten him with a call to our “Dr. Loreli” and she will give him what for 😀  He hates it when his kids tell him to behave and listen to me 😀

Okay, now.  I think you are all up to date on everything I know about blood thinners and the treatment of Pulmonary Embolism.  I’m sure there will be something else to pass on later.

Before I totally forget, once again.

If anyone has a problem with constipation – I know not such a great topic – I’ve learned some things that I would like to pass along.  Joe has been having some issues and has been instructed to NOT STRAIN.  He could be in dire trouble if he has a bloody stool while taking Coumadin (Warfarin).

A “Black and White” Cocktail:

This is 8 ounces of prune juice, heated in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds – just until it is warm.  2 Tablespoons of Milk of Magnesia stirred into the warmed prune juice.  Drink this concoction, don’t sip it.

Dulcolax or Coalesce:

Take one tablet with 8 ounces of water.

MiraLAX:

Fill the WHITE section of the bottle cap and dump contents into any beverage you want – except adult beverages.  Water, juice, coffee, tea, or soda.  This product is tasteless and dissolves completely in liquids with some stirring.  Joe is taking this product daily and it is helping him keep regular with ease of elimination.

All of the above laxative products are purchased over the counter in drug and grocery stores.  The effectiveness of each type is dependent on your body chemistry and how constipated you are.

Everyone needs a little help  now and then to keep regular and some of these are a little more potent than others.

Now I’m off to my craft room to get myself immersed in ink and glue 😀

Leslie


Blood thinners and Vitamin K.

Bless the nurses and staff at the hospital who cared for Joe.  They passed on so much information about the care and feeding of Joe that I became totally overwhelmed by it all.  Not the least of which is his daily intake of foods and their Vitamin K content.

Frankly, I didn’t even know that Vitamin K was one of the proponents of food.  Long ago, when I was 20 something, a neighbor’s dog ate something that had been laced with rat poison.  The poor dog was bleeding from his mouth, nose,  and ears.  A hurried trip to the vet with the dog in my lap on a blanket while my neighbor frantically drove was quite horrifying to me.  Once at the vet an injection of Vitamin K was administered followed by cleaning the blood from the poor dog and keeping watch of further blood loss.  When it subsided enough that the vet was happy an IV was started and another shot of Vitamin K was given.  The poor dog was kept at the vets office for a number of days until he was deemed recovered.

Having that memory stirred in my brain at the mention of Vitamin K by the hospital staff and trying to decipher what they were telling me about watching Joe’s daily intake left me wondering if I were supposed to keep ALL food items with Vitamin K out of his diet.  What foods contain Vitamin K anyway?  I was given a list.  Click on the photo below for a larger view.  You can even drag and drop this list to your computer for your own reference.

Vitamin K in foods

Vitamin K is a natural chemical in your body which aids in forming the healing clots needed to close wounds.  Taking an anticoagulant makes the healing process take longer.  There is a video series from Johns Hopkins on the “Coagulation Cascade” that takes place within our blood stream to repair damage to blood vessels and veins you tech junkies might find interesting.

Joe is on daily injections of Lovenox into the fatty tissue of his abdomen

Lovenox injections

plus a daily pill of Coumadin to thin his blood.  These injections cause bruising sometimes by the next day.

Injection site bruising

The Lovenox will be stopped tomorrow night if his blood tests indicate the necessary readings are within the acceptable range of clotting factors.  I’ll get into the PT-INR blood tests in another post tomorrow.  These clotting factors are based on his daily intake of Vitamin K which can really cause a problem for him – and me in my cooking.

The way I have come to understand this Vitamin K chart is this.

  1. Leafy greens that are COOKED are to be kept at a minimum.  1/2 cup or less per day.
  2. If COOKED leafy greens are eaten (or scheduled for dinner) no other vegetables in the leafy green category (see the Moderate Vitamin K chart) are to be consumed on the same day.
  3. On a day when no leafy greens will be cooked raw vegetables and fruits can be consumed as long as the quantity in the chart and the micrograms do NOT exceed 500 mcg in the entire day.

This complicates my cooking a bit and what I will allow Joe to eat at breakfast, lunch, and a snack.  I am heavily relying on the website Dr. Gourmet and paying close attention to the Vitamin K listings in the recipes for one serving.

Also, one thing we’ve found is our daily vitamin – Centrum Silver – has over 500 mcg of Vitamin K in one tablet.  I’ve had to discontinue this vitamin supplement in Joe’s daily vitamin intake.

I’m thrilled to report that Joe is under 300 pounds in weight 😀

He's made it under 300 pounds

We have to watch his daily weight.  If he gains 2 to 3 pounds overnight I have to call his doctor.  If he gains 5 pounds in a couple days he has to return to the hospital.

I’ve been walking more and eating the same as Joe and I’m losing weight as well.  I’m down from 232 to 225.  This is beneficial to the both of us.  Sad that it takes a major jolt and threat to his life for me to get on the band wagon here 😦

Last night’s dinner was Cottage Pie from Dr. Gourmet with cantaloupe and honey dew melon slices.

Cottage Pie

One of our comfort foods is my major fat concoction of this dish with creamy mashed potatoes oozing butter on the top after it does the final bake in the oven.

Healthier version of Cottage Pie

This is the healthier version of Cottage Pie and it tastes pretty good.  One of the ingredients is tomato paste.  I only needed about 2 tablespoons for this recipe.  I’ll give you a tip for safely storing the contents from the can instead of throwing the rest out.  Freeze it by tablespoons.

I use a product called “Press and Seal” by Glad.  Tear a piece off and put the sticky side face up.  Deposit 1 tablespoon measures on the plastic  as shown in the photo below.

Put 1 tablespoon meausres of tomato paste on a piece of plastic wrap

Cover the tomato paste scoops with another piece of plastic wrap and press the plastic together around the mounds of paste.

Cover with another piece of plastic wrap

Press the plastic wrap around the mounds of tomato paste

Then place this sheet of tomato paste in your freezer to harden.

Freeze the tomato paste

You now have 1 tablespoon measures of tomato paste you can use in your recipes without running to the store for a can.  Once the paste is frozen solid you can cut the individual mounds and store them all in a ziplock baggie to take up less space in your freezer.

While I’m the topic of freezing foods.  One DON’T is to freeze bananas with the peels on.

Frozen bananas with the peels

The thawed results are quite gross.  Instead, peel the bananas first and put them in a bag to freeze.

Peeled bananas frozen

You can freeze your strawberries and blueberries as well.  Just put the amount you would use for a morning Smoothie in a ziplock bag and toss them in the freezer.  You won’t need to add much ice to the blender when making your morning treat.

Freezing strawberries and blueberries

How we are going to deal with Joe’s Vitamin K issues once we get back on the road is going to take a bit more research on my part.  Let me tell you – this guy is getting to be “High Maintenance” 😀  He’s worth it though.

Enjoy your weekend.

Leslie


Pleurisy as an indicator of Pulomnary Embolism

Man, the days have flown past and I can’t keep up with them nor the events.  Last Sunday (August 12th) we left for Denver from home to go get the pickup we left for our daughter to use.  The pickup crapped out on her often enough she had to get reliable transportation.  This was the first chance we had to go get it.  Over the weekend, in Denver, Joe was feeling a bit odd.  He had some bouts of vertigo and was really wasted from the trip.  We got home really late Tuesday night (August 14th) and Joe was having some difficulty getting a deep breath.

Thursday (August 16th) Joe began to complain of pain in his right side just under his breast and that he couldn’t breathe.  He kept telling me he felt like he had cracked a rib. Trying to take a deep breath was extremely painful to him and he said his lungs felt like they couldn’t get air.  Joe had shortness of breath just getting out of his chair and standing up.  Taking a few steps to head in the direction of the bathroom was extremely difficult.  Not just with the pain but not being able to get air.  Joe said he kind of felt like he was drowning but that he wasn’t.

While in Denver he crawled around under our old pickup to disconnect the driveline and he really had trouble with it so I finished the job for him.  Joe and I talked for a while about what he could have done to hurt himself and neither one of us could figure it out.

Friday afternoon (August 17th) Joe was really complaining about his right side hurting.  I suggested we go to the doctor and get some x-rays done but he was not interested in doing that.  Sometime around 8:00 p.m. he was feeling worse.  I suggested a trip to the emergency room and was shot down.  Not knowing what else to do I began searching online for causes of chest pain in the rib area.  One of the search sites had a reference to Pleurisy.  I’d never heard of that before and had to go take a look.  Here is the link to Pleurisy if you want to know what it is.  By 9:30 that night Joe had taken as much as he could and finally called our Family Physician to make an appointment for the next morning.  The pain and not being able to breath was scaring the fool out of him and me.

Our Family Physician, Dr. Carlisle, is the best.  He’s an “old school” doctor that keeps up with all the new fangled stuff and has a network of other doctors that he works with and does referrals to specialists.  Dr. Carlisle had Joe sit up in a chair and he began pushing and prodding in the area where Joe hurt on the front and on the back.  If it were, in fact, a cracked rib then Joe would have yelped from the pain.  Our doctor couldn’t find the source of Joe’s pain.  I happened to have a look at Dr. Carlisle’s face while he was examining Joe and the concern there was getting me a bit panicked.

Joe had some really odd smelling breath.  Not like someone with bad teeth, you know, that kind of sickly sweet smell of an infection.  Joe’s breath had a coppery smell to it.  Kind of like he had blood in his mouth.  When I mentioned that to our doctor he said he noticed it also.  The breath smell and the chest pain were enough indicators for Dr. Carlisle to give me strict instructions to get Joe to a local heart hospital.  Our doctor called ahead to alert them we were coming and to have one of the doctors he knows get a look at Joe.

Once at the hospital the tests began.  Blood was drawn, or attempts had been made.  Joe is a “Bad Stick”, which means that Joe’s veins are not only hard to find, they have a tendency to move around once one is found.  After four attempts, both arms and both hands, the nurse had to make a call to the “Big Kahuna”.  This young man came to the room with a sonogram machine of sorts.  It is ultrasound in nature but is meant to find the blood veins and arteries.

Watching the screen while the young man moved the wand around Joe’s arm was a trip.  The screen image looked like the surface of the ocean with waves coming in.  As the wand was held in a particular area a black hole would appear.  Moving the wand a bit more there would be another black hole that would open and close.  At a different angle the hole would turn into a winking eye.  Take a look at the video link and you will see what I saw.

Once the IV catheter was in a chest x-ray was taken.  After that was accomplished Joe was taken to a room where he would be for the next four days.  The next round of testing would be an ultrasound of Joe’s legs.  His heart specialist wanted to have this done to see if there were any blood clots in Joe’s legs.  It was suspected that he might have some.

Ultrasound on Joe's legs

After this procedure was done the next was a CT scan of Joe’s chest and lungs.  A contrast (die) was injected into Joe’s arm through the catheter to aid in seeing the blood clots and where they were located in Joe’s lungs.  The radiation tech wheeled Joe out of the room, after administering the contrast, and about 20 minutes later Joe was back.

The blood drawn earlier Saturday morning was in the lab.  There were proteins in Joe’s blood that did indicate blood clots.  The ultrasound results were that Joe didn’t have clots in his legs, and the CT scan did clearly show (according to the doctor) blood clots in both of Joe’s lungs.  We learned this on Sunday (August 19th).

If you, or a family member, have any of these symptoms – pain in the chest that won’t go away and difficulty breathing – don’t mess around.  Get your butt to the doctor.  Seriously!  This is nothing to play around with.  Blood clots in the lungs can be dislodged and moved into the heart causing a heart attack that could prove fatal.  If a blood clot in the lungs is dislodged and makes its way to the brain this will ensure a stroke that could be life threatening.

I’m not trying to scare anyone with this post.  I’m trying to educate you in this matter and give you the best information I can for your doctor to diagnosis your symptoms and start proper treatment.  Tomorrow I’ll go into the blood thinners used to treat the blood clots.

One bit of general information I have learned in all of this concerns your prescription drugs and the vitamins you take.  If your prescription drugs are taken once a day, take them in the morning on an empty stomach – unless you have some drugs that require food.  Take  your vitamins at night before you go to bed with a little bit of something to eat.  Your body will break down only about 3/4 of the vitamins and the rest will leave in waste.  If you take your vitamins in the morning you won’t get the potency you need for a healthy body.  You will excrete the vitamin benefits during the day in your urine.  Taking the vitamins at night, before going to bed, will enable them to remain in your system longer and benefit you more.  This is ONLY with vitamins you take.  Take your prescription drugs as indicated by your doctor.

I think this is enough for one sitting.  I’ll give you some more tomorrow.  Aren’t you just so excited by that prospect?!

Chicken Cacciatore recipe from drgourmet.com is linked {here}.

Chicken Cacciatore

Onions, green peppers, and dried herbs make this pretty tasty

The pasta noodles are those nasty things that are more fiber and better for us.  They are tough and chewy even after 12 minutes of cooking time.  That is the only drawback to this recipe.  Joe didn’t even notice the lack of salt used in his food.

Leslie