What I’m learning about Pulmonary Embolism or PE

Most everyone has heard about blood clots in the body going to the heart, causing a heart attack and death.  Also blood clots in the body going to the brain causing a stroke and possibly death.

I need to do a disclaimer first before I go much further.  This informational post is about a very serious illness that is happening to my husband.  He is not contributing to my blog – other than being the one suffering with this illness – so I may get carried away and lose focus on the important stuff with bits of drama.

How does a person even get Pulmonary Embolism?  It is not like the flu or cold.  It is not contagious.  It is a “lifestyle” issue.  Fit and active or fat and inactive this can be a problem for anyone.  We both fall in the fat and inactive sector.  According to all the things I’ve been reading, and it has been quite a lot, PE can be caused by any one or more of the following.

  1. Any type of surgery followed by lengthy bed rest.
  2. Air flights longer than  four (4) hours.
  3. Driving a vehicle for eight (8) or more  hours without periods of stopping and walking.
  4. Severe altitude changes.  Living in a low altitude environment then traveling to a much higher altitude environment and back down again.
  5. Having a job or lifestyle that is always sitting with no periods of walking or exercise.
  6. Being diagnosed with DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis.  This is blood clots in the legs with swelling.
  7. Taking certain birth control pills.

Of the items listed above #7 would be least of our worries.  On the other hand, if Joe felt it necessary and prudent to take birth control pills during our married life I would be concerned for his mental health.  And while I’m on this jag….when Joe gets a new medicine to take I always read the information supplied from the pharmacy regarding the medication.  I particularly pay close attention to the side effect section.  In the past I have told Joe there is one side effect he needs to pay particular attention to and alert me when it happens so we can get immediate medical attention.  What is that side effect you may ask.  Vaginal bleeding.

The two internet sources I have found most helpful are:  The Mayo Clinic; and Wikipedia.  Each has good information to help understand what PE is.  Each person has their own different onset of symptoms.  One thing also to know is that blood clotting is a hereditary factor.  In our case, Joe’s middle son was in the hospital last year for blood clots in his lungs so Joe inherited it from Curtis 😀

I’ll take the numbered items above and relate how they are contributors to Joe’s Pulmonary Embolism.

  1. Any type of surgery followed by lengthy bed rest.  In 2005 Joe was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer.  That was a scare.  Hearing that my Joe has cancer was not the best news I could have had.  The treatment research fell to me and I scoured the internet.  The best option, as far as Joe was concerned, was the DaVinci robotic surgery.  I’ll leave a link to this just in case someone might be looking for information – just click on the DaVinci link.   The surgery was scheduled for December 2007.  There were some complications with the DaVinci method which meant the regular surgery was performed as well.
  2. Air flights longer than four (4) hours.  Joe was a crop duster for over 25 years.  He doesn’t fly airplanes because he doesn’t trust the pilots.  This one doesn’t apply.
  3. Driving a vehicle for eight (8) hours or more without periods of stopping and walking.  Our job is just that.  The only exercise we get while working is during the 1-1/2 to 2 hours of hookup and unhook, walking from the fuel islands to the fuel desk to pay, parking at the hotels and walking to our rooms.  Other than maybe a quick run into the truck stop for food or being able to stop at a regular restaurant in our deadheading, we sit all the time.  The long hours of sitting with little or no movement is not good for any person.  Sitting in a vehicle causes the blood in the legs and feet to work harder on the return trip to the heart.  This is generally where blood clots begin to form.
  4. Severe altitude changes.  Living in a low altitude environment then traveling to a much higher altitude environment and back down again.  June and July we had our share of drastic altitude changes.  Being in Colorado for work a couple times in those months was a contributing factor to Joe’s recent problem.
  5. Having a job or lifestyle that is always sitting with no periods of walking or exercise.  All we do in our jobs is sit.  Once we get the trucks hooked up we sit for a couple days for transport then delivery.  We sit for long periods of time in our pickup doing the deadheading to new work.  What do we do when we get home?  Sit.
  6. Being diagnosed with DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis.  This is blood clots in the legs with swelling.  Our family doctor has been concerned with the swelling of Joe’s left foot and leg for about four years.  He has had Joe on a daily aspirin regimen for a long time to thin his blood and help with the swelling in that leg and foot.
  7. Taking certain birth control pills.  I wouldn’t have to work another day in my life if this item were the case 😀

As you can tell, five of the seven (7) most common factors of Pulmonary Embolism have contributed to what Joe is going through now.

Joe is now on a Warfarin treatment, which he has taken to calling “Rat Poison” pills.  The common name of this drug is Coumadin.  It is a blood thinner which will allow Joe’s body to breakdown the blood clots and dissolve them within his own system.

I’ll end today’s post with a breakfast recipe that is good for anyone taking Coumadin/Warfarin.  It is for oatmeal and Joe has given an approval rating of 3 *’s out of 5.  Mostly because the raisins were put in last and they were too chewy for him AND he couldn’t have half a stick of butter melting in the hot oatmeal nor swimming in milk.

Healthy Toasted Oatmeal.  Check out the website if you are on a gluten free diet, are a diabetic, have GERD or acid reflux disease, or are lactose intolerant.  Each recipe comes with a dietary fact box for calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins.  Vitamin K and the Sodium content are the two things I have to watch closely now for the care and feeding of Joe.

I’ll not inundate you with tons of information about PE.  I’ll give it to you in bits and pieces 😀

Hope you have a fantastic day.  Get up and walk for three minutes.  Right now – go do it.  I don’t want you to be the next casualty to PE.



About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

6 responses to “What I’m learning about Pulmonary Embolism or PE

  • Jann Gray

    I am an information junkie….so I love that you shared all of this with us! Am praying for Joe’s continued healing…he bears no resemblance to a “rat” so I am not overly concerned about him taking “rat poison” – but tell him that he HAS TO BE NICE to you or my worry level will go WAY UP! Love you guys! let us know when you get to be home….and I am getting up right now to WALK!

    • Message In A Fold

      Oh my stinkin’ heck. I forgot to tell you that I took Joe home yesterday afternoon. He’s shuffling and slowing making his way around the house.

      Thank you Jann, for your thoughts and prayers. We both appreciate you and your prayers. I showed him your comment and he got a chuckle out of it 😀

      There will be more information coming. I’m going to keep it down to small pieces. This whole situation is quite overwhelming and is way too much information to take in all at one time. Your eyes will glaze over, as mine has done, and your brain will go into fits and starts, as mine has done 😦

      Love you – enjoy your walk – Leslie

  • gardenpinks

    Rat poison LOL Well Joe is right there warfarin is indeed a component of rat poison – causes internal bleeding in rats as the dosage is high. Another friend is on Warfarin and took a while for the medics to get the dosage right for her but she is now okay and doesn’t have to have daily blood tests any more but only has to go every month or so now.
    I sent an email asking what the regimen is now that Joe is home but you have answered that here 🙂
    No you won’t make my eyes glaze or brain to melt down – I find these sorts of facts interesting.

    No I’m not doing any more walking today thanks LOL Mowing our lawns is enough walking I tell you! It usually takes me about 1.5 – 2 hours to mow all the grass and many of the areas are uphill too, jesting aside I must fit in more walking. I used to do so much once upon a time especially when I worked in the nearest small town which meant a 3 mile walk to work and then 3 miles home again with the last part consisting of a steep hill! 🙂 We start to slow down and then realise we have almost stopped! So now is the time for you and Joe to start walking around your neighbourhood and I must start doing the same when I’ve finished pushing barrow loads of plant material uphill to the nearest compost heap 🙂

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      Good Golly! You are really getting your exercise in. Makes my legs quake and back hurt just reading about your yard work 😀

      I’m glad to hear your friend is doing well on the Warfarin. Maybe she will be totally off of it in the near future. Our Curtis had a year of it and he is now done.

      I’m having to be a mean task master. Getting Joe out of his comfy chair to walk the house a couple times during the day and once outside into the fresh air going down our porch steps and down the street past a couple houses then back again. Poor guy, he’s trying to rebel but doesn’t have the strength to put up much of a fuss 😦 Plus, forcing water on him during the day to keep him hydrated is another mean thing I’m doing. I’ll try to make up for it with dinner tonight. Hopefully a recipe for Chicken Cacciatore will be good with no salt. I’ll have a link to it in tomorrows post.

      You take care of yourself ramming around with the wheel barrow. I will be overcome with grief if I read a post from Rod on your blog telling us you are in hospital from injuries incurred by a runaway wheel barrow laden with compost material 😦

      Love you – Leslie

  • gardenpinks

    LOL Leslie. Actually just over 10 years ago I ended up with a broken leg, broken bones in my foot and several broken toes after slipping down a bank whilst pushing an empty wheelbarrow 🙂 The grass on the bank had become slippy and down I went, one leg bent and I sat down heavily on it. Only took a minute and I was in plaster for 6 weeks. Did that on the Friday evening and no way was I going to Accident and Emergency on a Friday evening when it would be full of drunks and junkies … I knew I had broken bones as I heard the cracks! I hopped and hobbled around the house, crawled up the stairs on hands and knee to bed all weekend and finally conceded defeat the following Monday morning! The x-rays showed the fractured leg bone but the foot and toes were overlooked, however the plaster was from mid foot to knee. When the bruising finally came out my foot – what was visible – was black for days 🙂 I am now extremely careful when pushing wheeled arrows around LOL

    Tell Joe not to complain it is all for his own good; sitting on his butt for too long is what has helped bring on this condition 🙂
    Love and hugs to you both
    Lynn xxxxxx

    • Message In A Fold

      I remember you saying something about that before. I was astonished then and am astonished now at the pain tolerance you had with the fractured bone! Emergency rooms are terrible on the weekend. All the Yay-hoos get themselves in difficulties then and tie up the doctors and nurses for regular people.

      You not only got down the hill quicker than you anticipated on that day, you also got to be a “Rambette” – you know….the female version of Rambo. 😀 Don’t do that again just to have a chance to go down memory lane!

      Joe is complaining about the walking, then he acts amazed that all the walking seems to help the pain in his back and his legs work better. Go figure 😦 At least he is doing well and I’m happy for that.

      Love you – Leslie

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