So if you've been reading my posts about the pain in my arm, you know something's up. I had pain in my arm after an injection of dye during an MRI with contrast; the MRI was three weeks ago. I've been in some pretty severe pain since the day after the MRI, getting steadily worse with time.
I went for an ultrasound Friday afternoon, and they discovered I have a blood clot. The tech found it, called the head of radiology to come have a look, and he agreed with the diagnosis. They called my doc, who ordered me to the ER, who quickly had me admitted to the hospital. It all happened very fast; I arrived at 1 PM for the ultrasound, and was in a hospital bed about 5 PM.
The whole thing was a bit of a shocker, and it didn't help that no one explained terms to me (for example, DVT stands for Deep Vein Thrombosis). Nor did anyone explained that a clot in my arm wasn't as serious as a clot somewhere else. My knowledge of clots was that they break apart, get into your lungs, and cause a deadly pulmonary embolism. So for the first two days in the hospital, I thought I was going die in that place. Kind of does something to your mind, you know?
I had to stay in the hospital to get onto anti-coagulants, or blood thinners. It's a process that requires an intravenous drip for a minimum of three days, so while I had thought I could just get meds and go home from the ER, once I got there, I was told I wouldn't be leaving. A bit of a shocker. That left rugrat home alone and just as afraid as I was. It also left me with no personal items (like my eyeglasses) to get me through my time in bed.
Getting a clot from an injection is fairly rare, and it was apparently the talk of the hospital. Various staff, from nurses to phlebotomists to the person who changes the bed linens, could be heard commenting about 'the patient who got the clot from an injection, as they walked by my room.) Later on I might go into some details about my 'vacation,' perhaps tell you some little tidbits about my 'roommate,' but I'm keeping it to the basics for now.
Being discharged from the hospital doesn't mean the clot is gone. It's still there. It just meant that the medication level in my blood was at optimum level and I could be taken off the IV drip (Heparin) and allowed to go home and take the Coumadin daily. I still have some swollen veins from the clot blocking the vein. Think of it like a clog in a drain. Some water gets through, but if you leave the water on, it'll fill the sink and overflow. The clot is in the vein leaving the arm (makes sense, as the injection was intended to send the dye to my brain).
But blood continues to come into my arm, and is supposed to exit my arm through that vein. The pain in my upper arm muscle is the clot, and the swollen lumps in my lower arm are the veins leading into the clotted vein. They are backed up with blood circulating my arm, and they are swollen, hard and lumpy. Those backed up veins are even more painful than the clot itself.
I was discharged yesterday, and drove directly to the neurologist's office for a previously scheduled appointment to get the results of the tests (including the one that caused the clot). The encephalitis all those years ago did not cause any damage; or if it did, it was reversable damage and my brain has recovered. All brain functions are normal, I'm not having seizures, and I can rest easy knowing that I won't likely have any. Those memory blackouts are not seizures, and they don't appear to be serious. I'm fully functioning during them, and there have only been three. So I have to look on the bright side -- despite the side effect of the clot, my brain (and for that matter, my heart, based on tests done in-hospital) is A-OK.