Okay, yesterday was kinda self-indulgent, but today we’re back to our story.

Just in case anyone missed any details, I’ll tell ya what went down.  If you don’t want to know (because, “Bleaaah” feel free not to read any farther. Take a walk outdoors. That’s my advice.)

Thursday morning, I run the dog and do a little workout.  Taking a shower afterward, I realize that my ankle and knee are kinda swollen.  Weird.  Later that night, I ask my wife (a nurse) to have a look.  She says it’s not her usual area and kinda jokes that the only thing she knows that makes your leg swell up is a blood clot.  (It was a joke because she assumed there were lots of other things that would, too.  Ha.  Ha.)   End of prologue.

Friday morning, when I assumed I’d wake to a normal leg, I woke to an even more swollen leg. So I called the doctor’s office.  I went in, they had a look, and said they were going to send me in for an ultrasound to see anyone could spot a clot or anything wrong with my leg.  I ran home, did a couple of hours more work on a comic book I’m desperately trying to finish, and then ran off to the ultrasound appointment.

The ultrasound tech got really quiet and polite and asked me how I felt as she led me to a chair to await what the doctors decided.

The doctors decided to have her tell me to go straight to the emergency room without stopping anywhere.  She then scared the begeezums outta me by looking earnestly into my face and saying, “But really… How ARE you?” before letting me go out the door.

I got to the emergency room, explained why I was there, and in a very short span of time, I was in an exam room.  Many people asked me if I’d made any long trips or had a fall.  My butt went numb from sitting on the gurney-style bed.

Someone eventually got some CT work back that showed that the blood clots had already gotten to my lungs.  I was sent to ICU. Things slammed into motion then.

A hell of a lot of blood was taken, an ultrasound of my heart was performed at some point, I was asked many more times about pain, about long trips and about falls.

Eventually, they knocked me out, ran a tube up the inside of my leg, placed a filter just south of my lungs and started pumping me with some high-quality clot-busting drugs that work in tandem with a radio transmitter.  I staying fixated in that rig for the next 39 or so hours.

There were tubes and catheters and tests and more blood taken and more CT scans of contrast chemistry…

…and a bleed.

Apparently, that would be the worst?  The bleed in my right hip.  I felt weird, put my hand under my covers and said, “I think this is a problem.” The problem was an enlarging lump forming where my right leg met the rest of me.  Now, this was the few minutes of total overdrive.  Lots of nurses and shouting (shouting and cursing on my part) my wife offering at least twice to hit the ‘code blue’ button on the wall, and all the while the nurse Noel’s fist socked down on that bleed trying to hold pressure on a rupture no one could see but only guess at.  My blood pressure and heart rate tanked bad, but came back after they had the bleed under control.  My right leg (and other bits) were now filled with darkening blood that would pool in some pretty unfortunate ways for days and even now still make me look like I bathed with some leaky Sharpie markers.  My thigh is pretty much a rich red-purple trending finally this morning toward the yellow/green bruise color people have been gleefully predicting for a week now.

After the aforementioned thirty-odd hours on the clot-busting system, I had another procedure to remove all of that except the filter, and had two stents added to two veins in my leg.

By Monday night, I was moved from ICU to Stepdown.  I was already a day late on my Hubris cartoons, but I’m ashamed to admit I was finding it hard to care at that point. Something to do with answering basic questions about who and what I was in order to rule out brain bleeds and other near-death fears left me ambivalent about drawing in a way that I haven’t otherwise ever felt.  Low point.

Step-down is nice.  There was a couch for my wife or my mom to sleep on.  I improved in stages and was working on yesterday’s Hubris cartoon by the time anyone mentioned going home in a way I believed and that finally made me realize that the entire ordeal would end up taking slightly more than a complete week of my life.

Also, there was an esophageal endoscopy that was re-scheduled to fit in with my stay in the hospital… y’know, so I wouldn’t have to have it done in two weeks when it was originally on the calendar.  I dunno.  Complicated.  I will tell you guys, though (and some of you know this much better than I do, after hearing the merest details of your stories) it’s awfully nice to walk yourself to the bathroom without a robot attached to any veins.