It’s pretty much impossible to bend around and take a picture of the back of your own leg. I am familiar with mirrors and gimbals and whatnot, but there’s never one around, when you need it.
So here’s what happened. Sunday I decided that I was going to stretch the cramp out by taking a walk and some muscle relaxant. That absolutely did not work. In fact my calf swelled up and got tight like a tick engorged with a blood feast. The muscle relaxant, however, put me to sleep pretty nicely and I woke up Tuesday with a situation best described as “things suck.”
It didn’t take a lot of reasoning and research to match the symptoms to a problem (blood clot!) and of course that’s not going to get better on its own, so I mothballed the door-painting I was about to do and headed in to the ER at Clearfield General.
No offense to the fine people who work there, Clearfield General is not my favorite place. It’s not even my favorite hospital. But I feel bad singling it out for abuse: most American small-town hospitals are pretty horrible. The nice hospitals are the private ones for rich folks, that have a pool and a golf course attached. When I got to the ER I sat down next to a young guy who had a badly broken leg; his foot was twisted around so it was facing backward, and he was writhing and moaning and semi-coherent. I asked him if there was anything I could do to help him, and he replied, “get me out of fucking Clearfield.” He was in a wheelchair and his broken leg was supported with those goofy flop-down footrests; I went to the nurse’s station and said there was a guy who needed to be on a gurney because he was heading toward the floor. They came and took him away; I hope his evening went better but I doubt it.
After an hour I was up in the queue and got EKG, ultrasound (both legs and arms) and chest Xray. Then, I was wheeled back to wait another 2 hours. After that, I got my own gurney and a ride about 30 feet down the hall, where I was parked against a wall. Apparently the other nearby hospital at DuBois was filled with COVID-19 patients so Clearfield was getting the overflow. I decided to distract myself by trying to make an argument about nihilism that I’ve not had the guts to explore, before, and pretty soon I was lost, tapping away at my iPhone and loathing its text interface. My battery started to wind down.
Across the hall was a 60-something man who was overdosing on fentanyl. The nurses were paying him a lot of attention; I did not begrudge him in the slightest. I was happy to be a slow-moving disaster. Bits of discussion came to my ears – they were sending the guy’s girlfriend to CVS to get an epi-pen and narcan. Apparently in 21st century America it’s faster to source your own pharmaceuticals. Anything involving opiates appears to be fraught with deranged regulations – the fellow with the broken leg was not offered any pain relief while he was in the waiting room because, apparently, the government is concerned that people will shatter their legs to get oxycodone?
There is a deep current of sadism in American medicine, and I blame it on christianity. They want sufferers to suffer the full experience – there is no reason for it, it’s some jackass’ aesthetic from the middle ages. Why can’t a guy with a broken leg get a shot of morphine? I understand that it can be addictive but “so what?” comes to mind. Why can’t a person in pain choose to flirt with addiction? It’s not the government’s business to keep a person in pain because not being in pain is bad. It’s as if the system simply cannot countenance a person losing control over their body – which is absurd because that happens all the time, especially when we die. And, yes, I have seen pain relief withheld from the dying, which is such a problem that the entire hospice infrastructure has sprung up to try to offer humane alternatives.
Around 8:40, when my battery was almost drained, the doctor and a nurse swung by and informed me that I had a blood clot, only one, and it was a fairly normal thing to deal with, by giving me some clot busters and it’d be OK in time. I should talk to my regular doctor and lose some weight and get more exercise. Exactly that I was in the mood to hear. Everyone was very nice and I was ready to go. One of the staff came by and took my credit card to charge me half the cost of the visit, and I was told I could leave. I had a prescription to fill, so it was off to CVS.
When I got to CVS, the pharmacy was closing and the doctor had written a specific prescription for “starter packs” which meant that the pharmacist couldn’t give me loose pills in a bottle, it had to be in that format, which they could have by the next day. I asked whether there was a problem with people hanging out in parking lots crushing and snorting blood clot busters…? “Hey, let’s go get thinned out, maaan.” Is there a problem with recreational clot-busting? Ha ha ha everyone laughed and I headed back to the ER and waited another hour for a nurse to bring me a dose of the clot busters that would get my body started clot busting that night.
Then, it was home. And I lay in bed staring at the ceiling and wondering whether I’d know what happened if the clot ripped loose, or if I’d just go to sleep and not wake up? [more likely a lung embolism] I realized that I was terrified.
This morning I went in to CVS, paid the $900 for the medicine, came home, made tea and have been lounging around in bed ever since. Eventually, I’ll get up and go play some computer game (currently working on Fallout 4 in survival mode) and maybe watch a movie and drift in and out.
I have shop-work to do, but if I’m taking blood clot-busters, that would mean I need to stay away from lathes, table saws, bandsaws, and basically all the things.Last week I managed to jack up the metal lathe and install the leveling feet. And, the vintage Starrett level, shipped from the UK, arrived Thursday. So, I’m geared up to level the metal lathe, but I’m not going to mess with that thing while I’m on blood thinners, and I have painting to do.