Photos and Words of Patrick Calder

I live in Washington, DC with 1 cat named Pixel, 6 cameras, 3 computers, 158 movies, 286 books, and 1 bowling pin. I own the Design Foundry and pretend to be a graphic designer by day.

Please keep in mind that this post is more than 3 years old. Opinions change. Tastes change. Everything changes. I may still agree with or like this, or I may not. But everything is kept up here for archival purposes.

Health Update / October 10, 2006

I realize I haven’t actually provided any substantial update on my condition since the night I got home from my first trip to the hospital. And that one was written under the heavy influence of Percocet.
The first couple days back were as fine as could be expected. The pain in my side was still there, but at least I knew it would go away. Those injections in my stomach freaked me out on a regular schedule, (twice a day). But I had no trouble getting work done around the house, and I could walk around the neighborhood enough to run errands and look for a doctor.
Doctors and medicine in DC are scary. The hospital is probably still totaling up all the money I owe them. And when it came time to find a doctor out in the real work to perform regular blood work for the next six months, well…
They gave me a list of places I could supposedly get the work done. Like everything else done by the hospital once I told them I didn’t have insurance, they seemed to assume I’m destitute. The list of doctors was actually a list of DC’s public health centers. I knew it was a bad sign when the pictures of their facilities on their own website scared me. But after consulting with a lifetime DC resident, I learned that there was really only one of the centers where I was more likely to be treated than shot. And visiting there, I really wasn’t so sure about that. Despite my assurances that I would likely be dead by then from unregulated drug usage, a screener told me that I couldn’t get any treatment without a complete physical, the first appointment for which was two months hence.
I went home, and did something that feels increasingly abnormal in this information age. I asked a neighbor for a recommendation on a local doctor. Quick as that, they gave me a phone number, and I had an appointment scheduled–for the next day–within the hour with no hassle. A doctor who turned out to be a pulmonary specialist, and was very understanding about the money.
Of course, no matter how good the doctor is, it doesn’t guarantee how my body will react. Just days after leaving the hospital, I had a sore backside, that made sitting uncomfortable. The news from the doctor was that my medicine was actually over-effective, and needed reigning in. Despite regulation, my “INR” continued to climb beyond the desired range, and the pain in my lower back followed along the same path. Soon enough I was able only to spend all day on my back. Every attempt to stand meant excruciating pain shooting up my back, and dull pain increasing the longer I was on my feet.
By the time it got to the point where I nearly passed out while trying to stand one morning, I was paranoid enough to be ready to visit the ER again. (It was a weekend, and the doctor was closed). Bryan was more than generous in offering to take me there, and waiting a ridiculous amount of time for me. Despite numerous expensive tests, they found nothing, which came as quite a relief, given that internal bleeding is a side effect of the drugs I’m now on. I left the hospital for the second time, with a prescription for pain killers.
Life since then has revolved around trying to find the best way to accomplish everything in life while horizontal on the couch. Standing up involved a long drawn-out process, and was kept to a minimum, occasionally accompanied by Percocet. As recently as last Thursday, any trip further than the front door involved a taxi cab, and considerable recovery time. And that’s mostly my life for about 2 weeks. Sleeping, working on my laptop. Lots of bad TV and podcasts. And the big excursion once a day to check my mail.
It’s not all bad. If people are to be believed, this was all a great diet regimen, since everyone’s saying i look thinner. Dunno how that could be considering how much ice cream Shannon brought me. *shrug*
I have been slowly getting better. The big aches and pains disappeared fairly quickly once my drugs were balanced. And the lower level stuff has been slowly working it’s way out. Last Friday, I started taking walks. Just a block or two the first day, and then getting longer. Today I was actually able to go to a lunch meeting and run some errands, with only some twinges. Sitting in chairs is still not easy, but it’s getting there.
By next week, I’ll probably (*knock on wood*) be relatively back to normal. I can and probably will still feel the tightness in my side from the original clot, but without pain. And I lose my breath more easily, presumably due to thinner blood. My biggest complaint, though, is the prohibition on fruits and vegetables. (Though given the stories on the news lately….).
I do want to thank Sarah, Bryan, and Shannon for all their help; and everyone else for their offers.
If I knew all this could be caused by spending the day with Vail…. 🙂

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