Sunday, September 16, 2012

Turns Out I'm Not Bullet Proof.

So it turns out I am not bullet proof after all. Over the course of my firefighting career I received many injuries, I had a knee rebuilt, a shoulder rebuilt, broke both legs in different locations on two different occasions. To this day I still live both my hands and feet ache from exposure suffered on winter fires.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not really complaining, just giving an accounting of the cost of doing the job. Do I wish it were different? Heck yeah I wish it were different, I would have taken better care of myself, I would have considered some of the risks I took with a more critical eye. But then I wouldn’t have been the fireman I was, I wouldn’t have had the reputation I did as being a trustworthy team mate.

So what is my point? Well my point is an explanation of my nearly month long absence from blogging. I have been away for two reasons, first I decided to reenter the work force as my pension isn’t enough and I have grown tired of struggling every month to make ends meet.

The second reason is this, as a result of going back to work and the resulting change in routine I developed what is known as a DVT (a deep vein thrombosis) in my left leg. Now I have had one before and so I know the signs and symptoms of a DVT, but at first I ignored them.

My new job is doing home assistance for the elderly and for people that have sustained injuries and just need some help. I cook, I clean and run errands, but mostly I keep people company. I enjoy this very much. One of the reasons I took the job was because I could control my hours and limit them to 20-25 hours a week.

But my first week I was scheduled to work 63 hours, I went from zero to 63 in one week. My body wasn’t prepared for the change and the result was I developed a nagging calf cramp that persisted for more than 4 days. I tried to tell myself it was a cramp, but I knew it wasn’t. So I kept working until the morning I woke up and my left leg was twice the size of my right.

I went to the emergency room because my mom made me promise to. On the drive to the ED I developed the most intense pain I have ever experienced in my life and I have known pain. The sensation was much like this. It felt like someone was slowly sliding a piercingly hot knife right into the backside of my left knee and then twirling that knife in small circles.

It brought tears to my eyes as I limped my way into the hospital. After some testing we found that I had blood clots that extended from my left ankle all the way up to my inner thigh. I went on an immediate course of blood thinners and pain killers. The big risk with a DVT is that a piece of it could break free and make its way to one of my lungs and that would become what is known as a pulmonary embolism.

Over my career I had watched helplessly as numerous patients died right before my eyes from a PE. I became scared. I was told to stay as sedentary as possible to limit my chances of dying. So I did. I took pain killers, blood thinners, and injected myself twice a day in the abdomen.

So I got through the first few days. The pain was unrelenting, it never went away. After a week of this I saw my doctor and asked how long she thought this might last. She said it could last anywhere from days to months. So turns out I was in the category of weeks, weeks of a terrible untouchable toothache in the back of my left knee.

Weeks of limping around like my left leg was actually a 30 pound sack of potatoes. It depressed me; it made me cranky and short tempered, for the first time in my life I found myself snapping at my children, I even de-friending people on Facebook because their posts pissed me off.

So since the first week of August until this weekend I haven’t felt like doing much. But thank God I am now on the other side of this thing and on the mend. I’m not whole again, but I am functioning at around 85%. I hope to get back to writing and back to life. Sorry for my absence but now you know why.

I have also come up with my next book I am going to call it this, let me know what you think.

“You Don’t Have to Call 911 to Meet a Firefighter. The top Secrets on How to Date a Firefighter.”


Ken Scofield said...

Good luck recovering. I like the book title.

Fireman said...

Thanks Ken for both.

avgjoegeek said...

wow man! I hope you do recover! I wasn't aware of that man!

LOL, but that is a great title for your new book. Can't wait to read it when it's done!

Jenn said...

I'm so glad you didn't die-- and you are back-- and I'm happy to see you around again. Take care of yourself first Tim, so you can take care of others--your kids and the other people in your life that need you. There is some truth to what those airline stewards preach at the beginning of each flight (with regards to the air masks)--take care of yourself before trying to take care of others. And get to 100% better cuz we like you that way!! ♥ Jenn

Fireman said...

Thanks Jason. The book idea came from a bunch of posts I did on how to date a fireman, they are still my most popular posts.

Fireman said...

Thanks Jenn. My poor kids, you should have seen the looks on their little faces when I lost my cool, it really scared them. When I calmed down I sat them all down and apologized to them and explained what was going on, I had tried to be tough and not let them see me suffering. So they accepted my apology and even pitched in to help by making their own school lunches and helping around the house. Made me very proud of them.

Jo said...

Okay so you learned from this a few things? Like:
1) Tell your children when you are in pain. They will respond.

2) Use your medical knowledge to get the help you give others when needed.

3) You are missed when you disappear.

The book title will attract men, not so sure about the women you want to attract, though. I did read all the posts and I enjoyed them, so I think the book idea is good, really good. But not the title, so much.

I like the first half..."You Don't Have to Call 911 to Meet a Firefighter" or possibly "You Don't Have to Set Your House Afire to Meet a Firefighter" type of thing is great. The 'secrets' part, I'm not fond of, but that, of course, is just my opinion and what the hell to I know?

Very glad you didn't die and very glad you're back.

Fireman said...

Thanks Jo and you are right on all counts. I am stubborn and selfish and did learn that my kids can take it. And thanks so much for the feedback on the book. That is why I threw it out there because I knew my lady friends would tell me the truth. I love don't set your house on fire too. So no mention of "secrets", you think women will get it with just the base title?

Kathy said...

That is just plain scary! I am so glad you are doing better now but sorry to hear you have had to deal with this in the first place. Hope you continue to improve.


sandra tyler said...

scary as hell. My husband's life-long best friend, just shy of 51, died of a lung embolism just a year ago. He never had any leg signs. just was sucking on an inhaler a few days before he dropped dead. his sister also died of a lung embolism though she had signs in her leg but didn't get to a doctor in time. Ironically perhaps, my husband's friend was a nurse.

Fireman said...

Thanks Kathy I am on the mend for sure.

Fireman said...

Thanks Sandra, And I'm a paramedic, I only went because my mom made me promise to. I know how scary it is, I have been a wreck for weeks. Sorry to hear about your friend, it is nothing to mess with.

Susan ~ Today's Working Woman said...

So sorry to hear of your pain. I certainly wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. I know sometimes when I am in pain, I snap at people too. Take care of yourself Tim...we all would like to see you around for awhile; especially your family.

Fireman said...

Thanks Susan, I'm back to 80% or so now, things are looking up.

Rum-Punch Drunk said...

Well, thank God you got medical advice when you did, otherwise you may not have been here to write this post. I do hope you recover soon and can get back to the work you enjoy.

I always say, take heed to your health, you won't be happy without it! Get well soon mate.

Unknown said...

Chronic pain like you're experiencing can really impact your life negatively. I used to work with a neonatologist who was known for his surly disposition and quick temper. We didn't know about his ongoing hip pain. After he had bilateral hip replacements, he was a completely different person. Although I've never had them, blood clots are incredibly painful.I hope you're getting some relief these days!


Glad that you got medical advice. God luck to you May God be with you always

I'm Kim. I work in denver family counseling