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.”