Life is wonderful, isn’t it? Ok, I know it could be better but for me it is just great to be alive after, unbeknown to me at the time, I came close to dying less than two weeks ago.
Regular readers of this blog will probably recall two posts – the first about what I thought was multiple sclerosis giving me a kick up the butt and the second about being rushed to hospital with a severe case of hematuria, in other words blood in urine.
Now, apparently, hematuria can vary quite a bit. The blood may be visible or in such small quantities that it can’t be seen with the naked eye. But if there’s enough blood in the urine that it appears pink or red or has spots of visible blood, it is categorised as ‘gross hematuria’.
As my urine looked like pure blood, though it obviously wasn’t, gross hematuria was the diagnosis and this can indicate one of a number of potentially nasty illnesses. In my case, however, it was quickly traced to an anticoagulant medication I take for a heart condition. This had suddenly caused my blood to go very thin and create a bleed into my bladder.
Patients taking anticoagulant medications, probably the best known of which is warfarin, have their blood tested regularly for the level of what is known as INR. It is a measure of blood clotting. Someone not on such treatment usually has an INR of around 1.0; on the medication, doctors are usually looking to achieve figures of 2.0 to 3.0, maybe 3.5.
However, any INR reading above 5.0 is regarded as dangerous and in need of corrective treatment while at 9.5 it becomes life-threatening – meaning that the patient could bleed out, literally bleed to death.
In my case, you can forget the dangerous 5.0 and the life-threatening 9.5. My first INR test in the hospital was a staggering 19.95 – not that I found out straight away. I suppose no-one wanted me to know just how bad things were.
Still, thankfully they knew exactly what they were doing. I very quickly found myself confined to bed, attached to a heart monitor and two drips. My bladder was washed out continuously for nearly two days and my INR was brought back under control. In fact, just two days after I was taken into the emergency unit, my INR test showed the level was down to 1.27 before I was discharged.
That was on Sunday, 10 days ago. Since then, I have been building up my strength. It was difficult to eat much at first but this has gradually improved although it’s not back to normal yet. In myself, I feel a lot better but am still aware that there is a way to go yet.
But, having had such a close brush with the great reaper, I am just grateful to be alive. Yes, I have multiple sclerosis; yes, I have a heart condition; and yes, I use a wheelchair – but so what? I am alive and plan to stay that way.
Through all this, Lisa (pictured left) has been so loving and supportive. It turns out that she knew just how bad things were but kept it to herself and hid her worries and tears from me. Truly, she is the love of my life; amazing, devoted, my gift from the stars.