The story of the bum leg

So I’ve got this bum leg. It’s been swollen for a while, like a couple months, following a nasty pull in my leg. The calf of the right leg had gotten, well, huge. And I frankly had ignored it because I hate doctors. Unfortunately it turns out that the leg was a ticking time bomb ready to kill me.

The leg was swollen because I had Deep Vein Thrombosis.

The problem with a DVT is they can and do kill. They clots can break free and travel through your vein to your heart and lungs. In your heart a clot could cause a heart attack. In your long, they cause a pulmonary embolism. Both are deadly.

So for months I’ve been walking around with death in my calf. On Jan 4th I visited a doctor to get it checked out. The doctor freaked out. And I freaked out.

I went to get a sonogram and they found the clots and sent me to the ERIC at Huntsville Hospital. They started me out on lovenox and warfarin. Told me I might die at any moment and sent me home. I was stunned! I was freaked out! I didn’t sleep all weekend, feeling every little twinge in my leg had to be the clot breaking free and trying to kill me.

Well, it didn’t. But what do I know? On Sunday, January 6th I was taking the Christmas tree to the curb when I smacked the crap out of my leg. I couldn’t breath my chest was on fire. I couldn’t see. I was raced to the emergency room again. This time to Crestwood because I couldn’t breath and it was closer. Crestwood ran the same test Huntsville did, the same X-rays and the same mess. And sent me home. I didn’t have a pulmonary embolism. I hade a massive panic attack.

If you’ve never had a full on panic attack you’ve no idea of knowing how they feel. It’s is probably as close as you can get toa heart attack and not have one.

Come Monday, and it still wasn’t alright. My leg hurt, and no one could see me. Tuesday was the same. I didn’t see a doctor till Wednesday. That’s when I made my first visit to Dr. Fred Stucky at Tennessee Vally Vascular Consultants. He ran another ultrasound. The good news was I had blood flow again, but I knew that because my swelling had gone down.

When I saw the Doc, he wanted to be very aggressive. I agreed. So he wanted to do a very specific procedure. He wanted to put a sheath in my leg and run catheters up to the clots and dissolve the clots. It was a risk procedure. Not in terms of my health but in that it might not work. But if it did work, it would offer a radical improvement of the traditional treatment.

When I asked how soon we could do it, the doc asked “how about tomorrow?” It was fast, but I liked it. I agreed and went home to get ready.

This story will continue in the hospital logs to follow.


For the past two months, I’ve been building a set for Theatre Huntsville.  I’m rather proud of the set, and you all should come and see the show.

In the process of building the set, I worked long days, mostly alone, swinging platforms that way upwards of 100 pounds and are 8 feet long all over a building full of tools and sharp objects.  I would swing 2×4’s of various lengths around the shop, chopping them up with one of several saws.  I pushed sheets of lumber through table saws, drilled holes, drove screws of various lengths into a multitude of wood.  I even built a jig, used the jig to build 10 roof trusses and then slung those trusses… by myself… onto the top of a set of walls 9 feet tall.

I tell you these things not to impress you, or brag, or in any way bring praise to myself.  I tell you all this because I want you to understand the risks I took.  I did so much of this alone, with no one in the shop with me (a big no-no) and often with most of my friends completely unaware of what I was doing.

Now don’t think I wasn’t careful.  I was.  When I had to destroy a prop using a sledge hammer, I actually called the president of the troupe and told her to check on me.  She did.  I was exceedingly careful with the saws.  I knew I was being somewhat risky, but I was also very aware of the risk.

So that’s why what happened yesterday is so annoying.  So I need to cut some fence posts.  I set up the saw and needed an extension cord.  It was on the set.  I went and unplugged it.  Then it happened.

I hit my head.

That’s not fair enough.  It doesn’t really explain what happened.

I hit my head so hard I saw stars and little blue birds.

I staggered for a minute, but thought I was okay.  I started back across the set.  My head REALLY hurt.  I pressed my hand to the hurt part, and it felt a bit wet.  I pulled my hand away and it was a nice shade of red.

Next thing I knew I was on my back on the floor.  The show producer and the show director were there (thank God) and heard me yell something obscene.  They found me on the floor bleeding all over my freshly painted set.  First aide was applied, and I got a ride home.

Damn it hurt.

By that evening I had a splitting headache. One of those “OH MY GOD THE LIGHT HURTS” kinds of headaches.  I’m pretty sure I had a mild concussion.  I know I had a bump the size of a golf ball.  And a scab.  And this nasty amount of dried blood in my hair.  It was pretty gross.

Today was a bit better.  I didn’t fight the sleep that I fought last night.  I got some rest that I probably needed without the consideration of the bump on my head.  But tonight… ouch.  It’s hurting again.  I think I’ll go lie down someplace very dark.