Health update #11: final diagnosis
If you missed the news at the time: I had a pulmonary embolism back in January of this year that resulted in two months off work feeling like utter crap.
Today was my final (for now, anyway) appointment with my haematology specialist. After being formally diagnosed with a PE in January I spent three months on the blood thinning medication warfarin (often called Coumadin), then I came off the meds so I could have a full blood and genetic screen to look for a whole host of underlying reasons that could have caused the PE in the first place. This process took several months due to a cock-up by the NHS; the nurse who initially did my blood test didn’t draw enough blood for one of the important tests, and this wasn’t noticed until a month later when I had the appointment where I was supposed to get my results.
That’s all done now though. The results are: there are no results. Out of the wide range of things they screened for, only one was slightly abnormal — I have factor V Leiden deficiency on one gene (the other gene in that chromosome is fine, fortunately). In the absence of other factors this doesn’t represent a significant risk of a second (even more serious) PE. There is a risk of that, but there’s also a risk of nasty haemorrhage complications from being on warfarin long-term, so my doctor’s opinion is that I don’t need any regular preventative medication at the moment. This is great news.
There are some downsides, however. When I do something that puts me at further risk — basically, any long plane, train, or car journeys of four hours or longer, or if I have to be admitted into hospital for any reason — I have to manage that risk. I have some supersexytime compression stockings to wear (sigh) and I have to get Danielle to give me low molecular weight heparin injections (so, Clexane, Lovenox, drugs like that) the day before I fly. These injections hurt (double sigh), so that’s something I could have lived without.
Still, though, glass half full and all that: avoiding a long term requirement for warfarin, with all the risks and dietary restrictions and drug interactions it comes with, is great news.