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Life is Short, Take the Trip, Buy the Shoes, Eat the Cake

With a 91 year old fragile mom and seven grandchildren nearby we are frequently being asked why we travel so much. My answer is always that we want to do it while we can because we don’t know how long we’ll be able to do it. Although we are both in good health we are no spring chickens!

That answer became a lot clearer to me recently. Since we are in the process of having our house on the market thus trying to update and keep it presentable to buyers we’ve been home since returning from our Texas trip. In the meantime I’ve been planning a trip to South Dakota. Plans were to leave our home in Kinston on Friday, April 14 for Clemmons where our younger son lives. His baby girl (refer to last April’s post) will be celebrating her first birthday a little early on Saturday, April 15 with a family party. Of course we wanted to be there for that so plans were to go to Clemmons on that Friday, stay at Tanglewood Park (great park) and then spend Easter with them. Monday, April 18 would be departure date for South Dakota. Great plans. Right? Not really.

A couple of weeks ago Jerry started having trouble with his left leg when he turned wrong going up the steps from the river room. He thought he had probably pulled a muscle and already suffering from a nasty cold he took it easy for a few days. Then on Saturday, March 25 while we were in Raleigh attending a horse show his leg began to hurt quite badly. Of course he didn’t tell me about it but on Sunday rather than going to church and our granddaughter’s soccer game he rested all day. Again thinking it was a muscle or tendon problem we called my cousin who is an Orthopedic PA and he agreed to see him on Monday.

Since someone was going to be looking at the house that afternoon I stayed home to get it ready while Jerry went to the doctor in Greenville (generally I go with him for something like this). About 5:30 I got a phone call from Jerry saying he was on his way to the emergency department (ED) at Vidant. When the PA x-rayed and couldn’t find a problem he sent Jerry straight over for an ultrasound where they immediately found blood clots in his leg! Vidant is roughly 45 minutes away but there was the 5:00 traffic to contend with so it took me a bit longer and I can’t even begin to describe the panic I was in.

Let me just tell you, that is a scary diagnosis but apparently not as emergent to the staff at Vidant. After 4 ½ hours we were finally taken back to be assessed and treated. I will say that once we got back things moved very smoothly and quickly. (I would think the long wait could somewhat be attributed to the many people seeking emergency care that really weren’t very sick. To say the waiting room which is quite large was full of people would be a great understatement.) They assessed and ran tests and affirmed that yes indeed he did have several blood clots in his leg. Unlike the old days when he would have been hospitalized they gave him a dose of blood thinner, a prescription and told him to see his regular doctor the next day.

We went to our internist the next day and I won’t bore you with the rest of the details but will tell you it’s been a week! We were told that DVT’s were painful but other than the initial pain Jerry didn’t have much pain until Saturday night when suddenly he was hit with excruciating pain. For the next several nights I had my clothes nearby and one night I didn’t even take off my makeup because I was sure we were going to the ED again.

By Wednesday we were back in the doctor’s office again. Fortunately everything is OK but it will just take a while to heal. The danger time with a clot is obviously when it forms and then for three days after that, then three days after the medicine begins. Praise the Lord we are passed by stage now. Actually the doctor told Jerry yesterday that he could do anything he wanted to if he could stand the pain because to do very much at this stage would be painful. Oh yeah, we know that!

Thus, the reason for this post. We are not RVing to Clemmons, not going to South Dakota and I am not sure when we will be able to hit the road again. I know that we will be a lot more vigilant about stopping every two hours and walking around for 15 minutes. I know I may be driving more. Actually I told Jerry he better ask for something for his nerves if I will be driving a lot! We have no idea what caused Jerry’s clots which is in itself frightening but we know what symptoms to look for now. Needless to say we have learned a great deal about DVT’s (Deep Vein Thrombosis) in the last couple of weeks.

DVT’s generally occur after a major event such as surgery but that is not always the case. Some of the indicators that could put you in a high risk category could be being over 60, a smoker, overweight, or sitting for long periods of time which RVer’s often tend to do when traveling. Also, there could initially be no obvious symptoms as in Jerry’s case. Warning signs to look for are swelling of the leg (most DVT’s occur in the left leg), discoloration (Jerry’s leg was quite red), warm skin (Jerry’s leg was hot) and pain when you stand or walk. Each of these symptoms could be contributed to something else but together they can indicate a DVT. Except for the initial pain on Saturday night while we were at the horse show Jerry had little to no pain initially. His pain came about a week later after he had been on the blood thinners for 5 full days.

Travel when you can. Don’t put it off. Life is short and can change in a moment. We all “know” this but sometimes we get reminded in a most alarming way. We were fortunate and we know it. We talk a little bit more now, hug a little bit more now and just say “thank you Lord” a lot more. We are temporarily on a sabbatical but will be RVing again as soon as we can. There’s so much to see and so many people to meet and as always we are grateful to our Lord and Savior for the protection he offers us, many times when we are totally unaware that we even need it. Such was surely the case for Jerry on March 25. I’ve got a feeling that the Lord has some plans for us!

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