Alternate title: how my teenager spent the worst Christmas of her life.
So, I mentioned that my 17-year-old broke HER right leg, just a couple of weeks after I broke MY leg, and how it just added another level of fuckery to our already upside-down world. She broke the same bone that I did, although her fracture was just a vertical, hairline crack along the back of her leg. She was in tremendous pain, and spent almost two weeks lying on the couch, miserable. Unfortunately, this was the worst thing she could have done! I didn’t realize it at the time, especially since I was incapacitated and in pain myself, but being immobile and not moving around placed Kayley at a high risk for developing blood clots. And that is precisely what happened.
At a followup visit with the orthopedic specialist several weeks after her injury, Kayley mentioned that she was still in tremendous pain, even though at that point she should have been nearly healed up. The doctor carefully examined her leg, noting that her pain was focused mostly in her calf and the back of her knee. Almost immediately, he announced that he was certain she had a blood clot, and sent her right over to radiology for a confirmation. An ultrasound showed that she had THREE blood clots – two in her calf and one behind her knee.
What was intended to be a quick followup at the doctor turned into a 12-hour ordeal with Kayley and Paul! Apparently, blood clots in teenagers are fairly uncommon, and they weren’t really sure how to proceed. After spending time with the ortho, and then in radiology, Kayley ended up in the ER at Children’s Hospital, while they figured out what to do next.
Kayley was admitted to the hospital that night, which turned out to be the night before I was admitted for my knee surgery. You can imagine the fun Paul had, running around to two different hospitals, while dealing with our other four kids. He is the best husband EVER, you guys. Anything I have ever bitched about has been negated by him stepping up and running this whole house for weeks on end. Anyway. Here I am, visiting Kayley in her hospital room right before I headed down the street to get ready for my surgery.
At the hospital, they poked Kayley about nine thousand times, injecting her with the blood thinner Heparin and testing her levels of the drug to make sure they didn’t give her too much or too little. I had no idea it was such a tedious process. She was there for a couple of days, and came home completely black and blue. At home, Kayley had to inject herself twice daily, which is not for the squeamish! It’s a subcutaneous injection, given in the belly – and it BURNS. In addition, Kayley had to get her blood drawn every few days to check her Heparin levels, because they can get out of whack really quickly, as we unfortunately found out.
Just after Christmas, Kayley was out to dinner with her dad and some friends. She hadn’t been feeling well at all that day, and during dinner, she went to the bathroom to discover that she was peeing straight blood. Now, people – I am not talkin’ blood-tinged urine. I am talking STRAIGHT BLOOD. It was like something out of a horror movie. They headed right to the ER, and she was admitted once again, this time for several days. Somehow, Kayley’s Heparin level was triple what it should have been, and she was bleeding internally. More tests, more medications, more pokes and sticks. She made it home on New Years Eve, although we didn’t do a whole lot of celebrating. Here is what Kayley’s belly looked like while she was on the blood thinners.
Kayley finally finished up her six-week blood thinner regimen and a followup ultrasound showed that her blood clots are now GONE – yay! Unfortunately, because she is now at a higher risk of developing blood clots, she has to wear a tight compression stocking on her right leg pretty much all the time – FOR A YEAR. A year, people! That should underscore how serious this was. The whole ordeal was damned scary for our family. If a blood clot travels to your heart or lungs, it can kill you! And it’s something you never think will happen to you.
There are many risk factors for blood clots, but what put Kayley specifically at risk was: her recently broken bone, lack of movement and exercise, her weight, and the fact that she was on the pill. If she were a smoker, her risk would have gone up even more. Here is a site that has everything you could ever want to know about blood clots. Educate yourself and take care of your body! This is not something you ever want to deal with. And how badass is Kayley, going through all of it at seventeen?