When I left Yangon with suspected pulmonary embolism, we all expected I would be back in a few days time. My packing reflected that short timescale, as well as the expectation that I would be in hospital most of the time. By the time I was eventually discharged from hospital (after a whole week) I had already worked my way through most of my clothes. Most of my clothes comprising night clothes, a few tee shirts and 2 pairs of trousers. And a swimsuit, just in case…….. that is a necessity.
The pain was mostly gone when I was discharged, but my blood levels had not reached the “therapeutic level” yet so I knew there would be a few more days in Bangkok before I could return. I was told that it could take another 1 – 2 weeks for my bloods to not only reach the right levels, but they also had to remain stable within the” therapeutic range”. As my strength slowly returned I was able to do some emergency shopping and get a few essentials to tide me over.
My first blood check was the day after my discharge from hospital. I had already been back the previous evening for the dreaded injection into the stomach and as my appointment was not until 11 am I decided to nip over to the hospital early for my 8 am jab, get the blood draw and then return to the hotel for a relaxing breakfast. My plan was sabotaged almost immediately as I learned that Dr W would actually be earlier and would see me as soon as the blood results were available in around one hour’s time. With the blood draw done, I headed to the ward and had the second needle of the day, knowing I would miss the hotel breakfast unless my appointment with Dr W was extremely quick!
Of course I missed the breakfast! It was not long after 9 when I was called in, but with the need to settle with the cashier afterwards, the hotel breakfast was clearly missed! Happily though I did bump into a friend from Yangon and we had the chance to catch up.
Even more happily, and to my surprise, my bloods had just tipped over into the therapeutic range. Dr W had looked subdued when I entered his consulting room, and with a kind of hang dog face, started with “I’m really sorry….” My heart flipped over, expecting some kind of sinister news, and then he said “you will not be needing any more stomach injections after this evening!” I was not sure whether to laugh, cry or squeal and probably did all three, as he leapt up from behind his desk and gave me a big hug!
I left the room with an appointment for the Tuesday, an adjustment in the Warfarin dosage, my blood results and a broad grin. One more needle that day and then NO MORE NEEDLES for two whole days. Two whole days without needles – just unimaginable bliss!
The following needle free days enabled me to begin that recuperating and rebuilding process as well as venturing slowly back into the scary outside world. Those days passed incredibly quickly though, and I found myself again proferring my arm to the needle counter for the next blood draw.Another wait for results, with my eyes scanning over my book, reading and re-reading the same paragraphs and still retaining none of the words let alone any meaning. Eventually, Dr W appeared and again I was summoned into his room. No games this time, a big broad grin and he flamboyantly circled that day’s blood results. A further nudge more comfortably into the therapeutic range. He then prepared my report so that I could return home, pronouncing me fit to fly, providing me with 3 month’s supply of Warfarin, an instruction to adjust the dose again and to have regular draws in Yangon, and a return appointment for 3 month’s hence. Which is also the time of my next oncology check, and the annual Big Check in October.
Finally I was able to arrange my return travel and plan to get home to my non tilty bed, hubby, lush garden and super-cute puppy. I had been away for two very long and scary weeks, longer than we all expected. And that return home to Yangon was the long awaited Great Escape Part 2.
It does appear that this has been a “rare but dangerous” side effect of Tamoxifen and I have now been switched to Femara. There were apparently several lobes of the lungs affected by embolism and it is no wonder that I was in such pain. It was incredibly frightening. I am very fortunate that cardio scans show no lasting effects or damage to the heart. My confidence has been seriously knocked though and I think it will take a bit of time to rebuild emotionally as well as physically. My 2012 pledge of resilience is incredibly pertinent and I am focusing intently on that.