So, onto The Clots, those blobs of blood that recently caused me all manner of stress. As I may have said before, a couple of Mondays ago I popped into the Charing Cross for a quick MRI of the chest and abdomen and the following day I was cordially invited to return at top speed as they had spotted Things in the arteries of my lungs that probably oughtn’t to have been there. The doctor who ordered the scan hadn’t even been on a clot hunt, she had been looking for something very different and so they had been found by an Extraordinarily Lucky Chance.
So I was admitted to the Acute Medical Unit and hooked up to a monitor and settled down to wait and see how my heart was coping with these unexpected spanners in its works. This was the first time I’d had something acute wrong with me and I was terrified: I felt that I might have a heart attack any minute or that if I sneezed, the clots might break off and shoot up to my brain.
This was the most challenging aspect of the situation: with MND I have been used to thinking of death as something slow and clearly- signposted, but this could easily have been rapid and unexpected.
I finally got to have my echocardiogram where I watched my heart strutting its stuff on a screen. I actually thought it looked quite damp and foppish but the medics on the case were satisfied enough to discharge me.
For the first few days after I got home I remained haunted by fears (with little medical justification) that my heart was going to explode or that I was going to bleed to death through my nose. It felt so wrong to have these intruders in my lungs and they weren’t even ‘foreign objects’ as they consisted of my own blood. The doctors seemed happy to trust that the Rivaroxaban (the blood-thinning drug I’m taking) would keep my blood thin while my body got on with demolishing The Clots but it was hard for me to believe it.
I once read an article by a woman who’d managed to shrink her cancer tumour by visualising it as an iceberg melting under a blazing sun and I thought this might be a handy method of Clot-busting. My efforts were hindered by my shameful inability – despite spending several minutes looking at diagrams online – to visualise exactly how my heart, lungs and arteries were arranged and I couldn’t focus on The Clots while worrying that I was picturing the aorta in the wrong place.
So here I am, a few weeks on: yesterday I asked a neurologist about checking if the drugs are working and, like everyone else, he replied that as long as I remained asymptomatic then we could assume things were fine. I’m interpreting that at its most basic to mean that as long as I’m alive, I’m not dead.
Watch this space.
(image: the khan academy)