Thursday, January 7, 2010

To The Heart of Things

I have a great deal of respect for the medical professions, but it is one of those respects that likes to keep them as far away from me as possible. On Tuesday though it was impossible for me to maintain my distance, mainly because of the near constant beratings of Mrs Velkyal to go to the doctor and get my swollen leg sorted out.

I am not going to go into the medical details of the leg issue, suffice to say that the problem with the swollen leg had affected my back because of walking awkwardly, so I was expecting some muscle relaxers and being told to ice the swollen leg. Instead, the doctor sent me to the local hospital for an ultrasound to see if the swelling was a boy or a girl. It turned out that the cause of the swelling was a deep vein thrombosis in my thigh, in fact it was a rather large clot that the doctors wanted to operate on as soon as possible, to avoid it moving and causing a pulmonary embolism or stroke. So yesterday morning, after a fitful night of sleep, I went in to have the thing removed - basically the surgeon enters the vein and puts a wire through the clot, inflates balloons at either end, injects a dissolving agent into the clot and uses a spiral to break it up before sucking it out.

Enough of the medical details, after all this blog is about my spiritual issues. Being told in your early 30s that if you had waited another couple of days to see the doctor then the clot could have made it into your lungs and possibly killed you is a very sobering thing. It may be a cliche, but being faced with your own mortality really isn't a pleasant experience. Admittedly I wasn't face to face with death, but knowing he was quite definitely in the neighbourhood isn't nice. I was a bundle of nerves the night before the surgery, and actually going to the hospital - I have an aversion to needles and things like that, and a fear of not waking up.

Has this experience had a profound effect on my outlook in life? At the moment I honestly don't know - I am not sure profundity can be measured after a day and a bit. Did it scare me witless? Most certainly, especially given that my family, as opposed to the in-laws, are all thousands of miles away back in Europe. One thing though that it did do is help me realise just how much Mrs Velkyal means to me and that the only reason she goes on at me to live a healthier life is because she loves me. Without her constantly asking me when I was going to the doctor, I could have been in a far worse state this morning.

One thing I fear happening in the coming days and weeks is that my melancholic Celtic nature goes mad, mind you, as I am on blood thinners, and thus off alcohol for a while, it won't be fueled by beer and whisky. The last thing I need is to get all maudlin and end up depressed, although I do hope to use this experience to reflect on life and any changes I need to make, not just physical but almost emotional and psychological - I might need at some point to have a chat with a priest again.

The most important though this morning is being able to sit here and write this - that makes me happy, because I am alive, something we need to celebrate more often, all of us.

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