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Helping clot patients recover

Before we talk clot treatment, let's take a step back.

The first time I met Jason Smith, my ankles were hot to the touch, almost unable to bear weight, and my sense of humor had long gone after 48 hours in a hospital room.

It was a Tuesday afternoon in April of 2014.

After feeling really bad for a month, I finally dragged myself into the ER.  They took one look at my bizarre symptoms and quickly isolated me.

An ER nurse walked in said “O…..kay. Be right back.”

She returned to my room wearing something that resembled what Neil Armstrong wore when he stepped on the moon.

A few minutes after that a doctor walked in.  Keeping his distance, he immediately said “Admit him.  Just admit him.”

I was not happy. I did not have time for this.

They got me out of the ER fast, and into a room that had isolation protocol procedures written all over it.

Another nurse, in something resembling a HAZMAT suit, went about the tough job of calming me down and forcing me to focus.

I told her “I have Springsteen tickets in Nashville for Thursday and I’m walking out of here at noon then.”

Wearing gloves, she patted me on the shoulder and said “Sure you are honey. Sure you are.”

After getting worse for the next 48 hours Jason Smith walked in. He was about the tenth doctor who had been in. All of them questioned me about international travel and my proximity to ticks. They drew enough blood to make Dracula jealous. Nothing.

About 30 seconds after Jason Smith walked in he said  “Wow. I bet you have sarcoidosis.”

Just like that.

I missed Springsteen but the medical mystery was solved.

Since then, I’ve been a big fan of Jason Smith.

As a pulmonologist, he sees many blood clot cases.  And in many of those cases, the patient can be treated with pulmonary thrombolysis or catheter-directed TPA.  The TPA is the drug that delivered through the catheter directly to the clot.

He says “the positives of this procedure are less medicine, less time, less effort, and less patient time.”

Smith also says the ER personnel are trained now to identify candidates for the procedure.

Clots can kill people.

The two big things I ignored were shortness of breath and a “tight spot” on my leg which didn’t go away.

If you have something that is out of the ordinary that is making you feel bad, or is making you feel like something isn’t right, call your doctor.