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Sunday, March 10, 2019

When legs simply do not show up 10 – “The External Iliac Artery Endofibrosis Fix 3”

The last time I documented my road towards fixing my blood flow issues was in June 2018 and the post was titled “When legs simply do not show up 9 – “The Fix 2””. At the time I had only done one procedure on my right side and I presented a diagram of what my scars look like.
And so what has happened since? A lot! I now have almost identical scars on the left hand side and the “artwork” is now complete; the sides are now almost mirror images.

On the 31st of July 2018, six weeks after the first procedure, I was back on the operating table to get my left side fixed. It was supposed to be an easier operation, except I had two very unfortunate challenges that sort of shook me. First up, the day after the operation, my body was unable to build up my haemoglobin to normal levels – and so I battled with extreme lack of energy, so bad I could not even raise a finger. And because I did not know what was wrong, I thought I was going to die. I drifted in and out of sleep and when awake, I could hear what was going on around me but I could not talk. It was a very difficult few hours. I was given a huge iron dose through the drip but I was responding so slow to it that eventually decisions had to be made about getting a blood transfusion. After hours waiting for my blood and tissue match, and 3 pints of blood later, my energy levels were restored and I was allowed to go home the next day.

Then a few days after I was discharged I was attacked by flu!! I endured two successive days and nights of no sleep but it was when I started getting fever that I felt I needed to see my surgeon. I was hugely concerned that I might have post-operative pneumonia or some other related condition but mostly I needed more pain medication. The coughing and the sneezing came with such excruciating pain I was nearly passing out every time that happened. I spent most of the day in hospital doing x-rays, waiting for test result and working with the physiotherapist to help me dislodge the phlegm that was causing the cough. And eventually when the fever subsided, I was allowed to go home (same day) but with stronger pain medication to help me wither the flu storm.

I had a strong suspicion that these two incidents had a lot to do with the state of my physiology at the time of the operation. I was going through a particularly challenging time at work in the run-up to the operation – long hours, fire-fighting – and some team issues in the mix too. And so, after my operation, I was forced to also think about being realistic in terms of how long I can sustain that level of physical and mental demand from my job without impacting my health in the long run.

That aside, on the 17th of August 2018, I started my training in earnest – anticipating a slow return to the performance levels I have last seen in 2014 - and that day I completed a distance of 1.5 km on the treadmill in 30 minutes, with a bit of a limp and a great feeling of achievement!!


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