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The Second Precursor: My Blood Thinner Experience | The Tales of a Stroke Patient | Joyce Hoffman

Author Joyce Hoffman
Author Joyce Hoffman

[Editor’s note: This article is second in the series, The Tales of a Stroke Patient. You can access the other articles here.]

I went to the closest hospital on Sunday before noon, and now it was Monday, 1:30 am. I was still in the ER. A room was finally available. The nurse assigned to my care told me the story about her sister who developed a stroke when she was an infant.

I don’t know why she told me that story. It was, after all, the middle of the night, and I was tired. But she was trying to prepare me, and I didn’t get it. A stroke wasn’t in my frame of reference. Not at all.

During the next two days, I was given more blood tests, but the tests were few and far between. So I just laid in the hospital bed watching television. The nurse would come in and ask me if I wanted anything, and I started to feel like I was on vacation. I continued not to get it.

At one point, a hematologist, assigned by the hospital, put me on Lovenox, an injectable blood thinner, for thirty days, at a twice-a-day dose totaling 160 mg, to break up the clots. I received instructions from the nurse on how the needle worked. Also, I was still dangerously low in my platelet count. The doctor thought I needed to address both the clots and low platelets and said to follow up with a hematologist in Philadelphia.

On April 1, the hospital released me and I drove myself home. On the way, I picked up the Lovenox at the pharmacy. I also stopped for Chinese comfort food as a distraction from the pain which was still there and constant.

Over the next two days, I saw an improvement in the pain level (or I wanted to believe the pain was decreased via the power of suggestion). On the afternoon of the second day, I found a hematologist in Philadelphia. When my blood was assessed while I was still in his office, my platelet count was still low, though he agreed with the dose and the length of time for the Lovenox.

I thought to myself, in an optimistic way, the clots would go away, and I had narrowly escaped something that would throw my life is disarray. Besides, this wasn’t a good time to miss work, with events coming up, one after the other. It’s never a good time to miss work. Never when you love it.

But I wouldn’t have the thirty days of Lovenox after all. The stroke was only five days away.

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