Prognosis: “He will live until he dies.” June 27th 2008 Diagnosis: Deep Vein Thrombosis

Niilo spent some 7 hours in the emergency room tonight, due to left leg swelling and new-onset calf pain.  Heather, then also Chena, and before discharge, Gary, were with him. He got his blood drawn again, a full-leg ultrasound, and a lung ultrasound to check for blood clots.  Results: No pulmonary embolus, but a deep vein thrombus (clot) the length of his leg.

The prognosis is not good: With a history of a bleed in the brain from January 2008 and high risk of falls, Niilo is a very poor candidate for blood thinners, the usual therapy.  Blood thinners also wouldn’t dissolve the clot, only prevent it from growing while allowing the body to gradually (months or more) dissolve it.  With or without anti-coagulants, there is still a substantial chance of a piece of clot breaking off and lodging in his lungs, very possibly fatally.  As the clot has surely been months in the making, timing of such an event is unpredictable, if it happens at all.

In the meantime, Niilo was cheerful this evening.  He had only a couple of transient bouts of pain, and seemed to enjoy the atmosphere, talking and laughing far more than usual.  He even stated that he understood the diagnosis and prognosis and accepts it.  At home, he asked me to stay with him for a while by his bed as he goes to sleep.

The doctors say life can go on as before, just elevating Niilo’s leg to heart level whenever he’s not actively doing something.  The swelling and episodic pain may or may not get worse.  About how long Dad may be with us, the doctor said, “I predict he’ll live until he dies.”  What more can we ask for?  If Dad is as cheery most of the rest of his days as he was today with this stuff going on, he’s a lucky man.


2 replies on “Prognosis: “He will live until he dies.” June 27th 2008 Diagnosis: Deep Vein Thrombosis”

  1. Wow! This is something else again! A stunner to which it’s hard to say anything. But I’m so glad he’s carrying on as usual with his humor and morale-lifting humanity. That’s Niilo! I’ll check the reports daily. Love, Harry

  2. Guess it’s time to stop lurking and start participating.

    I’m not sure what I’m more impressed with, Niilo’s amazing mental abilities (see Dick Farris’s comments on Niilo’s reading and listening techniques) or his resilient spirit. Both are wonders.

    Please let him know that old friends in far away, exotic, rainy places are thinking of him and wishing him the best. Ditto for the rest of the family. Heather and Chena, thanks for keeping us all posted.

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