Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Tuesday Trip Report: Small Hikes with a Clogged Vein

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor or a nurse practitioner.  If you have a DVT, then discuss what you should and should not do in terms of activity, etc. with your licensed doctor (MD) and his/her medical team (registered nurses and nurse practitioners).  The following relates how I am dealing with my own DVT.  It is in no way a recommendation of how you should or should not deal with your personal medical situation.

Last week, I was diagnosed with a DVT (deep vein thrombosis -- blood clot).  I've been down this road before; you can read this post if you want to know my personal medical history.

This time around, the clot is not occupying every single major vein in my left leg and pelvic region...that's good, anyway.  It's "only" stretched out along my common femoral vein, and it's keeping itself to the sides of the vessel instead of blocking the entire passageway.  It's a kinder, gentler clot.

I've been on Lovenox for a week (tummy shots and headaches and bruising, oh my!) while they figure out my proper does of Coumadin (the pill I'll take forever and ever, amen).  My long-term outlook is maybe good, maybe bad.  Coumadin will keep my blood thinned so another DVT shouldn't form, but I'll bleed like a hemophiliac every time I scrape my knee.  Oh well, there are worse things to deal with.

Given all of the above, I had to take it easy last week.  At first, there was a (very slight) chance part of the clot could break off and travel to my heart, lungs, or brain (embolism).  Therefore, the girls and I decided to walk/hike short trails that were near populated areas.  Research suggests that there's no difference in risk of embolism between groups of recently diagnosed patients who stay home immobilized and groups who walk daily, and that the risk for post-thrombotic syndrome is slightly lower in the active group.  I'm already dealing with post-thrombotic syndrome from my previous clot, and I don't want to deal with it to a greater degree in the years to come...so no staying home for me, thanks.  Besides, if I'm going to have an embolism, I'd rather have it surrounded by trees than while sitting on my easy-chair staring at the ceiling.  However, it was important to keep the kids in a position where they could easily get help if a situation were to turn sour.

Church Pond Trail, 2.2 miles roundtrip -- June 14, 2012

A flat one mile (one way) hike that starts in a campground -- sounds perfect for my situation, yes?  The trailhead is right next to the caretaker's RV.  Should have been just the thing.

Right away, one is presented with a river to cross.  No stepping stones, just take off the boots and wade (or swim, if the water's high and the current is slow).  The girls and I found this enjoyable, so no big deal.  Took me less than 30 seconds to get across.

The trail to the pond isn't too difficult to follow, though one might be confused by the intersections if one hasn't read the White Mountain Guide.  Stick to the left part of this old loop trail -- the east section is closed.  You'll feel like you're going straight.

Once close to the pond, things get nasty for one or two tenths of a mile.  Once upon a time, when the bog bridges were maintained, this must have been a gorgeous trail.  Now, however, it's a big swamp with old wood and rusty nails sticking out of deep, thick mud.  The girls and I persevered, dodged the nails, and reached our destination, which was a scenic knoll overlooking Church Pond.  A lone turtle stood in the center of the clearing, though he did a quick imitation of a rock when Max (our border terrier) approached him.  It was a lovely spot, but one has to go through literal hell and high water to get there.

If you'd like to get a feel for this trail, then pick the nearest swamp and walk right through it.  In other words, unless you're redlining, I recommend skipping this one.

Lovequist Loop, 1 mile loop by Rocky Gorge Scenic Area -- June 16, 2012

Perfect little loop trail around a pond.  Immediately next to a tourist spot, which makes it ideal for those who would like to enjoy nature but stay close to civilization.  Easy trek. 

Fletcher's Cascades, 3.5 miles roundtrip -- June 17, 2012

Spent Father's day with MadRiver and Susan.  Visited this waterfall -- it was nice to venture a little deeper into the woods.

Moose Brook State Park -- all the trails -- June 18, 2012

With every day that goes by, the chances of an embolism diminish (so says my medical team).  Since I've been given the okay to keep getting out there, I decided to go solo yesterday.  Still, I wanted to stick to relatively easy trails and stay within cell reception of various folks who are looking after me.  Moose Brook State Park fit the day's bill, so I redlined all the trails (4-5 miles).  Leg felt great until I got back to the car, then it swelled up on the way home (to be expected).

Within a week or so, I should be able to pursue most White Mountain trails.  The chances of a clot breaking off are already minimal.  What I need to be careful of, now and forever, is falling, since I'll bleed and bruise easily. 

That's the scoop -- next week, I'll have a traditional trip report with photos of the girls enjoying a mountaintop.

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