“creeks in the darkness”

bridge over Rosebud River

bridge over the Rosebud River, April, 2016

I am currently at work on an essay about rivers and blood clots. An odd combination, I know, but I seem to have a clotting disorder (I’m waiting to see a hematologist for further tests) and it’s made me think a little more seriously about how our venous system works. How everything flows normally and then doesn’t. And of course that led me to think about rivers, the ones I love and return to, and how they change too for reasons that have some similarities to what happens with our veins. So it’s very absorbing, this essay, and I woke this morning with that kind of excitement I’ve always felt as I enter the deep waters of writing. It’s leading me to the north, to the MacKenzie River, where we were lucky enough to spend a few days in Fort Simpson at break-up, and to Englishman River, where I camped as a child and then as a young woman in desperate straits, and this morning to the Rosebud River as we drove it two springs ago very early and stopped at the aqua bridge between Wayne and Rosedale to listen to magpies. And in my mind is how to keep the various strands winding around each other, as the channels of braided rivers split and rejoin, as banks erode and are changed over years or centuries.

A deep cramping pain. Some swelling. In the Emergency room, my history is taken. Pulmonary embolism a year ago. Suspected deep vein thrombosis. 6 months of blood thinners. Many scans and tests.

A lab technician is called from his bed to take my blood for a d-dimer test to determine if there is active clot activity. An ultrasound is set for the next morning, though it is well into that morning when the technician draws blood from the pool of my right arm. I do not wait for the results because I want some sleep and the person in the other bed is on a powerful narcotic that makes her itchy, causes her to moan on her side of the screen that separates us. The medical staff is not happy I’m leaving.

We drive home on a dark highway. It’s a 45 minute journey and after 30 minutes the Emergency room physician phones me on my husband’s cell phone. In the car, the loud opening chords of “Sultans of Swing”, a moment when I regret he didn’t set his ring tone to something sweet—the Brahms lullaby or “That Sheep May Safely Graze”—as I struggle to stab in the right place to answer it. The physician tells me that my d-dimer test is positive for blood clotting, that I may have a DVT, and that I must return immediately to begin a course of anticoagulants.

As I’ll be coming in later in the morning for an ultrasound, I can’t just wait until then?”

No, I must insist you come back now.”

So we turn around and head back, my husband silent with weariness. He won’t let me drive. About halfway to the hospital, we see a large animal on the side of the highway. Not large like elk, which we see quite often. And not a coyote. Bigger than that. It takes a moment or two, and the glare of the animal’s golden eyes, for us to realize we’re seeing a cougar. I’ve lived on this peninsula for 35 years and I’ve seen just two cougars in that time. I’ve heard two more, I think, but sightings are rare.

All down the coast, we passed creeks in the darkness, Homesite, Meyer, Anderson, Maple, Haskins, scribbling down the mountains. And I would do it all again, sit at the desk with a nurse taking my pulse, my blood pressure, arranging for bloodwork, ultrasound, medication to prevent a blood clot moving up into my lungs, for the glow of the cougar’s eyes in our headlights, and the knowledge of water finding its way to the sea.

 

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~ by theresakishkan on January 29, 2018.

4 Responses to ““creeks in the darkness””

  1. Striking imagery, Theresa. I may have had a DVT, it isn’t certain because I can’t remember clearly enough. I had a PE about two weeks after travel but it was not discovered until after I went into cardiac arrest. Blood thinners are now a daily regime for me for the rest of my life. After struggling to maintain a balance on warfarin I’m now on a medication that self regulates. It gives me comfort to think of the flow being maintained when I do travel.

  2. Joe, it’s all very mysterious. Ultrasound was negative for DVT but it may be that it had moved elsewhere and the blood thinner dissolved it or something like that. Because we live so far from a hospital, I am back on the anticoagulants that don’t require regular monitoring. There’s some suggestion that I have an inherited clotting disorder (one sibling is also having tests for this) so who knows. We give it up to the gods and do our best.

  3. As always, your writing moves me deeply. It is these brief, transcendent moments, few and far between, that give meaning to all the rest. I celebrate them, as you clearly do. Thank you for sharing. Sorry to hear of your medical issues and hope that you have found an equilibrium of wellness. Warm regards.

    • Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Violet. The medical stuff is sorting itself out and my feeling right now is that it could be a lot worse! Diving into deep rivers to write about them and what they inspire is a great gift.

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