Lesson: obey warning signs

The short of it is that I’m in a hospital with a blood clot in my right lung.

The long of it is that I don’t have other blood clots, that I’m on blood thinners for awhile, and I’ll be fine. I might make it out by this afternoon, and I’ll even be able to get back to work by tomorrow and make VRM2008 and EIC2008 in Munich two weeks from now.

Meanwhile I’m having an educational tour of the health care system at Harvard and Cambridge. Very impressive, and reassuring.

This thing started with pain under my left shoulder blade on Saturday night that I assumed was a stretched muscle or something skeleto-muscular. It was uncomfortable but not debilitating. The next couple of days it spread to various places around my chest, so that breathing became a bit difficult at times, just because it was painful. Still, I felt otherwise okay. I didn’t suspect heart problems because just a few months ago I had a bunch of heart tests and came off looking quite good.

Then yesterday I had trouble finding a comfortable sitting position, because the pain, especially at the bottom back left of my rib cage, became too intense every time I breathed in.

So I called the health care center at Harvard Law School. The folks there were concerned just because “You’re sixty and have chest pains. That’s warning enough. Can you get in here, or should we send an ambulance?” I got in there, accompanied by the good Dr. Weinberger. The doctor there listened to my lungs, said things weren’t quite right — one of my lungs wasn’t moving air as well as the other — and ordered an ambulance.

Long story short, a CAT scan showed a “mid-size” blood clot in my right lung, plus the other stuff I said in the first two paragraphs. The only remaining mystery is the source of the blood clot, which additional tests they hope will eventually show. (Though they might not find out. If it came from a leg, there’s no remaining sign of one there now. Meanwhile, they need to eliminate other possibilities, including cancer somewhere, though they say the chance of that is low.)

Anyway, the warning sign I should have observed was the presence of chest pain that was clearly not the result of minor injury (such as stretching). When I pressed on pain locations, nothing happened, yet breathing normally was painful at those locations. Shoulda been a give-away that it was deeper than muscle or skeleton, meaning lungs.

Interesting discovery: pain from blood clots in lungs does not necessarily occur at the location of the clot. It can show up anywhere around the chest. That’s why it hurts in the lower left back side of my ribcage even thought he clot is in the upper part of my right lung.

I feel good enough to work here, though it’s not easy with tubes hooked up to one or both of my arms, at different times. So far this post has been interrupted more times than I can count, mostly with tests and other visits from medical folk. (Since this is a teaching hospital, I am a subject of sustained curiosity.) That’s why, even though I started writing this post around 6:30am, it’s now 9:43.

So I think I’ll just read some of the stuff that Nicco brought over (along with much more…the man is an ace), and hope that all this testing & stuff gets done enough for me to get out of here soon.

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47 Responses to Lesson: obey warning signs

  1. ouch! Does that mean you’re on a no-fly regime for a bit?

  2. ack…thin that blood! (and glad that nicco and morra are nearby!!)

  3. Tim Jarrett says:

    Geez, Doc. Take care of yourself, won’t you? Hope you feel better soon.

  4. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way, Doc. Get rid of that clot and feel better soon.

  5. Greg Hughes says:

    Thoughts are with you. Take your time and get well soon, Doc.

  6. Doc, just reading your travel schedule has always been exhausting, never mind the stress of lost peripherals and lousy Net access along the way. If this means a vacation in an easy chair, it could fall into the “something had to stop me” category. Sip lemonade and watch for daffodils, and get well. Being 60 ain’t easy.

  7. Mike Warot says:

    I’m glad you’re going to be ok, Doc. I can sympathize since I had my own wake up call last year, and I ain’t even 50 yet!

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  8. LenVT says:

    Doc – best wishes for a speedy recovery


  9. Geoff says:

    Wow Doc – good job you are living near such a centre of excellence. Hope that you are back to normal soon.
    Thanks for the tip btw With me being 60 as well….

  10. madame l says:

    Wishing you well.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Get well soon Doc!


  12. Chip says:

    Amen on the get better !

    Just had my annual and doctor thinks I’ll survive another year, or many …

    Thinkin of ya, and taking my asprin (blood thinner)


  13. Joe Crawford says:

    Take it easy! Sounds like you’re getting good care, which has to provide some great peace of mind.

    Be well!

  14. Been following you for some time, sending you good thoughts, be well.

  15. jeezz better not let the New York Times get ahold of that info Doc or they’ll be elaborating their previouis story on the dangers of blogging – once again ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Tom Lewis says:

    Doc, best wishes to you for a quick recovery!

  17. Doc,

    Glad to hear the caught it. Thank god they found something like that while you are on the ground and not at 30,000 feet with your rather hectic flying schedule.

    Get well soon.

  18. sims says:

    Hey Doc, is the food there worse or better than the conference venues you go to? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Seriously though, Boston is world class for hospitals. They’ll get you up and moving again soon.

    Take care of yourself dude.

  19. You are very lucky. I bet anything that clot originated somewhere else from your flying schedule. That’s one of the risks of flying: DVT.
    Feel better, and fly less. Take an aspirin before you fly.

  20. Mark says:


    Get well soon and remember physicians are first, professionals that address more complex problems for their patients than do practitioners of other occupations. Second, the knowledge and skills physicians use in addressing problems are: esoteric; require prolonged, supervised training; and can be harmful if used incorrectly. Third and finally, physicians must develop cognitive skills and ethical reasoning abilities not required of other occupations and use those esoteric skills and knowledge in handling complex problems.

    And they also use heparin made in China.

  21. Chip says:


    Daughter asked which hospital
    We’re in Los Alto now, but she delivered first grandchild at Beth Israel, said there are lots of good ones, maybe not Mass General.

    Take care, we need ya.

    Meanwhile, we’re glad you had it in your lung, not higher up


  22. I’ll write that down (warning signs) — thanks for the advice ๐Ÿ™‚

    You weren’t off-blog for long enough to be in the hospital very long, they must have great wifi or you’d have blogged about it, I’m thinking . . .

  23. Kevin Marks says:

    Warm thoughts for you from here. Look after yourself and get well soon

  24. Adriana says:

    All the best, Doc, speedy recovery. The world needs you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Andrew says:

    Good to hear everything is working out ok. Ditto Adriana: the world needs you.

  26. dweinberger says:

    Damn age. Damn bodies. Damn physics.

    Very VERY happy you’re doing so well.


    David W.

  27. Rex Hammock says:

    Doc, My thoughts are there with you. Take care. And thanks, as usual, for sharing knowledge learned from you experience. — Rex

  28. Srsly, Doc – this freaks me out. Good to know you’re on the mend…

    You should take some time to reflect on this, collecting your notes for what will likely become your Clot-train Manifesto?

  29. Serge says:

    Sorry to hear about the clot. Hope the recovery is a fast one. — Serge

  30. Avery says:

    Doc!! Get better. Make sure to get up and walk on those long flights.

    Delighted to hear that you are doing better

  31. Tracy Lee says:

    Hope you are feeling better soon! Blood clots can be scary, but it is usually after the fact since many don’t know they have them until they get to the dangerous point. You were very lucky you got care when you did. Blood clots in the lung can be fatal.

    Take Care!

  32. MiniMage says:

    And here I was thinking that a hospital bed with wifi would be a great place to get some blogging done, since fewer people would be asking me when I’m going to set up their new laptops (the ones that haven’t arrived yet) or remove the trojans they installed. Wait a second; you haven’t done a thing to convince me otherwise. Oh, well, take care, anyhoo!

  33. Rajesh Setty says:

    Doc, please take care of yourself and here are some more good wishes.


  34. Doc- hoping for a speedy recovery up here in Redmondland.
    Sending thoughts and prayers your way.


  35. John Quimby says:

    Doc – May God Speed your recovery!

    Your voice does me good. And my selfish nature wishes you speedy recovery.

    This seedy ol’ Unitarian knows when to call on Spirit for healing on all levels.

    My prayer is for your Highest Good Doc!

    If you get a song stuck in your head (as mine seems to do when illness and medicines are involved) may it be a nurturing call to inspiriation.

    And if the Universe mentions that you could travel less and write more – in a cozy old bathrobe from the comfort of your own time zone – pay attention!


  36. Tim says:

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Boy, you travel a lot. Hint.

  37. jeremy says:

    Get well soon Doc, don’t let the hospital get you down:)

  38. Edward Theobald says:


    Get well soon, dude!

    I do have one word for you – ‘nattokinase’. This stuff is blood clot magic. Seriously. It’s about the only good thing that comes from soybeans! Don’t do the rat poison – a.k.a. coumadin – at least not long term.

    Nattokinase is promoted by many truly wise medical doctors – like Dr. David Williams- and many other doctors that are as wise in preventative medicine as you are in what the net will be and can be.

    I wish you all the best!

  39. Tom Dolan says:

    Hope you’re feeling 100% again really quickly.

  40. Toby Moores says:

    Just saw Euan’s note on Twitter. Hope you get well soon. The Cluetrain has paused and awaits your return

    Cheers Toby

  41. Doc– Dr. Doug and I want you to get better– quick. I was on the no fly list for 3-4 months after little problem. Blood thinners are a bi!ch, Dr. Doug’s here to help dose you if you need a real clinical pharmacist! Hugs! Mary Lu

  42. Love you Doc, get well.

  43. Ton Zijlstra says:

    Take care Doc. Get well soon.

  44. Kraka says:

    I send you a get-well-soon-greating. I suddenly couldnยดt breath this mondaynight and they first thoght I also had a clot in the lung. But now they think it is neither a endocarditis or a heartinfarct. You are so right, it is important listen to the body and take the warningsigns serious.

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