Obviously, I’m not quite dead yet or I couldn’t be writing this piece. However, the odds that I will survive the next few months may be no better than 50/50. In case this turns out to be my last blog post, I’d like to explain why I think the current COVID protocols led directly to my death. [Spoiler alert, although there are parallels, this post has nothing to do with Ivermectin or some of the other popular, but highly controversial COVID therapeutics currently frowned upon by the medical community.]
Let me first define what “protocols” are and are not. Protocols are a set of guidelines, they are not rules or laws. Medical protocols describe “best practices”, a series of medical actions and treatments that have been determined by a group of medical “experts” to provide the patient with the best chance for recovery. While medical protocols are intended to provide the best chance for a positive outcome, that is not always the case.
Unfortunately, the practice of medicine has become less about the individual patient and more about following a set of pre-determined procedures. The majority of medical providers have become so protocol oriented that they are afraid to act outside of protocol, or in addition to protocol, for fear of reprisal from their HMO’s or hospital administrators who are overly concerned with lawsuits. The result is that individualized treatment plans and physician discretion have taken a backseat to industry standards that define and limit patient treatment. This equates to a “one size fits all” mindset.
“A medical protocol is considered to be a set of predetermined criteria that define appropriate nursing interventions that articulate or describe situations in which the nurse makes judgments relative to a course of action for effective management of common patient care problems.”
Well, let’s shift gears. A few months ago the talking heads on T.V. told us that just about everyone on the planet is going to get COVID OMICRON, especially as it became more and more apparent that this latest COVID variant makes no distinction between the vaxxed and the unvaxxed, or between those who have had COVID infections previously, and those who have not. My immediate family is unvaxxed, and after miraculously escaping COVID for two full years, [we’ve been taking Vit D and zinc], my wife and daughter finally tested positive in the middle of January, 2022. Judging by their mild symptoms, they most likely had the Omicron variant, (or “Omnicrud” as I like to call it.)
I too developed COVID symptoms, but mine were far worse than either my daughter or my wife. Both of them recovered fairly quickly while I continued on a downward trajectory. After a brief phone consultation with a nurse from my health care provider’s office, it was decided that I should go to the local Urgent Care or Emergency Department to have an X-ray to determine the extent of my infection. I wasn’t breathing well at all by this time, and ED staff immediately began administering oxygen. An anti-coagulant was also administered to prevent blood clots. Long story short, I was diagnosed with COVID pneumonia and admitted to the hospital.
I spent two sleepless nights in the hospital’s “COVID WARD”. During my hospital stay, a CT scan was also administered. At every step in the process, I was told that preventing the development of blood clots, especially for someone like me who checked all the boxes as “high risk”, was their #1 concern. (My elevated risk factors for developing clots included my age (66), hypertension, and polycystic kidney disease.) While keeping me oxygenated was a priority, an anti-coagulant injection was also administered every six hours. In fact, it is actually considered “protocol” for patients to receive anti-coagulants while they are hospitalized with severe COVID or COVID pneumonia.
Well, I don’t want to bore the reader with details about my nightmarish hospital stay, so let me just say that my breathing and oxygen intake improved somewhat over the next 24-36 hours and I was discharged to finish my recovery at home. My at home treatment plan included prescriptions for a steroid (five days), a cough suppressant, an albuterol inhaler, and of course, oxygen. I was also advised to continue with Vit D and zinc. A blood thinner was never discussed with me and was not prescribed. I was told later by my personal health care provider that was because blood thinners are not part of the post hospitalization COVID protocol.
My question for those who create these so-called “protocols” is this…. If preventing blood clots from forming was a major concern at the hospital, why was I not prescribed at least a preventive dose of a blood thinner after being sent home? Did being wheeled out of the hospital door somehow eliminate my risk for clotting? Keep in mind, ten days after being discharged from the hospital my symptoms had not improved very much at all. I was still experiencing extreme fatigue and couldn’t walk across the room without supplemental oxygen. At that point I feared I might have what they call, “long COVID”. I didn’t know that something even more troublesome, and potentially more deadly, was in store.
On February 7th, nine days after I was discharged from the hospital, I went in for a follow up exam with my primary care physician. He listened to my lungs and ordered a routine blood work up. He did not think it necessary to administer a d-dimer test (a common test to determine clotting risk) or have me undergo an x-ray or CT scan. He told me that my continuing breathing difficulty was due to “lingering inflammation”, a common COVID symptom that could last a long time. He was not able to predict a timeline for recovery. He actually said, “I don’t have a crystal ball”.
Less than a week later I developed a large deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my right leg and once again found myself in the Emergency Department. An ultra sound confirmed the diagnosis and I was immediately placed on a strong anti-coagulant drug called Heparin. The drug is administered through an IV and must be closely monitored by nursing staff.
I was admitted to the hospital where a mechanical intervention to suck out the clot was scheduled for the following day. Unfortunately a CT scan conducted that evening threw a wrench into the equation. The mechanical intervention to remove the DVT in my groin/leg was cancelled due to discovery of multiple “clot burdens” that had formed in my lungs. The respiratory specialist that had been scheduled to do the mechanical intervention came in to my room the next morning and told me that the best course of action would be to transition me from the IV Heparin to a pill form of a blood thinner that I could take at home.
So they sent me home. I’m pleased to report that at this moment, I’m still alive. The COVID is long gone, but the painful DVT in my leg and the clot burden in my lungs remain. The blood thinner I’m going to be taking for at least the next six months is supposed to prevent any more clots from forming, but it does nothing to dissolve the clots I already have. That’s something my body needs to do on its own, over time. The major risk of course is that the DVT, or a piece of it, could break loose and create a pulmonary embolism. Any loose clot fragments that find their way into my brain will induce a stroke. Either way, the prospects for a full and complete recovery don’t look so good from my vantage point.
So here’s the bottom line. There is a ton of data out there and plenty of research showing that folks in my risk category (age and noted pre-existing conditions) have a significantly increased risk of heart attack and stroke post COVID due to the formation of blood clots. So why isn’t the use of a preventative blood thinner following hospitalization even being discussed with most patients? The answer, of course, is because that doesn’t jive with current COVID protocols.
Well maybe the current protocols are in need of revision, ya think? While blood thinners themselves are not without risks, it is a fact that anti-coagulants are an integral part of treatment for nearly all hospitalized COVID patients. Clotting risk should be shown more concern and the continued use of blood thinners post hospitalization should be discussed as an option, especially for COVID pneumonia patients who have struggled for weeks to recover at home and/or have increased risk factors.
If there’s one thing I would like to tell the medical community it is that I am not a “protocol”, I am an individual. In my case, the development of blood clots post COVID pneumonia was not only probable and predictable, it was quite possibly preventable. Am I angry? Yeah, more than a little bit. But whining about the “what ifs” and “why nots” won’t do me any good at this point. The reason I wanted to post my story is so that it might be a benefit to others, or possibly even save someone else’s life. COVID is still a relatively new disease. New variants may continue to emerge. Omicron may not be the final stage. The protocols surrounding COVID need to become a lot more flexible to handle current and future infections. Physicians should not be totally constrained by entrenched protocols or made to follow the herd. At some point, the patient doctor relationship, broken as it now seems to be, needs to be made whole again. Trust needs to be re-established between the medical services “consumer” and the “provider”.
As for death possibly knockin’ on my door sometime soon, I know the Lord has numbered my days. He knows how long I will continue breathing and how many times my heart is going to beat. If Jesus wants to take me home today or tomorrow, I’m perfectly okay with that.
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