Two hundred and sixteen pounds, that's what I weigh today; and I'm not happy.

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matt Bright
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
On July 12 my elliptical broke. The bar that attaches the right leg to the flywheel snapped off. It was a little creaky since the day we bought it - it was the floor model at the Base Exchange, but after seven months of continual use, the bar gave way. Later that day my left calf was a little tender - I thought I had pulled something. At the Base Exchange, I asked how I could get the machine repaired; the manager said he would look for the replacement parts. That works for me.

The following day, I had to be in early for work - I was filming the wing change of command ceremony. For any of you who participated or attended the event, I was the bag-o'-donuts Airman pouring out of his blues up front with the video camera. I thought I looked good until I caught a full-length reflection of myself in a cabinet right before the ceremony started. I apologize to everyone who had to look at my bulbous frame leaking out of my clothes. Oh, and my leg was still hurting.

Self-deprecation aside, the next morning, I went for a run around my town. It was somewhere around two miles, but I've never measured the distance, so I can't be sure. It felt good to get outside and work out and my heart rate monitor hit 185 beats per minute in less time than it takes on the elliptical. I had, what felt like, the same workout in half of the time...of course, I wasn't into repeating the feat. I went inside, turned on Family Guy, stretched then got ready for work.

My runs went well the rest of the week, except the last day, when I was doing my cool-down stretch. The top of my left leg (near my shin bone) was swollen, both red and purple at the same time and very painful. I went to sick call.

"Thrombosis" is what the doctor said. I was told to take some new medications - including an antibiotic for the infection/swelling, elevate my leg as much as possible, use a hot compress twice a day and to stay mobile, but I was not allowed to work out. Oh, and I had to make an appointment to see a specialist at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. The computers were down at the medical group, so I would have to schedule the appointment the following week.

During some down time between events I was filming, I called my wife and told her what the doctor said. She didn't sound happy; but, as the day went on, her tone of voice worried me. It made me question what exactly everything meant.

At the second event, I stopped the new medical group commander and asked what "thrombosis" is. He looked at me as if I had just asked him what oxygen was. Needless to say, he politely asked if a family member or I had it. I replied, that I had been diagnosed that morning. He said for me to do exactly as the doctor had prescribed.

My wife and I had a fight that night. By way of Wikipedia, she showed me what "thrombosis" is in plain English - a blood clot. In tears, she questioned how I could be so nonchalant about the whole thing and told me a family member died in the shower after the blood clot in her arm broke free and caused a heart attack.

I explained I could only do what that doctor said.

A few days after Tricare put the request in, Landstuhl said to see a doctor off base. The next duty day, I went to see my Primary Care Manager for a separate issue and when the technician asked why I was on new medicines, I told her about my leg. She asked to see it, then immediately headed out the door to find my doctor. Great!

My PCM took one look at my leg, wrote a waiver prohibiting me from running for the next three months and said I needed to get an ultrasound of my leg as soon as possible. Tricare booked an appointment at the Sankt Elisabeth Krankenhaus in Wittlich for the next morning. They scanned my leg, from my hip to my foot, and said I needed to have the vein that runs the whole length (and some varicose sections that twist around my calf) removed...also, as soon as possible. I go into surgery in a few days.

So here I am. I'm four pounds heavier than I was the last time you heard from me. My wife says she's cutting back on my sugar and carbohydrates, but says I'm not allowed to go back on Atkins; all because of the clot - and not being allowed to work out much. It's possible, but with limited cardio options, I just don't want to get fat(ter) again. I met with the Health and Wellness Center and was given a workout prescription along with a longer profile. I can do cardio after the surgery, but my heart rate cannot go above 129 beats and I'm limited to walking, swimming, and light bicycle and elliptical use.

When I come off convalescent leave, I'm heading to the states for a class and then to visit family for a few weeks, followed by a trip to Landstuhl for reconstructive surgery on my shoulder. I'll write from the road and keep you posted.