On the verge of retiring from the awesome position as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has developed a blood clot and is in a New York hospital being treated with anti-coagulants. Those are the only details I’ve heard as of this morning: they’re slowly given out one at a time. In the first report I heard she had a clot; in the second report she was in the hospital; and in the third she was taking meds. This method of feeding bits and pieces to a hungry public makes it hard to know exactly how serious her condition is.
Over on NPR’s Facebook Page you can get an idea of the possibilities from people posting their experiences with blood clots, ranging from a minor glitch to sudden death. My father died indirectly because of one: in 1975 he developed a clot while flying with his legs crossed; the doctors told him this was at least partly responsible, and said that when flying long distances people should get up and walk about at least once an hour. Have you noticed the way all the airline companies took this information to heart and began building planes to accommodate our health needs?
My father’s clot hit his lung. He was prescribed Coumidin, an anti-coagulant, or blood thinner. But my dad was something of a macho guy deep down–I say ‘deep down’ because up until now I hadn’t seen any macho behavior from him. Taking a pill every day, however, made him feel weak, less of a MAN. So after five years of the utter humiliation of ingesting medicine every day, he stopped. Just up and stopped, without consulting with his doctor or anyone else. This was in 1979 just before the holidays. When I saw him on Thanksgiving his fingers were turning blue and he was in pain. I told him to go see his doctor, and he said he would.
I don’t know if he ever did go see the doctor, but a short time later he had a heart attack and went into the hospital. Three weeks later he was dead. It was January 2, 1980. His illness pretty much covered the season, from Thanksgiving through New Years. He was 64 years old, and the kind of guy whose blood pressure skyrocketed when he drove in traffic, so a heart attack wasn’t entirely out of the question. Still, nobody can tell me the heart attack wasn’t caused by the sudden cessation of a blood thinning agent. Obviously his heart went into shock from the withdrawal. I asked the doctor about it, and he said oh no, that had nothing to do with it. What bullshit! Doctors will never ever blame their potions for anything, even when it was not taking them that caused the problem! I mean, I wasn’t planning on suing the drug company–or him!
In any case, that’s my experience and knowledge of blood clots. Not a happy story. I was 33 and had never lost anyone close to me before. My father’s parents were still alive, in their 80′s, and I will never forget the sight of my hysterical grandmother being practically carried into the funeral home. It was a great shock to everyone, especially since my father was much beloved by family, friends, and co-workers.
I hope Hillary’s experience is nothing like my father’s, that her story is closer to those I read online by people who took their meds and survived blood clots without a hitch in their lives or even their schedules. After all the bragging others have done on her behalf for logging umpteen thousands of flying hours, I hope she hasn’t made the ultimate sacrifice for her job.