Toronto Mike

Cerebral Venous Thrombosis and Me

On Thursday afternoon, a headache came upon me seemingly out of nowhere. I don't typically get headaches, and this one felt different. I'd describe it as intense pressure, behind my eyes, my temples and around the back of my head.

I took a couple of pain killers and plowed through. Several hours later, I did that again. This was my weekend... the pain would get intense, and I'd attempt to chase it with Advils.

On Monday, you can hear me chatting up stand-up comic (and ironically full-time Registered Nurse) Zabrina Douglas. Let me know if I sound more confused than usual! Shortly after that recording, I met remotely with my family doctor who was concerned with how quickly the headache came on. "Go to St. Joe's emergency, wait 8 hours, and rule out a brain bleed".

I rode my bike to St. Joe's to do exactly that. The ER physician was confident it was merely a migraine, but he ordered a CT scan as requested by my doctor. Lo and behold, the CT scan showed a blood clot on my brain. The medical term is Cerebral Venous Thrombosis.

At this point on Monday evening, it was about 8pm and I was fully and completely ready to hear the CT scan was normal and I could hop on my bike and head home. I was shocked when the same doctor who was convinced it was merely a migraine told me I had this extremely rare blood clot. It's particularly rare in active younger men, because two of the primary causes are pregnancy and oral contraceptives!

Now that I had my diagnosis, the results were sent to a neurologist at St. Mike's who told the St. Joe's ER physician to admit me for the night for observation. For the first time since I was born, I was spending the night in hospital as the patient.

A few notes here...

  • that turkey salad sandwich I had at midnight Monday night was delicious - I was starving
  • my room wasn't available until 2am, so I was parked on a cot in the ER for a couple of hours
  • it's easy to complain about the healthcare system in this country, but I was seen by the triage nurse at 6pm, the ER physician at 7pm, and I had my CT scan and shots for the headache by 8pm. Had the CT scan come back negative, it would have been a 4 hour visit in total.
  • Over the span of 20 hours, I had the ER physician caring for me, a doctor devoted to my floor at St. Joe's, a neurologist who gave me serious face time and answered my many questions, and a hematologist - the system works, and I'm publishing this post from the comfort of my home
My breakfast on Tuesday morning - I legit enjoyed it

I'm reacting well to the blood thinner and will stay on that for a minimum three months, and longer depending how my follow-up with the hematologist goes. I'm also undergoing blood tests to see if I have inherited a propensity for blood clots.

Cerebral Venous Thrombosis affects 5 people in one million each year, typically women. I'm just that lucky.

Update: There is now an audio version of this story.

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