Dying from blood clots in my lungs and maybe traveling to my heart and brain is not the way I want to go out. I’ve always imagined it’d be like Cleo in Set It Off, commanding the fire squad to unload on me. But there I was, hopping off the Peter Pan bus in Baltimore from New York City, with an aching leg, and shortness of breath.
“I should probably go to the hospital,” I told her.
A few minutes after 3am, the doctor comes in and says 5 blood clots were found in my lungs, and several in my leg, but they’re all probably old. I’ve been here before. Not in this hospital, but in this situation. Last time, however, there were more clots, and they were all new. My body isn’t producing Protein S and I travel too much, pretending to be a person with a body that does.
And then comes all the “sit your ass down” and “you need to stop traveling for a while” statements, and then here comes my sad face and desire to say, “if I die out here, understand I died doing what I loved.” But I won’t because these people care a great deal about me, and I don’t want to seem selfish. So I’ll just take better care of myself.
Listen here because it may save your life:
1. Being immobile for long periods of time will put you at great risk, especially if you are in a small, cramped space, such as the coach class of an airplane, a bus or train seat, and backseats on cross country trips. Hell, now that I’m mentioning these, I remember being in all three in the last 30 days.
2. Be sure that no matter where you are, you are moving around every so often. Get up from your seat and walk the aisles and stretch a bit.
3. Drink plenty of water, or coconut water (if you’re me and hate water).
4. Wear loose-fitting clothes. Yes, I know you want to be cute for your flight, but you always want to make it to the destination.
5. Get some travel-worthy compression socks. Make them look cool if you must.
6. Do not cross your legs.
There are several things to look for if you think you may have a clot:
A. Shortness of breath when you know you’re not out of shape.
B. Swelling of the leg, ankle, or calf. Some of us swell without clots, so don’t be too scared unless it doesn’t go back down like it normally does.
C. Redness of the skin, or an odd discoloration.
D. Increased warmth of the skin.
E. Coughing up blood.
F. Feelings of Anxiety
Bottom line, protect your veins and take great care of yourself because there’s a lot of world out there, and you deserve to see it all.
Darnell Lamont Walker, a self-professed traveling foodie, has been found sitting at tables eating baby goat sweetbreads, drinking tequila, and laughing loudly with strangers. The writer, filmmaker, artist, and sometimes photographer puts happiness above all.