Sunday, May 26, 2013

Abbreviations:To Your Health

    Some abbreviations are acronyms, that is, they can be spoken as words such as Radar for RAdio Detection And Ranging. Some are initialisms where the pronunciation as written would be difficult such as LCPD or LGH. (Wikipedia has an excellent entry on the subject of “Acronyms”).

    The health initialisms everybody should know are DVT, PAD and COPD. DVT is particularly important because it stands for the silent killer Deep Vein Thrombosis or blood clot. It was a DVT that killed newsman David Bloom when it broke loose and moved into his lung as a pulmonary embolism (PE).

    David’s wife, Melanie, has taken the tragedy of his death as an opportunity to inform everyone she can about this largely unknown killer of as many as 200,000 people in this country alone. That’s about 10 percent of those who develop a DVT and that death rate is more than AIDS and breast cancer combined. (Check the news article on and search for DVT or David Bloom legacy.)

    From the article, “risk factors include injury, surgery, illness, pregnancy, SMOKING [emphasis added by me], and prolonged immobility” as in driving over-the-road in a truck or sitting in one position without moving your legs for a long time.

    I was an over-the-road truck driver for ten years and I smoked 2 to 3 packs of cigarettes a day. I had a DVT 12 years ago. I also was diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder) and PAD (Peripheral Artery Disease) both of which resulted from or were worsened by my cigarette smoking.

    I was spared. My DVT didn’t become a PE or a migratory missile winding up in some other damaging location. My dear sister, Bonnie, was not as fortunate. In 1972, multiple PE’s killed her.

    Even though I am smoke free now for more than 6 years, the damaging effects of being a long term smoker are still affecting me. The PAD has resulted in circulatory insufficiency which allows blood and other fluids to accumulate in my lower extremities and set up the conditions ripe for a stasis (stagnation in the normal flow of bodily fluids) ulcer.

    That is the apparent reason for my third occurrence of a leg ulcer. It’s similar to the open sores suffered by some diabetics. This type of ulcer is resistant to healing and calls for immediate medical attention preferably by a wound care specialist. I am immeasurably grateful to nurse Nancy and the doctors in the Wound Care Clinic of the Lebanon VA hospital for their patient, caring treatment of their patient, me.

    Even with all the foregoing, I have to say I still wish for a smoke every day even after all this time. A cigarette in hand was a friend for decades and the bond was an addiction that non-smokers can’t begin to understand. I am not now nor will I ever become one of those holier than thou, rabid, crusading ex-smokers out to “cure” everybody of their habit. If you got ‘em, smoke ‘em. But be informed — bad things can happen.
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