"You can eat whatever you want, but virtually no green leafy vegetables, especially spinach and kale" the Doctor explained to me this past Sunday. She went on to say "You need to avoid any change in your normal Vitamin K intake for at least the next nine months" and then finished with "if you don't, the medicine won't work". No further explanation needed Doctor, I'll do as you insist. And so, for the last two days I have been pouring over websites and resources to find where the Vitamin K is, and therefore control it. Hopefully by the time I get home from the hospital I will know all I need to know about the topic.
And how did I end up here in the first place? About a week ago, I noticed that something felt a little different. My chest hurt a bit when I breathed deeply, and I seemed to be a little short of breath. Washington has had such a mild winter, I first thought it was the onset of spring and a few allergies. By Friday I could no longer chalk it up to allergies, so wrapped up in the afternoon and headed to the emergency room because a call to my regular doctor ended when she heard "chest pain and shortness of breath" in the same sentence. Go to Emergency she said! So I did, and again after uttering those same six words, was ushered directly in. Only then did I realize being brought to the front of the line in the ER wasn't a good thing.
Turns out I had a clot, a PE, "Pulmonary Embolism" to be exact, and more than just one. I was to be admitted, immediately medicated and with little chance of going home for a while. That was several days ago and I hope to be out tomorrow, albeit with a heck of a wake up call. This is also very common, and represents the third most comon cause of death of hospitalized patients. So far, I am pretty lucky, but how did this happen?
I am a frequent traveler and as all frequent travelers know, long inactive flights can cause blood clotting. Get up, move about, flex your legs, keep your blood flowing is what I, and most of my seatmates try to do. But it has been quite a while since I have been on a long flight, so that is not the immediate answer. Other causes are leg swelling, blunt trauma, and a descending list of other possibilities, none of which apply to me. A mystery for now, but I have a whole team of doctors on it.
In the meantime, it's back to Vitamin K and the drug Coumadin, my now daily intake for the next 6-9 months. The list of foods I need to watch out for is vast, and far more inclusive than just leafy green vegetables. The usuals like kale, spinach and mustard greens are on the list, but so is edamame and soy milk. No tabouleh anymore, parsley has the most Vitamin k at 984 mcg per cup. I see this as a great opportunity to plan meals around limited Vitamin K, as I am surprised to learn how many others are under the same doctor's orders. It's funny, up until now I have spent more time trying to work in the use of green, especially leafy green, vegetables, into meals because of their clear health benefits. Now, add the limited greens Coumadin diet to the list! I will be blogging about this occasionally, and would love to hear any ideas from the thousands I know to be going through the same thing.
What's on YOUR plate today? On mine, it's roasted carrots and fingerling potatoes.
Very glad to hear you're doing better. I had a buddy with the same condition recently. It was amazing how his symptoms started mild (but painful) like yours. They actually seemed to get _worse_ the first few days in the hospital (we tend to think things will get better as soon as they slap that BP cuff on us and put in an IV). The good news is, he seems well on the road to recovery now (minus the leafy greens as well).
Four years ago I had a sore lower leg pain and chalked it up to the standing on my feet all day job or the getting older pains. My 5 year daughter at the time finally convinced me to go a doctor. That's when I discovered I had a blood condition called Factor V Leiden. As a home gardener and chef it was intimidating to hear no more spinach or chard. But I realized from my blood tests that I review with my doctor, I can eat green leafy vegetables and other vitamin K foods as long as I don't change the pattern of my diet drastically and check my levels and adjust the dosage when appropriate. With focused attention to diet, these green leafy vegetables can still be enjoyed.
That's what's on my plate.
- John Freezee
Kale? No kale? Kale is my favorite vegetable. Followed closely by spinach. And did I mention my love of soy?
Kale was one of the vegetables we never did get to cook (at least not so far) at school (I'm a culinary school student), but I will think of you when we do.
Wishing you a speedy, leafy green-free recovery!