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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Real Life: Is your Health in Danger? Lanai Jarrico Reporting...

Long term sitting in front of a computer screen playing Second Life can kill you!

If this headline didn’t grab your attention, perhaps you could care less that something inside your body could be slowly building up a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) leading to a blood clot in your lungs, heart or brain also known as a pulmonary embolism.

Most people that are aware of these dangers usually associate this threat with travellers on airplanes and even office workers. The risks to Second Life © residents that spend hours upon hours sitting in the same position, are very real and dangerous.

Recently, I interviewed a Second Life © residents that wished to remain anonymous but wanted to share her story in hopes she can save a life and spread awareness to the dangerous many may not be aware of. “Jane’s” ordeal began when she thought she had bumped her leg. Her symptoms were redness, swelling and immense pain. Jane saw her doctor and was immediately rushed by ambulance to the hospital where she was saved from what could have been a very tragic situation.

Interview with Jane Doe

Lanai: Hi Jane, thank you for sharing this personal story with our readers. I’m sorry to hear this happened to you. I think if your story saves at least one life, we have done our job. Let’s begin with how often you logged into Second Life.

Jane: I was here a lot. In fact, I was here I'd say a good 15 hours a day.

Lanai: Wow, that is a long time. How has your time in Second Life changed since?

Jane: Now I am very careful to wear my socks when I'm at the computer! Lol my Avi wears stockings, I wear very unglamorous DVT socks. I do not log in for hours anymore and I take a break every half hour or so to move around. I drink a lot of water. No idea why, but they told me to. I also am aware I have to move my feet frequently into another position and to make sure I am not applying pressure on the side of the desk. I walk my dog every day for a good long walk which the Dr. recommended.

Lanai: I’m not a doctor but I think they recommend a lot of water to keep you hydrated, your organs and joints functioning, as well as your blood flowing as it should.
When did you notice something was wrong?

Jane: The pain in my leg was getting worse and worse, to the point really where I could hardly stand on it. I had never heard of anybody die of a swollen leg, so I continued to ignore it, thinking I'd knocked it or something.

Lanai: I think for diabetics, that is an indication of circulation problems and should certainly be checked out and not ignored. I always thought fevers were a good indicators that something is wrong. What were your symptoms?

Jane: No fever at all. just the leg was really swollen and painful. The skin was very shiny and felt tight. Had I lived in the states, I think it might not have been dissimilar symptoms to being bitten by a snake.

Lanai: No fever? That is what makes this a bit more eye opening! How long was your leg in that state before you visited the doctor?

Around 3 days, it got to the point where I couldn't walk at all. I tried to get to the car to get to an appointment at the local surgery and it was evident I wasn't going to be able to drive or happen so arranged for the Dr to visit me at home. He saw me that afternoon. In the hospital they told me that he had saved my life. The awful truth is that he did. He took one look at my leg and rang an ambulance.

Lanai: That is frightening! Where you admitted to the hospital right away?

The ambulance came straight away and I was admitted and seen almost immediately. They gave me a scan that is similar to those pregnant women receive. I had to have some very painful injections with a needle the size you'd probably use on an elephant. The bruising was horrific as is usual with this injection I found out later. I continued daily with the injections, but as I'm diabetic they let me do them myself, which saved visits from the district nurse. I was started on Warfarin which is the same drug they use to kill rats. Warfarin is particularly nasty, it interacts with everything and stops me taking a lot of drugs that I could have before..for example Cranberry juice and Ibuprofen are now out! Within a week I was able to walk again.

Lanai: Ultrasounds, probing needles and rat poison!?! You went through a major ordeal. How long was your hospital stay?

Jane: Before patients were usually kept in the hospital and closely monitored. Due to a lack of hospital beds, they now prefer to send us home. It is scary knowing you might die once you get there.

The good news is that it is very treatable, providing that it has not become a pulmonary embolism, where the formed clot breaks off and heads its way to the heart, lungs or brain. This is nearly always fatal and is what tends to get reported in the news for instance when people have been on long haul flights. The airlines at first were getting the blame but it's since been proved that in fact it is the lack of mobility on the plane and people crammed into tiny spaces in an already pressurised environment that is the biggest factor. Now it is advisable to travel with special socks on long flights and to exercise your legs and most airlines carry details of how to do this. Interestingly enough, the incidence of this happening in first class/business class flight is significantly lower than in economy, where the amount of room you receive is minimal to say the least.

I understand that with a clot reaching the lungs, you will get shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, I am not sure of the other symptoms, unless medical help is sought straight away. Your chances of survival are fairly minimal, depending on the size of the clots.

Lanai: Thank you for that wealth of information on the symptoms associated with this problem. What was your official diagnosis?

Jane: Deep vein thrombosis also known as DVT

Lanai: How common is DVT?

Jane: This is unfortunately becoming more and more common and sadly too in the very young who now seem to spend more and more time at their computers. Most DVTs go unreported in the media as they are very common, it is the pulmonary embolism that results when the clot from a dvt breaks off that usually makes the headlines because there is very little you can do about that if it gets into any of the vital organs and the result is usually fatal. People need to stand up away from their computers regularly, they need to negate the immobility of jobs that are sedentary in nature, particularly if they work at the computer all day. If you have to be at the computer for long periods then get up regularly..walk around. Follow the advice and exercises recommended by airline carriers, these are usually very good. If you are travelling by plane, invest in a pair of special socks. They are actually quite comfortable and lovely on cold days! If you are being operated on, it is now standard procedure to place DVT socks on patients and to leave them on until they are discharged. The risk of thrombosis is now being widely recognised and if you are not being offered this information, ask why.

Lanai: Do you know of other cases like this related to SL or video games?

There have been many documented cases of DVTs occurring in games players and office workers at the computer most of the day. One was documented in England only a couple of weeks ago where a healthy 20 year old died. He would sit cross legged for hours playing at his playstation. This is sadly not an uncommon occurrence.

Lanai: Are you still being treated for this deep vein thrombosis?

Jane: i will have to be treated for the rest of my life. Before I fly, I will have to inject myself, I am stuck wearing my 'glamour' stockings for two years..I have to sleep with my feet elevated. I'm alive though. I have to take medication to thin my blood (warfarin) which prevents anymore clots forming, if I cut myself, there is a danger I'll bleed to death if the dose is wrong and the medication has very variable ups and downs, it as I said, interacts with everything seemingly, so a glass of cranberry juice might make it rise to dangerous levels were I to bleed. I had an incident of this a while ago where I cut my foot. I could not get the bleeding to stop and ended up going to hospital for something that was relatively minor. I have to now wear a med bracelet which alerts emergency staff that I am warfarin. If I had an accident, and had to have an emergency operation it could increase the dangers involved. If I need an operation it now has to be meticulously planned in advance. Its so preventable most of the time, please try to prevent this happening from you too.

Lanai: I will. thank you for making me more aware of DVT. What would you recommend to others that spend hours in Second Life?

Jane: It is extremely dangerous to be immobile at the computer for hours on end, with your legs in the same position, putting pressure on certain points for protracted periods. There is a lot of information on DVT's and Pulmonary embolism on the net. Pleases take the time to read it.

Additional information and links for information on pulmonary embolisms and Thrombosis

Are you at risk? Take the WebMD, DVT quiz!


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