March 16, 2016

The Gift of Today


Today is a very important day for me. As you may know, about 6 months ago I developed a blood clot in my lung, a Pulmonary Embolism, after having my appendix out. I awoke in the wee hours of a Friday morning with a lot of pain and discomfort in the right side of my chest and arm. It was severe enough that it had me laying in bed googling heart attack symptoms on my phone. I spent the day trying to convince myself it was nothing and that it was getting better. By 3am on Saturday morning I was noticeably worse. I couldn't take a deep breath without pain. I called my family doctor who assured me it was likely gas from the appendix surgery or possibly pleurisy and if it wasn't better in a day or two I might want to go to the ER. Well it turns out gas after a laparoscopic surgery is a normal occurrence a FEW days after surgery. Not almost two weeks after.

Since our Fall Festival parade was that morning and I had a friend coming to stay the night at our house that night, I continued to ignore it. I spent the morning at the parade, and the rest of the day cleaning and cooking and sitting on the porch talking with my friend. I was getting more uncomfortable by the moment but I still didn't want to be a bother to anyone and I was already feeling like a burden from the entire appendix episode as well as having to have a follow up MRI for an incidental finding from the appendix. By the time we went to bed that night. I couldn't get comfortable. It wasn't a half hour after we went to bed that I woke my guy up and told him I needed to go to the ER immediately. Every time I laid down I felt like I was suffocating. Thankfully my friend was staying the night and was able to be there with Emma while we went to the hospital.

After arriving at the ER they did a CT Scan and discovered I had a blood clot. I didn't really understand at the time what those words meant, how frightening the situation was or how it would change my life. There has been a lot of fear in the last 6 months. Also a lot of gratitude. Since this has happened I have had a lot of people share stories with me of people they knew who had PE's and died from them. Here's a tip for you, don't do that. Nobody wants to hear the horror story you have to share. Please share the success stories and keep the rest to yourself. I have been on blood thinners for the last 6 months which was it's own struggle. It's strange the love hate relationship you can have with medicine that may be saving your life. Today is my first day without them. I am looking forward to getting back to normal life. Not being afraid of eating certain foods that interfere with the meds, not being afraid of any activity that might hurt me and cause internal bleeding, not feeling paranoid every time I get a bruise or cut myself. So while today is a celebration, there is still a little fear of a repeat and that next time I might be one of those horror stories that was shared with me, but I CANNOT and WILL NOT live my life in fear.

I have learned so much through this experience. I have an even deeper appreciation for the small, every day moments of life, I have a much clearer view of who the people are in my life that I can and can't count on and more than anything I have learned that I can no longer put myself last, but that I must listen to my body and that it's okay to need help. Valuable, but hard learned lessons. And so I share this story with you, not for sympathy, but in the hope that it might help you or someone you love. It was a very hard thing for me to give myself permission to go to the ER not once, but twice and in fact I probably wouldn't have gone the first time if the doctor on call hadn't urged me to go. I have gone through life wanting to do for and take care of others. I have been a caretaker for as long as I've been alive and I never want to be a bother to anyone. Now I know that the people I love are as honored to take care of me as I am them and that I will fight with everything I have to be here for my family for a very long time. Even if that means putting myself first.

So I urge you, take care of yourselves and treat each day like the beautiful gift it is.


31 comments:

  1. So very happy your shared your story and your words of wisdom. We are of no help to others if we don't take care of ourselves, and yes, it's a difficult thing to learn (says the woman recovering from acute bronchitis and also experiencing her first panic attack due to a build up of stress). . . both are nothing compared to a PE but still, it's all relative. Love to read your blog and love the reality that you share. It's life. It's good, it's sometimes messy, it's real. :)

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  2. Thank you for sharing this Jen. I am glad that you are now able to be off the meds. I can't imagine what you had to go through! Hugs,
    Penny

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  3. The guy who cuts my hair just had this experience. He woke up at night with pain and he called an ambulance. He felt foolish doing it but he said he just couldn't stand it. He just started the six months of blood thinners and I was warning him about playing with the cats (my husband takes blood thinners and he's always bleeding because the cat nails him). Thanks for sharing your story, somehow I missed that six months ago.

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  4. So glad you are on the mend now. Our bodies tell us lots of things, if only we would listen. I've been going through a few things myself. Nothing like you experienced but things none the less. We have to take action for ourselves. Gut instinct is the best notifier.

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  5. Oh Jen -- am so happy that you are doing better and able to get off blood thinners. You and your sweet blog are such a bright spot in my day!

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  6. It so important to know your own self and what doesn't feel right. So glad that you finally got the help thanks for sharing.

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  7. Scary stuff!!! I remember the gas thing from my gallbladder surgery! My sister-in-law had it a year or so later and her doc told her to lay flat for the first couple of days so it didn't build up. Could've saved me a lot of pain.

    Glad that you are doing better and thank you for sharing the little corners of your life!!

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  8. So scary! Health issue's are so stressful.
    On a totally other note I was in kohl's today and they had the cutest aqua cow creamers, egg trays, and a lot more I can't remember. I love that color but my kitchen is not. But I thought of u.
    Take care, seeing us all healthy! !!

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  9. Oh friend, thank you for sharing. What bravery and grace you have had through these last six months. You shared such importantly lessons a lot of us need to hear about caring for ourselves. Thank you. I am so happy you are starting this new chapter! Xoxo and continued good health wished upon you.

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  10. Such a beautiful post, and reminder of the gift of each day. I was a cardiac nurse, and helped manage many on blood thinners. Hooray for you for finishing your course of meds, and best wishes for a vibrantly healthy life.

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  11. So beautifully written! Thanks for this.
    Brenda

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  12. Amen! I've never had a PE, but I did have a blood clot in my leg two weeks after surgery to have an ovary removed. I had to give myself Lovenox injection in my stomach (horrible) and then wear a compression stocking and be on blood thinners for 6 months. Like you, I was a bit paranoid while on them...that I'd fall and hurt myself/cause more medical damage, that my blood counts would be off, etc. It was a relief to be off the blood thinners and I haven't had a problem ever since then. And that was about 15 years ago. You got this, my friend. All is well.

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  13. I am so sorry that you had to go through so much in the past year. But, one of the things I have noticed in the years I have been following you is your resiliency. You have had set backs, but nothing keeps you down for long.

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  14. I hope you continue to go from strength to strength, thank you for sharing your story. Life is indeed a precious gift and to be cherished daily. Take lots of care, dee x

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  15. This is an important message to women, most of whom, just "gut it out" when in pain. Remember, pain is a gift from God. It has a purpose: to tell us to go for help. As a previous comment said: Know your body, be aware, and go. for. help.

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  16. I completed taking blood thinners after taking them for a year. I understand your feelings. I'm at the stage now where I'm able to look at this as learning lesson. I always treasured the little things but even more so now. I can see your reaction to this life changing event is very similar as mine. Aren't you amazed when some people continue to play with fire now that you've experienced your life changing in the blink of an eye? I know several men I wish would put their health first too. I think they feel it's unmanly to ask for help. Better days ahead!!!!

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  17. So glad that you are better and healing. It is amazing the things that can give us such a different perspective. I have struggled to really take care of me, and I am seeing the importance of doing that especially if I want to love and give to others and I am learning that it is OK. Praying for your continued healing!

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  18. The Lord bless you with peace! Each day is such a gift & in this new year I have been struggling to not just see the daily routines as mundane, but as the magical gifts they are-to see with "new eyes" of gratitude. I am on the hunt for the beauty! Jen, your words and lovely photographs are beautiful gifts each time they land in my inbox...thank you & again, blessings upon you and your house! :)

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  19. Jen, yet another beautifully written post! Your "horror story" comment is so true, nobody needs to hear the worst case scenario when your down, why oh why do people have to do that, so not helpful! I'm so glad to hear you are healing & well on the road to recovery. Just remind yourself from here on in it's fine to take it easy and giving others the opportunity to look after you.
    Anna xx

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  20. This was written from your heart as I know how you must have felt in the aftermath. I agree with the other ladies that commented...listen to yourself and your body and most of all, don't fee like your are always the last one who needs attention. I have severe asthma and in my thirties it was uncontrolled. I would suffer for days and finally give up my pride to ask my husband to take me to the ER. Each and every time I would be admitted and the doctors would read me the riot act for waiting and what could have been the worse scenario. Now my asthma is under control and those days are over. The lesson: don't ignore your body and mind and what they are trying to tell you.

    I'm happy that you are off meds...you can feel free and move on. I pray this never happens again to you and those who've read this, hopefully they will pay more attention to symptoms that concern them.

    Sending a big hug, Jen.

    Jane

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  21. I am so glad to hear that you are healing. PEs are definitely scary! I sympathize with the notion of not bothering anyone. It's a hard habit to break. Hugs.

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  22. Glad your on the mend. Your wonderful husband and daughters are a big plus for your recovery. Your family seems so loving and devoted to you. When the chips are down, that's when you need them most. I know you had great nursing.

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  23. I hear you. I developed a DVT (deep vein thrombosis- blood clot) in my right leg from being hospitalized and pretty immobile for about two months. I understand your fears as well as your gratitude. I remember being given the first injection of blood thinner at the hospital by a nurse who said, "this will keep you from dying." So I understand the power that some people's words can have and how they can stick with you.
    Here is what I know: I've never had another one. (That was in 1997!) I finally stopped the blood thinners and therefore all the blood tests, etc. I am eating normal food and don't think twice about that. The fear eventually stops (sometimes you need help with that part). You will stop thinking that every little twinge and pang is something horrible. Thank you for sharing this difficult part of your life with us. That is helpful, too. -Jenn

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  24. So happy to hear that you listened to your body and went to the ER. And great news that you are off of the blood thinner and dietary restrictions. As a physical therapist, I have had many patients who thought it was nothing. But the alternative to checking it out with a medical professional is not good. I'm happy that many times my patients and I were wrong about the pain being a clot. The few times we were right, a life was saved. And such a wonderful thing that is!! So happy you are better and enjoying life 😊

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  25. Thank you for this powerful post. The lessons you learned are so important. Especially listening to your body and not putting yourself last. Wishing health and happiness!

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  26. I am so sorry to read this!! My hubbie is a pulmonologist so I totally understand the seriousness of the situation. I'm rejoicing with you today as you celebrate being off the meds. Thank you for sharing your post. It may well save someones life!

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  27. Thank you for this post, Jen. It is so important that women read things like this. Myself included. We are always taking care of others but don't want to be a burden when it comes time to take care of ourselves. I'm so glad you're doing well. Any kind of health problem can be so scary. I've known several people that have suffered from blood clots and they are no joke. Happy Easter to you and your family!! xx

    ~ Wendy
    http://Crickleberrycottage.blogspot.com/

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  28. Well said. Thank you for those wise words.
    Susan

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  29. Lovely words and important reminders, Jen! I suffered a DVT blood clot when I was 12 weeks pregnant with my Abigail. I injected myself with blood thinners through the pregnancy and for 6 months post postpartum - it was stressful and I too, was fearful of everything and worry took over my life. I feared for my life and that of my baby, especially during the high risk delivery. Happy that 14 years later I have never had a recurrence and we are both well and HEALTHY! Lots of lessons learned, like you.
    Happy you are well.
    xo~Jill

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  30. Hi Jen,
    I am so glad that everything turned out ok after everything you went through! I can't imagine how scary it was...and you are so right, we always second guess going to the Dr. or the ER it seems!
    Taking care of ourselves is something we seem to do last...but something we should do first!
    A beautiful post and a great reminder!
    Hugs, Kimberley

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello today! I always love to hear what you have to say.