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.