The Incredible Fall: My story of Pulmonary Embolism.

I love the Fall.

It is my favorite season, one I look forward to all year long. I couldn’t wait for it this year especially. I would be fully recovered from my surgery, and ready to make wonderful memories with my family. Apple picking, pumpkin picking, Fall Festivals, long walks, birthdays and Halloween fun.

I had a rough summer, facing the turmoil of severe PMDD, and a major surgery. I couldn’t wait to be healed and get a long awaited break.

And then it happened.

I was walking my daughter to her school which is very close to our house, when I could barely breathe, and the left side of my chest hurt. My chest felt a heaviness I’ve never felt before, and my heart was beating rapidly. I felt lightheaded and scared but hid it from my daughter while I whispered goodbye.

Little did I know at the time that it could have been my last goodbye to her. My sweet precious girl.

One third of people who have not been diagnosed or treated for pulmonary embolism will die. Wow. That statistic just hit me like a ton of bricks. I have to take a moment to recover.

I walked home with my five year old son very slowly. A walk which usually takes five minutes took about twenty. I called my husband and said something was wrong and that I needed to go to the emergency room right after he dropped off our son at school. My son who is now six years old. My son who still needs me to teach him so many new things such as how to live a full, safe life with severe food allergies. My precious boy who still calls me Mama, and falls asleep by my side each night before bed.

Though I was very nervous and having trouble breathing, I really thought I had pneumonia and pleurisy again. As someone with asthma and many chronic illnesses, I get sick very easily.

I was given a bed and an IV very quickly. Soon after they gave me a full blood panel.

I was completely shocked and taken off guard when the ER doctor told me that he had good news and bad news.

My gaze fell to the floor as I tried to hold back tears.

The way that he said it scared the hell out of me. It didn’t seem like the usual I’m about to tell you that you have pneumonia look.

Bad news? I immediately thought of cancer, and of some other horrible possibilities.

The doctor told me that my D-dimer test was high and that they would have to admit me to the hospital. I thought what the hell is a D-dimer test? I quickly found out that a D-dimer test is a test which measures blood clot risk. I had never heard of it before but it is a very valuable diagnostic tool, one which started the doctors on the path to saving my life.

The good news was that I would get my own room at the hospital very quickly and be able to get a CT scan to see if there were indeed blood clots somewhere. I was immediately given the blood thinner Lovenox through my IV. Blood thinners work to prevent existing clots from growing, and toward preventing new ones from forming. I was given an echo-cardiogram and Doppler Ultrasound of my legs. Thankfully, those tests were fine.

I had never had a blood clot before, but had a few of the risk factors including supplemental estrogen from birth control pills, recent surgery and bed rest. According to the Mayo Clinic, some other risk factors may include pregnancy, cancer, heart disease, smoking, long trips, and being overweight (especially in women who smoke or have high blood pressure.)

I knew there were some risk factors from taking birth control pills, especially the Yaz pills that I was taking for my PMDD. I also knew that my recent hysterectomy/oopherectomy held such risks. I took those risks willingly, never thinking that I, a woman in my 40’s who had never had a blood clot, would actually get one.

Well, welcome to my October surprise!

I was in the hospital for three days and the entire staff was warm, friendly and very knowledgeable. I hated being there for so long away from my family, and was very frightened. The nurses, assistants, nutritionists and doctors all helped me to feel like I wasn’t alone, in between my family visits. I joked with one of the staff and called her Nurse Ratched, every time she stuck a needle into my belly. My belly which is extremely sore and bruised from twice daily injections. My belly which once held my sweet babies is now a giant pin cushion. Brief pause as I imagine Hellraisers face imprinted on my belly. Ok, back to my belly, which may be in pain, but will be the place through which the medicine is placed, to help me live again.

I took a CT scan with contrast which diagnosed me with multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli. I will have to be on blood thinners for at least six months, and take many blood tests and scans. There are other blood thinners our there in pill form, but I reacted badly to them.

The recovery differs for each patient from a few weeks to many months or years. For me, it is taking a long time. I had just recovered from major surgery when I got my diagnosis. I was out of shape, and am now extra anxious due to my new medical condition. It has been hard to breathe, especially due to my asthma, and hard to walk far distances. I had some anxiety before, but now it is at an all time high. It is hard to get things done or leave the house on many days, but I must especially to exercise to aid my recovery, and prevent more blood clots from forming. I am currently on daily medication until the anxiety improves. I am hoping that it will soon, and that when I am off of blood-thinners in March that things will get as back to normal as they can.

I face a long, scary, anxiety provoking six months, but with the help of my family, friends and many doctors, I will get through this. I will keep taking baby steps, and pray I will not have more roadblocks on the way to full recovery. I will take it day by day. I will look at the faces of my children and my husband, and thank God I am still here. I will appreciate their beautiful faces even more now. I will try to show them how much I love them until my last breath. I will work harder to make a difference because this scare has taught me that my time here is limited.

Please learn the symptoms of pulmonary embolism and talk to friend and family about this important and dangerous condition. It can affect you no matter what sex you are, and risk factors increase with age.

I did not know the symptoms of pulmonary embolism weeks ago. But, I did trust my instincts that something was very wrong. Going to the ER that day saved my life and now though my activity is limited, I can enjoy my favorite season once again.

I love the Fall.

Now more than ever…

 

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am No One. I Am Someone. My Story of Domestic Violence

Many years ago an ex-boyfriend drove me deep into the woods of a small Connecticut town. It was a beautiful sunny day, and there was a very scenic view. I was enjoying the ride until he said to me “if you ever lie to me or cheat on me, I will bury your body in these woods.”

He then added “and no one will ever find you.”

He spoke these words so clearly and matter-of-factly, as if he had been planning this for months. He was totally serious and made sure I knew it. It was at the point that I knew I would never get out of this relationship alive.

I was dating a man similar to my violent abusive father, the cycle continued. Just like Julia Roberts’ character in “Sleeping With the Enemy,” I had to make a plan and gather the strength and courage to leave him.

We had been dating for a year at the time, and there were many signs of abuse such as yelling at me constantly, pushing, punching, grabbing me so hard that my arms were black and blue, throwing objects at me, threatening me and putting me down often. I slowly recognized these signs of abuse, but was stuck, torn apart, and felt like I had nowhere else to go at the time. Plus, I really felt like I could change him by smothering him with love and kindness. But that never works, people only change if they want to and receive the necessary help that they desperately need.

At the time I was no one. I was just a carpet for others to walk all over. I had no confidence, I had no inner strength, I had no soul. I was just walking down an endless deep dark path, and I never felt so alone.

Due to an abusive childhood, I thought that it was normal to be treated the way my ex treated me for awhile. I thought I deserved it. And like many abuse victims, I thought I could change my boyfriend into a loving man. I believed him each time he said he’d never hit me again, though the look of satisfaction on his face said otherwise.

I would look at other couples who were in love, and wish I was in love with someone kind. Instead I was dating a monster. This monster was very good looking and charming. He fooled many people. He made a fool out of me on many occasions. Nothing I ever did was good enough, nothing I did was ever right. I was constantly walking on eggshells, trying to please him so that I could have some peace.

But, I was fooling myself, for there is never any peace in an abusive relationship, and there never will be. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – “on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.”

I started secretly seeing a psychologist on my lunch breaks in Manhattan. The walks to these appointments were terrifying, but after each one I felt a bit of a release. I was finally able to tell someone, I finally showed my bruises to someone. The look on my psychologists face said it all, and she slowly helped me gain the courage to leave. All of the shame and fear I had been feeling came pouring out, like an endless ball of pain. It was finally unraveling, I could finally breathe again and dream that happiness would someday be within my reach.

Soon after, I left my boyfriend after a heated fight. I ran into some policemen on the walk to my mom’s house, and they escorted me the rest of the way. I did not tell them what had happened.

I had run out of the house, fearing for my life, and left with only the shirt on my back. I had no other possessions, but I had my life and I had my dignity. My family took care of me until I healed, and figured out what to do. I finally told them and my friends what I had been enduring. My ex tried to keep me away from these friends, but once I told them they said to run and never look back.

I was weak and did look back a few times and called my ex out of loneliness and desperation. We even got back together for a few weeks. But the same cycle of violence occurred and we broke up for good soon after. I was lucky that he convinced himself that it was not worth it, and I never saw him again.

I continued counseling for a few years which helped me to figure out a plan. My plan was to be alone for a long time until I learned to really like myself for the first time in my life. I learned to embrace the quiet and treasure my solitude. My hobbies of writing poetry, rollerblading, kayaking, and photography helped save my life. These hobbies filled my time and were my constant companions.

They would never hurt me. They would only enrich my life and help me grow.

These hobbies built up my body and my spirit, and they allowed me to move forward.

Please be aware of all of the signs of verbal and physical abuse. Teach them to your children. Let them know that they cannot treat people this way, and that they should never allow anyone to treat them this way. It is not acceptable to abuse others.

It is true that love and relationships can be hard work. They can have many ups and downs. They require lots of patience and lots of respect. They should, however, be mostly filled with love and happy memories. It should not feel like hard work all the time. You should not change who you are to be with someone.

You should never accept anyone hitting you.

If they do, quietly walk away. Ask others for the support you need and deserve.

You are not a punching bag.

And whether the abuse is physical or verbal, you do not have to stay.

Make a plan, and leave right away or as soon as you can.

It is much better to be alone and alive, than it is to be abused.

Someday, when you are removed from your horrible situation, you will learn from it. You will learn to like yourself again. You will grow and blossom into the amazing human being that you are. You will live again. You will find happiness. Many have walked in these same footsteps. I was one of them. Let us lead the way. You are not alone.

Just keep saying these words over and over until you believe them. Then go ahead and take your life back and learn to live it!

I am someone. I am good. I am compassionate. I am special. I have great worth, and no one can take that away from me. I will unravel this ball of pain that consumes me. I will transform it into a great ball of light. This light will brighten my world. It will lead the way to better things. It will help me move on and be happy. It will help me love again, and share that love with the world. Life is a circle, not a cycle. My cycle of abuse is over. I will not let it overtake me again. I am finally free….

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

If you ever need help you can use the following resources:

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
  • For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or  1-800-787-3224
  • http://www.ncadv.org/