My life took an unexpected time out last Tuesday. I woke up feeling a little off and had a slight twinge in my right upper thigh that I blew off thinking it was just related to that special time of the month. Midday I was walking around getting some things done when suddenly I could not catch my breath. I was breathing in but the air didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Terrifying would be a fairly accurate description. Also, heartbreaking as I couldn’t help but think of Dave during his last day or so and how he must have felt. I caught my breath after sitting for a few moments and thought that perhaps I had had a panic attack. But as the afternoon went on, I had this nagging sense that perhaps this was a bigger deal. I called my mom and told her “I think that I need to go to the ER.” She picked me up and we headed straight there.
If you want to get seen quickly in the ER, check the “shortness of breath” box. Within minutes I had an EKG and the doctor was in to talk to me. The good news is that I wasn’t having a heart attack. However, my blood pressure and heart rate were through the roof. I tried to explain that I was stressed about my breathing but that I was also anxious because my husband had died in this very hospital in June. I am sure it was difficult to understand me through my tears, but the nurse could not have been kinder or more comforting. I wish I knew her name as she was a Godsend. The doctor ordered a big dose of Ativan to calm me down.
It was a shift change so a new doctor came in to see me. I happened to mention the twinge in my leg earlier in the day. He ordered a chest x-ray, CT scan and an ultrasound of my leg which I had quickly all in a row. Apparently I had experienced a pulmonary embolism – a large clot traveled from my leg and I ended up with clots to each lung in the pulmonary arteries. Sadly for me this meant that I had to be admitted to the hospital where I most definitely didn’t want to stay.
The long story short is that I spent Tuesday through Friday night there. Fortunately, I wasn’t lacking in visitors to keep my company. My parents held down the fort at home and also visited to check on me and bring necessities (hello, deodorant and toothpaste). I had an echocardiogram done as well to check on my heart. There is some effect but the damage should be completely reversible and heal over time. In the end, the assortment of doctors couldn’t quite agree as to whether something seen in my heart was another clot or not. At first they said it was and then one said he wasn’t convinced. Perhaps they were looking at the part of my heart that broke this summer when Dave died.
So I am home. And very happy to be here with the kids. I was tired of being in the hospital and all that comes with it. The constant blood testing and vitals checks were making me crazy. I am thankful that, as many of the nurses and doctors told me, “things didn’t turn out differently”. I am trying to take it easy and keep in the forefront of my mind that my kids should not be screwed out of having both parents. I am tired and a little anxious but as my lungs and heart heal and my breathing gets easier, I know those effects will also resolve themselves.