Let me tell you about the time I could have died.
I’ve been pretty open about my weight gain and battle with PCOS. Part of that required me to take medication. I was prescribed birth control to help regulate symptoms. I’ve been taking it for a few months now, and originally I saw results. But lately I’ve noticed symptoms returning and I needed to change some things about my diet and how I exercise. I’ve been moderating my diet more, and being more cautious about what I eat, and working out before bed. My workout is what triggered this entire saga, so buckle up, as this is quite the ride.
During my Deadboys Fitness workout, I suddenly got really dizzy and needed to lay down. I assumed I was dehydrated and drank water. But I still kept feeling disoriented. I asked one of the kids to get me a snack, thinking maybe my blood sugar was low. Nothing helped. When my Apple Watch advised me my heart rate has spiked significantly walking to my bathroom, I decided maybe it was time to call an ambulance.
Now, anyone who identifies as female will tell you how important it is to advocate for yourself during a medical event. I’ve learned through the years from caring for my mom that medical professionals do not like to listen to women. Even my own health issues were largely ignored for months. I knew something was wrong; I had been hiking with one of my best friends three days earlier! Those lateral hops were nothing! But the EMT kept dismissing my concerns as “anxiety,” as my vitals were fine. But I wasn’t fine. I was winded bending over to pick up my phone. I spent hours in a waiting room in a wheelchair because walking ten steps wore me out. My chest and throat were burning like I ran a half marathon. Even the nurses said since three EKG’s, and a blood oxygen test were fine, I needed to go home. It was just stress. I insisted I see the doctor. I’m not normally one to demand things, but I’m grateful I did. The doctor said that while I looked fine, it didn’t hurt to check a few other things. So he requested an x-Ray, more blood work, and a d-dimer test, to check for clots. Within what felt like three minutes, a nurse rushed in saying we needed a CT scan RIGHT NOW. I had to take off my necklace and get into a gown ASAP. The first IV was removed to make room for IV number two. The next little bit was a blur: X-rays, needles, then a move to an observation room as my old room in the ER was taken (along with my necklace, that never made it back to me. I’m absolutely heartbroken, as the ring around my neck was a gift from my oldest friend), and now I’m hooked up to a heart monitor, blood pressure machine, and blood is being drawn from my HAND because there are no more veins in my arms available thanks to multiple blood draws and IV’s. I hadn’t eaten or drank in 13 hours. I hadn’t slept in 30 hours. There isn’t a single part of me that isn’t in mind numbing pain and worst of all, I can still barely breathe. The wait is long and miserable and that IV is driving me insane. Finally, a doctor appears and starts asking a bunch of questions:
– Do I smoke? (No)
– How often do I work out? (3-4 times/week)
– What medications am I on? (birth control)
Doctor has an “a ha!” moment. The medication triggered this. Finally I get answers. There are blood clots in my lungs, known as a pulmonary embolism. I caught it early so j should recover fully, but had I just gone to sleep, I could have suffered a cardiac event or stroke and even died. My 15yo basically saved me by waking me up out of concern. I also learned that doctors don’t enjoy black humour as a coping mechanism. Answering “obviously I’m killing it,” when asked how I was doing is the wrong answer. Who knew?
But for the next few months, things have to change; no crossfit or running for two months, blood thinners for four. No alcohol, stricter diet, and lots of rest. I also need a different treatment for PCOS. It’s a scary time and combined with my other stressors (caring for my elderly mom, raising my family, trying to find a second job to combat inflation), it’s a lot. When the doctor asked if I could reduce my stress levels, I just laughed. This was the worst time for a health issue. I won’t lie; I’m scared. I’m going to be at risk for blood clots for the rest of my life. I don’t want my kids to have to worry if mommy is gonna be okay. Right now they have to help me around the house and it’s insane. I’m supposed to take care of them, not the other way around. I’m back at work two days later because I just can’t afford to take time off. I rarely receive child support and I just can’t risk the financial hit. It’s very depressing to know you can’t afford to get sick. Also, I’ve never done well doing nothing. This has been an emotional roller coaster.
But, much like everything bad that happens in life, there’s always something positive you can find if you look hard enough. My friends and colleagues all stepped up to check in on me and offer accommodations so I can work. My oldest offered to buy her siblings some summer clothes so I wouldn’t have to stress. My other daughter offered to let me hang out with her creepy doll so I wouldn’t be lonely on bedrest. My oldest friend called me to check in, because he knew not only was I upset about my health, but by the loss of my necklace, and he took the time to check in. One of my best friends offered to help us do my groceries. My amazing boss checked in all day while I was in the hospital. My downstairs neighbour made sure to check in with the kids so I wouldn’t worry. Everyone I know made sure to help me feel loved and supported. It’s nice to know that when times are tough, I’ve got a bunch of people who have my back. A lady can’t help but feel gratitude when so many people are there for you in a crisis situation. The world is full of amazing people and I’m fortunate enough to call many of them friends.
The next few months are gonna be tough, but we will make it through, just as we have always done before. I’ll be healthier, and probably happier. I’ll also have learned that I don’t need to do everything myself, and that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes; especially if that time is “I almost died.” I’ve always put everyone ahead of myself, so I’m going to use this time to take care of myself, because I can’t be a good mom from the great beyond.