Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just Keep Swimming....

So now that I've lost the "water weight", how am I managing?

Ha.  I've been a bit grumpy this week when the scale has remained exactly the same.  Today I finally gave up and decided I needed to leave the scale behind and quit focusing on it.  I started incorporating more exercise this week, which I'm insanely proud of.  I have issues with my lungs and it makes it difficult to do much that involves cardio sometimes.  Speaking of...I've been having a lot of flashbacks related to my hospital stay in August of last year and I feel like some therapy is due soon.  Stop reading if you're not keen on reading about scary hospital stays, but I feel the need to get it all out on "paper" again.

August 10, 2011:  After work that night, I had some vague shoulder pain.  I figured it was muscle pain from being hunched over a computer all day.  I thought maybe it could be related to acid reflux as well.  I wasn't too concerned about it, but it was odd.

August 11, 2011:  I woke up to get ready for work and got into the shower.  I had gotten over a cold recently and had been coughing some here and there still.  While I was in the shower, I had a coughing fit and noticed that I had coughed up some blood.  That startled me a bit, because I knew that it could be a sign of something serious, but figured it was a burst blood vessel or something small because of all of the coughing.  I finished getting ready for work and took my girls to daycare.  On the the way to work, I noticed a bit of lower left chest pain when I would breathe and called my primary care doctor.  I was told to keep an eye on it and if it wasn't better the next day, to make an appointment to come in and see her.  I got to work, took a few Excedrin and worked for 9 hours.

I left work at the end of the day and went to pick up the girls (ages 3 and 1) at daycare.  The ladies up front noticed that I looked a little off and I confessed that I wasn't feeling so great that day.  As I got the girls buckled into their seats, the pain became intensified, to the point where I started having trouble breathing.  I got into the driver's seat and sat there for almost 30 minutes before I could make a decision about where to go or what to do.  The pain was INSANE.  I had never experienced pain like that before, and I had been through natural childbirth!  I could hardly take a breath in--it felt like 500 knives twisting, turning, burning my lung.  It was isolated to only one place in my chest, the lower left area as before.  My doctor's office was already closed for the day, so I couldn't go there.  I called my husband, who was working, and told him to meet me at the hospital.  I kept thinking it was something silly like bronchitis or something...that for some reason I was just in a lot of pain.  I started driving towards the hospital and the pain got worse (was that even possible?!).  On the way, I realized that whatever was causing the pain was going to continue to worsen and that maybe I wouldn't make it to the hospital.  I knew I couldn't pull over on the side of the road to call 911--who would take care of my kids while they take me to the hospital?  The only thing I could think of was the nearby fire station--they would take care of me and keep the kids safe until Troy got to them.  That's all I could think about--fire stations are "safe havens" for kids.

As I drove as fast as I could to the fire station, I chanted "it's ok, you're fine.  It's going to be ok, you're fine.  Almost there.  Almost there" in my head the whole way.  The kids were going nuts in the back, because they were hungry and the oldest knew we weren't going the right way to go home.  We finally got to the fire station and I couldn't quite figure out where to park.  I finally veered the van over to one side of the station and there was a fireman sitting outside.  I threw the van in park and rolled down my window and just collapsed.  It had taken everything I had to drive there.  He ran over and the rest is kind of a blur.  When my husband arrived, there were EMTs and firemen everywhere.  They were in the back of the van talking with the girls, trying to keep them calm and happy (Parker was super excited about the fire trucks, I do remember that!).  They got my breathing stabilized and took me to the hospital in an ambulance.  I do remember trying to crack a joke or two about having never ridden in an ambulance before and another lame joke about if they needed to cut my shirt open.  Can you blame me for trying?  :)

When we got to the hospital, things moved pretty quickly from there.  The doctor immediately ordered a full body CT to check for clots, which I thought was crazy.  I fondly remember the radiologist telling me that the contrast material going through my body would make me feel like I had to pee.  He was wrong.  It made me feel like I HAD peed myself, all over the table.  By the time Troy got back to the ER after dropping the girls off with his mom, the doctor came in with the results of the CT.

"It's positive", he tells me.  I looked at him and asked him if it was positive good or positive bad.  He gave me a look like "lady, you crazy" and informed me that it was positive for not one, but multiple PE's.  Pulmonary embolisms are blood clots that get lodged in your lungs.  If they don't kill you, they can break off and cause a stroke, or severe chest pain, like I experienced.  So, not only did I have one of these, but my lungs were filled with them.  The biggest one, in my left lower lobe had caused the intense pain.  I was told that I was lucky I didn't die.  I was admitted to the hospital that night and stayed inpatient for almost 2 weeks.  There were a lot of issues with getting my blood clotting numbers therapeutic and various other problems, hence the long stay.  I don't think I really quite "got" it, how close I had been to not making it through and how lucky I was, at least until I left the hospital.  At the time, they weren't sure what had caused the clots--if it was a clotting disorder, or just a fluke.

Almost 8 months later, I now know that I have a clotting disorder.  There is one confirmed, but my hematologist suspects that there are others.  The confirmed one is called Factor V Leiden.  It's a gene mutation that is passed down by your parents.  I have the one-strand version, so only one of my parents is a carrier.  We still have more tests pending, but my doctor tells me that a multitude of my tests show that I also have a Protein C & S deficiency, as well as some Lupus Anticoagulant involvement.  *Don't expect me to explain ANY of that to you, because I'm still working on that myself*  :)

I am on Coumadin, a blood thinner, for life.  I have residual scarring in my lungs from the damage done by the clots.  I am lucky to be alive and well.  I am lucky to have an amazing husband who was by my side during all of it, unconditionally.  I have the most wonderful friends who kept my spirits up with good food, snacks, gossip magazines and Skype sessions.  I have so much to live for, and losing weight and getting healthy is the next step in my recovery.  If you've read this far, I thank you.  :)


  1. Oh, Sarah. I wish I could hug you right now, but instead I'll just say that I'm so happy for your healthier self. You may just motivate me to start being more healthy!

  2. Awww, thank you, Janet! That's so sweet!