Survivor Spotlight: Pat Fey

Who am I?

That’s a powerful question.  There has only been a few times where I have put my feelings down on paper.  I use to love to journal, but I seem to have stopped a long time ago when it seemed my life was not too exciting to write about.  Just a typical Mom doing things what Moms do.  But now, looking back, maybe I should have never stopped.  I love to write, and I always thought “someday, I would love to write a book”.  Maybe I will put that on my “bucket list”…..funny, I haven’t even started a “bucket list” yet. Hmmm

I first married my childhood sweetheart at the age of 19.  I was in an abusive marriage for almost 7 years.  Knowing what I know now, it shouldn’t even have lasted more than a year….but love is blind and you truly believe people will change.  Of course, I was so embarrassed that I never shared it with anyone for quite some time….and only very few when I did.  I remarried a wonderful man and had two beautiful daughters.  After the girls started school, I decided to go back to work.  I truly missed my work in accounting so I answered an ad for a part-time job in a non-profit agency.  I was called for an interview, not knowing anything about the agency I was applying to.  What a surprise, it was for a domestic violence shelter.  I was offered the job and from that day on,  I learned more about myself and my past than I ever thought possible.  It was my blessing in disguise as I learned to heal myself, no longer being embarrassed or blaming me for my past.

Moving on, after 26 years of employment to a job I just love and never want to end, my life seemed so perfect.  My youngest daughter married and gave us two beautiful grand-daughters who are now ages 3 and 6, who I just love with all my heart.  Being a Grandma is the best profession ever.  They remind me so much of my own daughters at their age and sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize they aren’t and I’m not living in the past.

I love the sun and we have a cabin on a private lake where we swim and fish.  That’s my idea of a very relaxing vacation.  Just sitting on the deck reading and catching the warm sun rays is heaven.  We have our family reunions at the Lake and the little ones just love it….just like our daughters did when they were little.  It’s our very special place.

So, how did I find myself on a website called “Surviving A Silent Killer”?  (I wish I could just pinch myself and realize I’m not)  But I’m here and I found it quite by accident.  I always considered myself quite healthy except for having a weight problem.  I was a yo-yo dieter for many, many years which is why I have a huge weight problem now.  I have a closet full of clothes that range in size from 10-22 and shoes from size 7 to 9. ( I keep them all praying that I will soon get back into them, and if I wait long enough, they will even be back in style for sure.) The only time I was ever in the hospital was when I gave birth to my daughters.  As I got older, I fell and broke my arm….the first time I ever had to have surgery, and I was scared to death……now a broken arm seems so trivial.  Then a few years later, I went in for emergency gallbladder surgery, which resulted in two separate surgeries a day apart.  I guess I was making up for lost time.  But I healed and felt good and even started to drop weight again by going to the gym. 

A few years later, I came down with a horrible cold and cough which I just couldn’t seem to get rid of it.  The cough seemed to linger on, but other than that, I was feeling ok. Then, a week prior to my near death experience, I felt shortness of breath when I climbed the stairs at work.  I got dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out. I even had to loosen my dress slacks so I could catch my breath.   I got into the Dr. the next day with a very high blood pressure.  He took an EKG and a chest x-ray, and couldn’t find what was causing my sob.  The next day we took a four hour drive for Easter weekend to spend with family.  I was fine, walked up and downstairs with no problems at all and played with our grand-daughters.  Two days later, I left a finance meeting to head back to the office and for some reason I ended up stopping at home on the way back, going into the house and telling my husband that I couldn’t breathe.  I don’t remember any of it….not even the drive home through traffic lights and all or let alone walking into the house.  My husband immediately called 911 and I was on my way to the ER.  I lost five days of my life that to this day, I don’t recall any of it.  My Cardiologist explains it as trauma that my brain won’t let me remember, and he said it’s a good thing.  My brain is protecting me!  (Thank you dear brain)  When I first woke up, two nurses were by my bed chatting and all I remember was the lights above my head.  They explained that I was in the hospital and my daughters were in the waiting room.  I couldn’t figure out why my daughters were there and I figured I must be dreaming and dozed back off.  The next time I woke up, I was told I had a breathing tube down my throat and I was hooked up to many machines that were keeping me alive. And this gigantic pain in my chest.  My team of Drs. came in and explained all that happened.  I had a saddle block blood clot and massive blood clots in both lungs and DVT’s.  And I was a miracle for being alive.  I had coded 9 times in ER and they could not stable me enough to get a CT-scan.  But somehow they did and found the lungs blocked with the saddle block that had already crystalized and wasn’t moving without surgery or I would die.  So I was scheduled for surgery the next morning if I made it through the night.  I had open heart surgery to remove the clot, which is a very rare procedure.  Then they did some kind of backflow and flushed out all the clots in both lungs which I am told just plopped out into a surgical pan.  I’m not sure what all was done the next four days since I was out, which I truly believe it was a blessing because I would have been scared to death.  They finally removed the breathing tube and I could talk to my family and ask many questions.  A few days later, they had me up and walking and days later, I was removed out of ICU on to the heart floor.  I was there for about another week and learned how to use my hands and get some strength back and walk, walk and walk more.  Then I was released to rehab and I lasted three days and I made my husband get me out of there before I died.  It was more or less an assisted living facility with very little assistance….especially caring for a patient that just went through what I did.  We scheduled home health care which was another blessing.  Being home was the answer and I can’t say enough about what a caring husband I had taking care of me being sure I got my meds, ate and walked/exercised.  He healed me faster than anyone thought possible and I even surprised the Drs. how well I was doing andtwo months later I was able to go back to work and I’m still working to this very day.  My clots were unprovoked and I am on blood thinners for life.  I do know my weight and laziness was a big factor in my clots and I am so ready to turn that all around in the coming new year.  I have to, because I never want to go through this ever again.

It took me some time to google DVT/PE’s to find out exactly what all this was about.  I read one site that said saddle blocks are rarely discovered until an autopsy is performed.  That stopped me cold and I didn’t want to know or read anymore.  But I had so many questions and somehow, later on, I found these two sites that helped me explain what I was feeling, what all I had been through and so many survivors that knew exactly what to say and express how I was feeling.  I finally have some validity of what I had gone through and how I was feeling.  And not a day goes by that I don’t post or just read what everyone is sharing.  It’s like my lifeline that I need a daily dose of.

So….that’s me!!!  I told you I love to write… you understand.  I was 62 when this happened to me and my 3 year anniversary of survival will be in April.  It’s a day of celebration that I made another year and I look so forward to many, many more anniversaries to come.  When you experience a near death experience, it makes you wonder why you survived.  I often wondered how many more times I could have coded until they just gave up.  Thank God he was watching out for me and had a team of professionals doing what they do best….saving lives.  My purpose now is my family, they are my entire life and I want to spend as much time with them as possible.  My other purpose, is to get the word out about DVT/PE’s.  People that haven’t experienced it, or had a family member or friend go through it haven’t a clue what it is.  I didn’t until it happened to me.  I just want more awareness about this through the media and let people know why it’s called “A Silent Killer”.

Thank you each and every one of you for reading my story and for supporting us all on these wonderful websites.  Being survivors is what this is all about.  Love you all!                                               

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