On January 27, 2010, I’d gone to Convenient Care and was diagnosed with bronchitis. I thought it was odd that I didn’t have typical symptoms as in times past, but I accepted what the doctor told me and started taking the medicine.
The following Sunday, January 31st, I arrived at church and noticed I was “winded” walking into the building. During the service, I also was aware that I didn’t have enough breath to stand or sing. As I sat there, the more uneasy I felt. As women, we hear medical experts talk about women presenting with heart issues that are different from men. My mom is a nurse and I knew probably too much about what “could” be wrong with me, adding to my sense of unease. I sat there wondering what “it” was, but knowing something definitely wasn’t right.
After church, I went back to the same convenient care facility I’d been to earlier in the week for what I thought was a respiratory infection(bronchitis). All I could tell them was that something wasn’t right. I explained that I’d had it burned into my brain about women and heart symptoms and that was really what had me worried. The doctor reluctantly sent me across the hall for an EKG. During the procedure, the technician said, “Uhhhh, I am going get the doctor, I’ll be right back!” I knew that was bad. The doctor came back in and told me that I was in A-fib and not only was I going straight to the hospital, but he had called an ambulance to get me there. WHAT?!?!? How did I get to “going to the hospital in an ambulance” from “shortness of breath”?!?! I’m pretty sure that was faster than the 1.6 seconds it usually takes my brain to get to “worst case scenario”!
That was the moment in which I felt the most alone I have ever felt in my entire life. My parents were wintering in Florida with plans to leave the next day for Texas to be with her siblings. My daughter was 5 ½ hours away at her freshman year of college with no vehicle on campus. My best friend was in Ohio with her parents. My phone battery was nearly dead…..I called my brother who was celebrating his 49th birthday with his (now) wife and her kids. I quickly explained that I knew and apologized for intruding on their celebration. They assured me they’d make calls and meet me at the ER.
When I arrived in ER, the doctor told me immediately I was not in A-fib. He said “something was definitely wrong”, but it wasn’t A-fib. I was swept off for a chest x-ray and CT scan. I still had no clue what “it” was. When I returned to the ER, both my brothers were there. (Looking back on it, both of my brothers’ wives were there too My ER nurse became my younger brother’s bride in May, 2012)
The doctor came back in and gave me the diagnosis. Multiple pulmonary embolisms in both lungs (saddle clots). I remember my reaction, “Holy cow….this is not good!” and my sister-in-law telling me, “Just stay calm….” I guess she wasn’t sure what I was going to say or do next. I spent five days in ICU before I was released.
The testimony of God is TRULY in the untold details. Bilateral PE’s carries a high mortality rate. I look back now and I believe it was God’s leading that made me think it was heart related, as that is what it took (even erroneously) to get me to the hospital-and in an ambulance. As I said, my ER nurse was reluctantly introduced to my brother and they have been together ever since. I’d been dealing with some personal emotional junk that He had a solution for right around the corner. It was as if He was telling me definitively that ALL THINGS DO work together for good and this was the exclamation point on that.
So as I celebrate another year of life, I thank the Lord for not only new life, but all the other blessings that came from that day!
*** History of what led up to the PE*** I believe my situation was a perfect storm of events. I’d been out of town on business the week prior to my PE’s. On the eight-hour trip home, I only stopped twice (I no longer do that!) and I was taking oral contraceptives, at that time. My mom also have a DVT in 1976, so I had a family history. I was on blood thinners for about 9 months after my PE’s and have been fine, since. I am consciously aware of what “could” happen again, but I do not let fear control me. I take proper precautions when traveling and pay close attention to any warning signs.