April 19, 2011

What Does It Feel Like?

I consulted my trusted blog advisor, Steven, about what I should write for this post, and at first said I didn't want to divulge too much about what's been happening in my personal life lately. I've since changed my mind. I think what's happened to me this past week is important, and I need to write about it, just in case it might save the life of someone else.

Last Monday was a typical day; however, I noticed a little soreness in the upper part of my back. As the day went on, the pain grew worse and I decided I had pulled something. The pain spread across my back and into my chest, and I noticed it was getting harder to breathe. By the end of the day, I couldn't take in deep breaths because of the pain. 

I was supposed to Skype-cook with Steven that night, but knew he had a cluster headache (trust me, they're terrible), so I at least had a reprieve until he felt better later. We talked and decided ibuprofen and an hour of rest might help us both. An hour later I felt slightly better, and we cooked our meals together via Skype (same recipe at the same time with our laptops in the kitchen). Total prep, cook, and talk time was somewhere around 2 hours, maybe a little less. Once dinner was ready, we logged off and ate on our own. I was beginning to hurt again, but only had one ibuprofen left, so I decided a heating pad might help. It did. To the point that I fell asleep in a comfy chair with my laptop, phone, and TV remote all in my lap. I woke and decided I should have gone to bed a couple of hours ago. 

It never occurred to me to take my heating pad with me, so I simply went through my usual routine and went to bed. Hours later I woke, unable to breathe. My back and chest hurt. My first thought, of course, was that this was something a hot bubble bath could cure. No. It did help relax me and ease the pain, but it was no magical cure. I remembered the heating pad, put it on the bed and turned it up to high. Ah yes, that was what I needed. By morning I would be a different person. Little did I know...

When morning came, the pain and painful breathing were still there, so I called my doctor to see if I could get an appointment to get a muscle relaxer. I got the doctor's nurse, and we went through a series of questions and I could tell where this was headed -- heart-related problems. Um, no. I did my best to convince him it was muscle, and he did his best to convince me to go to the emergency room. I have a phobia of hospitals, so, um, no. I was determined to talk him into the muscle theory. He was having none of it.

Go. To. The. Emergency. Room. 

I finally agreed, then called my mom, who came and got me. Right now, moms are the best thing ever invented! I called Steven and let him know what was happening, and to assure him nothing was going to stop me from boarding a plane on Saturday to see him. I also called work to let them know I'd be late because my doctor's nurse was insisting I waste time and money going to the emergency room.

My mom and I drove to the Valley Hospital and Medical Center in Spokane Valley, and once I told them the list of symptoms the phone nurse insisted I write down and give them, I was immediately escorted to an area to have an EKG, which was normal. Yay, because I told everyone within ear shot, several times, no matter what they found, they must fix it in time for me to board a plane to Texas on Saturday.

Next up? Drawing blood. Ha! No easy task where I'm concerned. My veins are difficult to find, so they have to take it out of my hand. What's worse than having blood drawn from your hand? Having an IV inserted into your wrist, again because they can't find veins. I was then whisked away to x-ray and brought back with results shortly to follow. No problems with the x-rays; however, the blood tests showed signs of elevated....something that means I could have blood clots or an extreme inflammation somewhere. Next step? Whisked off to have a CT scan.

I've never had a CT scan and apparently having an IV in my wrist required the consultation of three people before they could proceed. I also made sure I informed them that they were to find nothing because I had to be on a plane to Texas on Saturday (this was my theme for the day). They finally decided the dye or whatever could be injected into my wrist and did so. Once the scan was over, I was again whisked back to my little room where my mom was dutifully waiting. A short time later, the nicest doctor in the world (seriously) came in and asked if I wanted good or bad news first. Hit me with the bad. "You're not getting on a plane to Texas on Saturday." That was all I heard and I began sobbing.

Again, moms are the best invention ever because she heard everything he said. Once he left and she calmed me down, I had to ask her what was wrong with me. I had blood clots in my lungs, better known as a pulmonary embolisms. I could have had a stroke or died on the plane.

They did an ultrasound to find the root of the clot, which turned out to be behind my left knee, then checked me into the hospital for five days of absolutely no rest and a massive amount of confusing information.

All this is to say that we all feel aches and pains, but some need to be taken seriously. If mine hadn't happened to affect my breathing, I probably would have popped ibuprofen for days thinking it would go away, then I would have boarded that plane on Saturday.

Don't ignore aches and pains that stick around for a while or have no real cause. Call your doctor immediately. Believe me, it's better to have some tests run and find out all is well than to die because you thought your pains were normal. I'm a healthy person. This was proven by the million other tests they ran on me. So it can happen to anyone. They believe my pulmonary embolisms were caused by a medication I was taking, but it could be genetic. We're hoping I'll only have to take blood thinners and go in for routine tests for six months. Fingers crossed.

To anyone who made it this far in this long post, I know you've heard it all somewhere before. If I can help save someone else by posting my story, then this whole blog thing has been worth it.

42 comments:

  1. @Christy: I'm glad you're still alive, baby. Even if you've been grounded for a little while.

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  2. I love you dear friend and too am thankful your still here with us!

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  3. @Christy..thank you for sharing your story. I too have wound up in the at the Doctor's with pains in my chest, the first time I had pneumonia but she spotted something on my x-ray and thought it was something more. She insisted I go to the hospital at 4:30 p.m. and have the same time you have. They even had to call the tech back from home. Luckily, my test came back negative. I remember this vividly because when I finally arrived home that night after 7:30 p.m. in 2001 my husband had to tell me a close family friend had been killed in a truck accident.

    The second time it happened I was have a chest pains like you and ignored them for days until one day on the way home I thought I was having a heart attack and stopped at an ER on the way home. Mention chest pains and you are looked at right away. After many tests and an abnormal EKG (found out later, it was normal for me) they did a CT scan because my blood test came back abnormal. Again, the results were negative but I spent the night in the hospital and the bill was over $13,000. The bottom line was too much stress.

    So my advice to you Christy is take your Doctor’s advice, rest and then take your vacation…life is too short.

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  4. I am more than thankful you didn't get on that plane. I have big plans for that summer reunion with ALL my children in attendance. Love you sweet girl. Mom

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  5. I was wondering where you went on Twitter, glad you caught that in time and hope you get well soon so you can make that trip to Texas!

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  6. I'm very happy you didn't make it on that plane, but also very sorry your trip didn't pan out. :-( Feel better soon!

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  7. @Steven, me too, baby!

    @Anonymous, I'm really happy to still be here too!

    @Amanda, thanks for sharing your stories! Oh my! I'm glad you're OK. Believe me, I'm following the doc's orders to the letter. I'm now writing everything down.

    @Mom, I'm very thankful for you! You're the best!

    @TL Jeffcoat, thanks! Believe me, as soon as they tell me I can rebook that flight, it's done, even if I have to suffer the heat of summer. Although I hear y'all are having temps in the 90's now. I'll be back on Twitter soon.

    @Anna, thank you so much!

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  8. My best friend from elementary through high school died a year ago from a pulmonary embolism. It was very sudden and very sad, and he was in the hospital when it happened.

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  9. @Kevin, I'm so very sorry about your friend. That he was in the hospital is really frightening, and makes me realize even more just how fortunate I am. It wasn't my time to go.

    I had heard of them before and knew they were life-threatening, but didn't really know anything about them until last week. It took me a couple of days before I finally grasped the seriousness of my situation. The doctors and nurses kept repeating the phrase pulmonary embolism to me and telling me how lucky I was, but I wasn't getting it. And suddenly it clicked. I could have died, and I'm still at risk. They said I'm most likely to develop more within the first month. That's why I'll be monitored closely.

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  10. @All:
    I was kinda like @Christy: the gravity of the situation didn't really hit me even though all the evidence was there. It finally hit me hard the other day that if she'd gotten on that plane, that could've been all she wrote - game over. Scary. Freaky. Weird.

    I'd heard of blood clots and embolisms, but it was always something I'd heard on "E.R.", not real life. (I know far about it than I ever thought I would). It makes you think. A lot. Not to get all morbid, but death could come at any time, from so many different places, i.e. @Kevin DeRita's friend.

    I'm definitely guilty of ignoring "little" stuff, but not anymore. I can live with a hangnail (but I'll bitch about it), but strange pains where they shouldn't be? Uh-uh.

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  11. @Steven, exactly! Even pains we think we can explain away in some cryptic way, we need to take seriously. You just never know. I don't want to lose anyone I know like @Kevin did. I don't want to lose myself.

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  12. I'm glad you're still with us to write this. Can't believe it happened just before you were supposed to get on a plane. God isn't done with you yet on earth.

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  13. @Christy, thank goodness it happened when it did and not on that plane! (however heartbreaking that postponed trip may have been) I was just telling @Steven recently that although I am not a religious person, SOMETIMES I beleive there is a higher power that works in mysterious ways. First it brought you two together after all those years and second it just potentially saved your life by not allowing you on that plane. I say sometimes because tragedies still occur that I can find no justification for. I had also spoken to him about my brother in law who passed suddenly. He had surgery and was recouperating nicely. During a physical therapy session he collapsed and died within 4 minutes. It could have been a massive heart attack but they strongly suspect it was a blood clot. I always knew you could develop one as the result of a surgery or medications but I never knew they could be genetic! So happy your story has a happy ending.

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  14. @Laura and @Stacey: I'm not a particularly religious person, but the more I've allowed myself to think about what happened to @Christy, the more it makes me go "hmmm...". Divine intervention, providence, coincidence, take your pick: @Christy was 5 freakin' days from getting on a plane. 5 days. A work week.

    In my mind, I keep trying to make light of it. But in spite of my best efforts, the gravity of the situation keeps insinuating itself upon my consciousness. She could have died. That's really messing with my head. In a good, you-need-to-pay-attention kinda way. :-)

    @Christy: You said "...I don't want to lose myself." Whoa, dude. That's, like, totally existential, fer shure. (Hey, humor is my hammer.)

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  15. @Laura and @Stacey, I have no doubt God kept me off that plane and got me to the hospital (even though I was determine not to go) for a reason. Don't know what that is, but there's a reason.

    @Stacey, I'm sorry about your brother-in-law. Thank you so much for sharing. Part of the reason I posted this was to make people aware of signs and symptoms, but also the seriousness of it. Blood clots are much more frightening to me today than they were a week ago. And you're right, not getting to take the trip was heartbreaking, but it is just a postponed trip and I am very, very lucky I didn't go.

    @Steven, it's messing with my head in a you-need-to-pay-attention kinda way too. I keep thinking of that book deadline we talked about just, what, a night or two before all this happened? Maybe there's another reason I'm sticking around, but that could be one. ;-)

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  16. Book? Did I hear Book? Write dear daughter and get it published!!!! Please.

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  17. @Christy & Steven, why doesn't Steven fly up to visit Christy? Since Christy will be grounded for awhile and Steven sounds like he flexible in his work, maybe this would be a good time to help Christy in her recovery...just a thought.

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  18. @Amanda, good suggestion; however, he's already planning a trip to the area soon in preparation for his move up here later. Also, I'm mending well, and will be back at work next week. We've been talking about when we'll be able to be together and it will be soon.

    @Mom, I will. Give me time. :-)

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  19. Hi sweetie! Steven let me know what had happened and that you were not ignoring my request to visit your blog! What a shock! I am SOOOOO glad you are alright! Ya scer'd the bejesus outta me!

    Well, I finally made it here to give you warm wishes, healing thoughts and a big hug myself! So consider yourself blessed and hugged and all that mushy friend stuff!

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  20. Awwww! Thank you so much Anita! You're so sweet! I asked Steven while I was in the hospital to contact you because you were on my mind, and I was worried you might think I was ignoring you. I think I scer'd the bejesus outta a lot of people, including me!

    So happy you made it here, and I'll take hugs and mushy friend stuff any day! :-)

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  21. @Christy..glad to hear Steven going to be visiting you in the near future. So has he decided when he is going to be up to WA yet? I would wait until the weather is warmer...LOL!!

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  22. Holy...

    I can't leave town for a couple of weeks without you almost kicking the bucket! So glad you're alive and well! I just wrote @Steven an email about giving me the details. This was a great post.

    I'm still in the boonies, but in "town" now at a Starbucks. Will check in later. Stay healthy, little darling!

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  23. @Amanda, he's moving up in September. Just in time to wrap up the Texas heat and move up for to the cold, or at least a whole lot cooler. What a shock his body is in for! :-)

    @Hooka, I can't believe you made it online! Thanks for the well wishes. If you make it online again while "in the boonies," hope you're getting lots of writing done.

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  24. @Christy @Steven: I have a silly question. You Skype your prep, cook the meal but once dinner is ready, you log off and eat alone, why?

    I am glad you are OK and are on the road to recovery.

    I had a friend recently that went through minor surgery and passed away suddenly in the recovery room while speaking with the nurse. They think it may have been a blot clot, so you are very lucky.

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  25. @Curious, we don't always eat alone. We often eat together and talk while we eat. Sometimes though we've talked before we cooked or we've had a really tough day and just need some alone time. It works for us. :-)

    Thanks, I'm really glad I'm on the road to recovery too.

    I'm so sorry about your friend. I'm hearing more and more stories about people passing away from blood clots, and I'm realizing just how very fortunate I am.

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  26. @Christy, thanks for the info, makes sense.

    Thank you for the kind words about my friend. She was very special. Everyone loved her and she was friends with anyone who met her. She will be greatly missed but she had her share of medical problems and although we know she is no longer in pain it doesn't make us miss any less.

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  27. OMG! I had no idea @Christy! I'm so glad you didn't get on that plane, even though I know you were disappointed. What a scary experience for you, your family, and @Steven!

    I hope you're feeling much better and heal quickly. My prayers are with you.

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  28. @Michelle, thank you so much! It was very disappointing and scary, but I'm just happy to still be here! :-) I'm feeling much better now and on the road to healing.

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  29. Oh, I'm so sorry! I've been out of town dealing with my dad and all the stuff. But I'm really glad you're OK! I have pains all the time I ignore. It's so hard to tell when to call the doctor and when to just take Tylenol and move on. I'm so happy you went to the emergency room!

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  30. @Christy I'm writing like a fiend! It's great! Pooka and I are still worried about you. Also worried about @Steven. Haven't heard from him in a while. Hope all is well. Keep smiling, little darling, and for gosh sakes stay healthy! ;-)

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  31. @Denise, thanks! It is hard to know when to take things to the next level (emergency room) and when to just take a pill and move on. I'm sorry about everything going on with your dad.

    @Hooka, yay for writing like a fiend! I'm fine and will be as long as I do what I'm supposed to, which I am. @Steven hasn't been feeling well lately either, but all is well. He'll be fine.

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  32. OMG! @Christy I'm so sorry, but so glad you're OK! I was on @Steven's blog wondering where you were and what was going on because a few odd comments had been made, but no one said outright what happened to you. @Amanda sent me here. Really glad you're OK!!!

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  33. @Shay, thanks! I'm doing well, and getting better every day. Just have to follow the doctor's orders, which @Steven is helping me do. :-)

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  34. SWOON & RainApril 27, 2011 3:31 PM

    @Christy we are so sorry this happened to you and wanted you to know we're all thinking about you and have you in our prayers! We know you and @Steven are probably still very disappointed, but there is a reason you were kept off that airplane and the trip was postponed. Hang in there. This was a serious thing and we're just very happy you're still alive and mending.

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  35. @SWOON and Rain, thank you so much! I'm happy I'm still alive and mending too! :-)

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  36. Just checking in! And I just wanted to let everyone know how cool it is that you're checking in with us. Been a weird couple of weeks, but we're still here, alive and kicking, and that's a good thing. :-)

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  37. You are such a lucky girl! This may sound strange, but I'm glad you couldn't breathe so you had to go to the hospital. I'm sorry you didn't get to take your trip though. :-(

    Thanks goodness you're still with us! :-)

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  38. @Betty Lou: Christy and I were just asking about you last night! See all the drama you miss when you get busy! LOL! Nice to see you again. :-)

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  39. @Betty Lou, I agree it sounds strange, but I'm glad I couldn't breathe too. :-) It was very disappointing about the trip, but once I'm better, the trip can be rescheduled.

    And I am a very lucky girl! So glad to still be here to respond to everyone. :-)

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  40. @Christy I can't believe this happened to you! You're too young! Oh and you're trip to see @Steven! But I heard he's visiting you and that's great! I hope you're getting better. How long does it take to heal from this? Are you back at work or are you still home?

    My life is changing! Ask @Steven all about it! I've got a new man in my life and it's great! I'm feeling better than I have in a lot of years! :-)

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  41. Time for a new post..if you are feeling up for it. Maybe what you are going to be when Steve visit..or what your summer plans are...

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  42. Did anyone notice that @Hooka Looka blog is gone?

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