In order to really share my story with you, I need to go back to 2003. That’s when things really changed in our lives. My husband and I were happily married, I was pregnant with our fifth child and while we struggled financially, we were happy and grateful for our blessings.
In April of that year, I gave birth to a tiny, yet healthy baby girl, but I was not well. I had been feeling like something was wrong since February, but the doctors had ignored my concerns and even after I gave birth, they sent me home the next day with a fever and an inability to move my right leg (even though I hadn’t had anesthesia). Over the next few days, I returned to the ER several times, only to be sent away with antibiotics, instructions to rest, pain meds, etc. Nothing was helping and I felt like I was dying. I was in excruciating pain and I had fevers fluctuating up to 105 degrees. Finally, a week after Hannah was born and much persistence on my part that something was wrong, I was diagnosed with two blood clots – on my ovarian vein and renal vein.
Once I was admitted to the hospital, things only got worse after the doctors administered Heparin, which it turns out I’m allergic to. By the time they stopped the Heparin, I actually had clots in my femoral veins, iliac veins, ovarian vein, renal vein, and my inferior vena cava, among others. It was devastating. At that point I couldn’t walk and my doctor actually told my husband and me to call our family and friends from out of town because he did not expect me to make it more than a couple more days. They could not get the clotting to stop and blood has to flow in order for a person to live. As a last resort, he also suggested that they transfer me to a hospital in another state where a specialist might save my life.
We spent the next few weeks fighting for my life. The specialist managed to keep me alive. He treated the hyperactive clotting as a blood cancer and with a blood chemotherapy he was able to get the clotting to go into “remission,” for lack of a better description.
My life had been spared, but that didn’t mean it was going to be easy. When I finally came home from the hospital, I had a 7-yr-old, 5-yr-old, 3-yr-old, 2-yr-old and newborn to care for, but I could no longer walk, I was literally in constant pain and I had begun to suffer from migraines due to the blood thinner they had me on at the time.
It took me over 18 months to learn to walk again. At first I used a wheelchair and then a walker. I tried as much as possible to walk on my own, but it was incredibly painful. I was trying to force blood to flow in areas that had been blocked off for so long.
Not only was this process horrendously painful, but it was also emotionally draining. My life had been forever changed. I had a family to care for, but oftentimes they were caring more for me than I for them. Over the next ten years, I just focused on trying to regain my health and help my blood flow well.
2014 – This is a photo of where I have had clots. Most of the ones below my waist have calcified so they are actually still there. I grew collateral veins to create blood flow so that’s the only reason I’m alive and walking.
I wrote this post several years ago for the sake of being able to share the story with people without having to actually write it repeatedly. It’s still difficult for me emotionally to talk about it because I do live with daily reminders of how this has impacted my life. With that said, these days I have much to be grateful for! I am walking well. I exercise regularly, eat well and enjoy life. I love my husband and children and we’re blessed to know what a treasure it is to be in one another’s presence. I try to focus on these things rather than the pain or the loss.
I hope my story has been of some encouragement to you.