Tuesday, April 10, 2012

10 on 10 (#4) | A Day in the Life of Rox


It's been a wild ride the past few weeks.  I am sooooo thankful for life.  (This will likely be a long post...grab a cup of coffee).  So many people have asked about my story.  Here goes...

On March 22nd, I knew I was going to visit my doctor.  I had been in to see him on Monday, the 19th because I had been coughing up small bits of blood, which I attributed to allergies.  My lung x-ray that day was normal, so the doc thought it might just be bronchitis.  A couple of days on antibiotics, and I knew things weren't getting better.  Wednesday night, my pulse jumped up to 118 when walking from my couch to my bedroom.  Not normal!  Then, Thursday, I went into work and called in for an appointment that morning.  When I left work late that morning, I finished walking one block to my van and thought, "it's only one more block, you can do it."  Who thinks that - besides those finishing a long race?  It was scary.  My pulse went up into the 130s after walking those two blocks.  By the time I got to my appointment, my pulse was at 142!  Needless to say, a nurse wheeled me over to the ER and I was immediately admitted.

In the ER, they started treating me for pulmonary embolism (PE), even though they hadn't run any tests.   The facts were:  my sister died not much more than a year ago because of a pulmonary embolism, I had traveled by plane in February, I was on Yaz (birth control pills) - as was my sister, and I had symptoms of PE.   The nurse administered a Lovenox shot in my stomach, which would continue every 12 hours for 7 more days.  I still have bruises.  Once I had an IV established, they wheeled me off for a CT scan.  It showed massive amounts of PEs (blood clots) in both lungs, and my pulmonary arteries were distended.  It only takes one PE for one to meet the creator...and unfortunately, my family knows that all too well.  The ER doctor told me that I was not to move, and that if I had to pee, I was to pee the bed.  Scary!  They attempted another IV since I would be going up to ICCU.  It took 6 tries (3 different people) to get one established.  My poor veins.  Once in the ICCU, they performed ultrasounds on my heart and legs.  Although my heart was working overtime, the heart doctor determined it was still in good shape and so the goal was to get my pulse and blood pressure down so it didn't have to work so hard.  The ultrasound of my legs showed a DVT (deep vein thrombosis = blood clot) in my right leg behind my knee.  The instructions to remain still were still in effect for fear that it would break loose and move up to join the others in my lungs.  We had to resort to a bedpan for the first couple of days, and once they started me on Coumadin/warfarin, they allowed me to use the commode.  That is something I hope never to experience again - bedpans suck!

After 4 days in the ICCU, they moved me to the main floor, where I was still hooked up the heart monitor 24/7.  I spent an additional 5 days in the hospital.  I was happy to have the little bits of mobility back in my life, but I was also hesitant to overdo it.  The concern from my family and doctors, and knowing how lucky I was really made me cautious - and still does.

I am home.  I am up and walking - although no high impact activities.  I was instructed to not walk on a treadmill, just go for small walks to build my energy back up, keep my blood flowing, and hopefully help my lungs resume their normal capacity.  I wear out easily, but all is good.  When I'm resting, my legs must be elevated.  The clot in my leg is likely still there until my body reabsorbs it.  The clots in my lungs are likely still there, but hopefully being reabsorbed by my body as well.  With warfarin, my blood is thin (too thin at times), so we are hoping to reduce the risk of any more clots.

I found out on April 5th that genetic tests done at Mayo revealed that I have Factor V Leiden (heterozygote), a hereditary clotting disorder.  Heterozygote means that I only inherited one copy, so only one of my parents passed it on.  It's amazing that we even have this information because after doing a bit of research on my own, I found that they only recognized this disorder in 1994 (the year I graduated from high school).  It's not something that is routinely tested for because only 5% of the caucasian American population have this, and about only 10% of those that have it actually have clots.  There are other factors that can increase this risk, and the use of birth control pills is one factor, which both my sister and I had.  It is assumed that my sister had FVL as well.  This will be a lifelong ride for me, but I refuse to worry.  I vow to take care of myself, instead, and be an advocate for my kids if they inherited it.  There is a 50/50 chance that they have it, and we plan to proceed with testing so they have more knowledge about this condition for themselves.   I'm just grateful that I can continue to live my life, and that I know the symptoms now.

The following images cover my 10 on 10 and were taken on April 4th.  One of the beautiful Spring days we had, and one of the many days I cherished.  Here are some flowers from friends.  I managed to receive 3 arrangements similar to this.  And perfectly in time for Easter.  Ayla painted the little treasures for me, too.

I've been trying to find recipes to make when I am allowed to (thank you, Pinterest).  My Mom has been awesome and filled my freezer with casseroles, and some of our great friends have brought meals to us as well.  It is the most helpful thing ever!!!  I'm not one to request the help or expect the help, but when I found I couldn't even do the smallest things without wearing out, it was the most appreciated gesture from others I could have received (besides prayer).

This is what I get to look forward to taking every night.  Step aside birth control (forever), warfarin is in town.  I think it's fun to tell my kids that I'm ingesting rat poison.  They now know the story of how warfarin was used to kill rats, as upon ingestion they would bleed to death - and because some amazing person used their brain, this is now used medicinally to save people's lives!

The pets seem to love my company.  I usually have at least one animal within reach if not on top of me.  Skeeter took his turn.

My Thermos Sipp water bottle is my favorite!  It keeps the water cold, and that's the only way I can drink it.  I've had to make sure I'm drinking enough - another way to keep the blood balanced.

Since I'm supposed to get up to walk frequently throughout the day, I decided to take my camera out with me a few different times.  I've been walking by the trees in our front yard and thankfully, they held off blooming until I got home!  I really enjoyed watching the red buds bloom outside my hospital window, but I was really hoping that Spring wouldn't fly past while I was in there.  Fresh cut grass, and blooming trees make my day!

Leaves unfurling.

Trees blooming.


Be sure to check out Karen Porter, Photographer's blog, Austin TX Photographer, for her 10 on 10 contribution!


Wendi said...

Rox, I've been so worried, and am SO glad that you are home! You are so strong and incredible, and I know you won't let this get you down!!!

heidi said...

I am so glad you are okay-Thank goodness you were able to figure this out in time-yes, every every day truly is a blessing...thank you for sharing.

Licia said...

Hey Rox! I am so glad you shared your story. I was wondering what had happened and where you were at with all of the medical stuff now. Prayers will continue for you. You have an AMAZING outlook on life. I can learn so much from you----we all can. Keep sharing, because the impact you are making will go far beyond what you can even imagine. Hang in there! Maybe we can come by for a visit in June, once I am done teaching for the school year. Love you!

Ginger said...

Wow, what a journey you've been on! I'm glad you are okay. This was a reminder to me to be grateful, something I try to do, but forget often. Thanks for sharing. I love your blossom images, just divine.

denean said...

wow!! I am so glad you are home and getting stronger, and that you have answers now. I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. Blod clots run in my family too, but no one has ever beed tested for FVL... I thank you for the info. I will keep you in my prayers... you are one strong, amazing woman!!

cm said...

My strong girl, you will rock forever! You know I have your back, and am maintaining the NCZ. I'm thanking the Lord every day that I still have you. This will not defeat you. Love you!!!

Katie said...

Wow, what a story! Thank you for sharing. I'm so sorry about your sister and I know that was scary for you to go through something similar. So glad you have answers now for handling it and moving on. Wow, so so scary.

On another note, the cat image made me smile because cats, as snotty as they are, always seem to know when you're down and plop themselves right next to you. :)

You deserve a gold star for going through what you went through and still posting! So glad you're doing better!

Karen said...

Rox, I cannot even imagine what you went through (and your whole family). I am so very thankful that you are doing better and even more so that the doctors were able to pinpoint the cause. Thank goodness. Your photos are beautiful and your attitude is amazing. Thank you for sharing.