5 years ago on this day my whole world came down. I still can't believe it when I think back on it. I can remember details so vividly. I would never wish that kind of stuff on anyone. I thought I would write out what exactly happened, if anyone cared. Maybe my story would help others see warning signs and know what to do. I have to give a little background information first though...
They found out about a week before Rachel was due that she was breech. We had actually gone through that with Caleb, too. They were able to turn Caleb around but with Rachel they had no luck. My only option was a c-section. I was nervous, but I knew people had them every day, so I thought i'd be fine. The surgery itself actually went very smoothly. I left after the typical 3 days in the hospital, and I was recovering fine at home. I even went off my pain meds pretty early because I was feeling so much better.
Then one day I noticed I was feeling some pain in my left calf muscle. (this was about 3 weeks after Rachel had been born.) I thought it was strange but just let it go. My mom was over that day helping me when Arnold had gone back to work. I happened to mention it to her and she said to be safe she would watch the kids while I went to the dr to get it checked out. I went to my gyno/OBGYN to have it checked. The doctor said it was probably a bad sprain and it would be fine soon. She said I could take pain meds for it if it really bothered me. She never ran any tests on me.
So I went about my normal life and around mid July the pain was starting to feel a little better and I figured it was working it's way out of my system. On the night of July 22nd, Arnold and I dropped the kids off with his mom and dad so we could get some shopping done for Caleb's birthday party, which was coming up soon. We were walking around having a great evening kid-free, when I started feeling some pain in my chest. I told Arnold about it, and he said "it's probably just heartburn." I remembered thinking I hardly ever get heartburn, so that was strange, and it hurt more than that. But we went on our way, and went to get some dinner at Wendy's. Eventually we went to Arnold's mom and dad's house to pick up the kids. While sitting on the couch I remember a sharp pain go through my chest and I felt SO strange, I couldn't explain it. So Arnold's parents called 911. The paramedics came out and looked me over and said I seemed fine, and maybe I was having a panic attack. They said I was so young that they doubted it was any heart problems. They asked if I wanted to go in the ambulance, and I said no.
Arnold eventually decided to take me to Frye ER just to check to be sure. Arnold, his dad, and my parents waited with me sitting in a wheelchair, until a spot opened up. Then we went through all the typical tests.. blood tests, xrays, EEGs, and nothing was found. The drs thought I was fine and said there was one more thing they could do.. a CT scan.. so I agreed and went and had it done. When I got back to my room, I started putting on my clothes because I figured we'd be released soon. Within a few minutes a dr came rushing in and said "lay down in that bed." I said "well ok, but can I go to the bathroom.. I need to pee pretty badly!" he said "ummm no. I need you to lay down now." I was confused but laid down. The next thing I know they were hooking me up to all sorts of IVs and machines and shot me up with a lot of morphine. before the medicine really hit, the DR came in and I heard him tell Arnold "we got the CT scan back, and her lungs are showered with bloot clots." I remember being stunned, but I was starting to feel the effects of the morphine, so I didn't quite understand. We later found out that the calf pain had been a big bloodclot in my leg, that I had gotten after my surgery (can be common after surgery) and not knowing it was there, I had walked around for weeks without knowing. It had broken apart, and pieces had gone into my lungs, which could be fatal. So they were very concerned.
The next thing I remember was being wheeled to an elevator and them taking me up to the ICU. When they wheeled me into the room a man asked me if I had a will or if I wanted my heart re-started if anything were to happen to me. I said "no" and at that point it didn't really sink in the severity of the situation, because I was so drugged. I remember Arnold starting to call our parents (by that time it was after midnight) and telling them the situation. They would only let 2 people in to visit me at a time, and it had to be at certain hours. And they had to be immediate family, and adults. So the first visitor I remember having was my mom. She sat by my bedside crying while I tried to eat some food they had brought me, and I remember her saying "please be ok Abby, please don't die."
Every couple of hours they would let visitors in, Arnold would come and see me. All I did was lay there, they did everything for me. Sponge washed me, fed me.. I basically couldn't move a muscle. They hooked me up to a PICC line which is an IV that constantly stays in you, and I was given very high doses of bloodthinners to help break up the bloodclots. I wasn't allowed out of bed, for fear of the bloodclots moving to other parts of my lungs and heart, and cutting off my oxygen and killing me, or giving me a stroke. I had some of the nicest nurses ever, and even though it was embarassing having them handle my every need, including emptying my bedpan. One nurse actually let my family "sneak" Rachel in to see me for a few minutes. She was only 5 weeks old at the time, and they believed it was worth it for her to see her Mommy. I was so thankful for that time.
So this went on for a few days until I was eventually able to move to a regular room. Although I was still on strict bedrest. At least family members and friends were able to come visit me then.People brought me chocolates, cards, milkshakes, Papa john's pizza, and all sorts of gifts. My Best friend Joanne brought me a "get well" bear that I still have to this day, and it stays in my bedroom. It was hard, I had to miss so many things that week, including a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert I was supposed to go to with my Father in law.. he had gotten me tickets for my birthday. I did ask them if I could leave for it, but they said no... ha.
Eventually 8 days later, they said I should be safe to go home. A nurse helped me get a shower.. my first one in over a week! Do you know what it feels like to stand up after not moving out of a bed in over a week?! I was so tired, weak, and lightheaded. It was awful. The nurses taught Arnold how to give me bloodthinner shots in my hip. He had to do that every night at home for quite a while, then I moved on to pills for about a year. Arnold taking me home that evening and getting back into my house and seeing my kids was amazing. I was so glad to be home.
After all this mess I had many appts at specialists.. and during blood tests they told me they did NOT find the gene that made people more likely to get bloodclots. So it was from the surgery, and a freak thing. We think while I was sitting for long periods of time breastfeeding Rachel... I got the bloodclot in my leg. I am now off bloodthinner pills, and they say I should be fine, but to be extra careful on planerides or long trips from now on, and make sure to walk every once in awhile... just in case.
During that time it was very stressful on us. We had a newborn, I had a close call with death, Arnold used up ALL his vacation time and was having to work odd hours over night and watch the kids. All our family members helped with the kids, too. I was away from my young children for 8 days. We had medical bills coming out of the air. And it put a huge strain on our marriage. I started having PTSD and started going to a therapist to help me, and eventually went on medicines to help me with major panic attacks I was having every single day. I thank God so much for getting us through that time. Arnold and I have a hard time speaking of that summer, and for some time beyond that, because we just didn't know if we'd make it through.
So there ya go.. my story. Pretty scary huh? Thinking back on it, it still seems like yesterday. I can't believe I have come this far. I am thankful I am healthy, for the most part, and not at HUGE risk for another bloodclot. And if anyone every wondered why Arnold and I stopped having kids after Rachel.. the medical reasons were why. I was told it would be very unsafe to go through another pregnancy and surgery. I had a hard time dealing with the decision for the longest time, but I know deep down it is the right thing to do. If we ever do have another child down the road, it will be through adoption, which is just fine with me :)
This is the only picture I have of me in the ICU. It looks like your typical hospital pic with a new baby, but it's not. Rachel is 5 weeks old there, and just visiting me for a few minutes. I was hooked up to every machine you could imagine, very drugged, and very weak and pale, as you can see.
Sorry this picture is gross, but I wanted to document what my bloodthinner shots made my hip look like. My entire side was bruised up and nasty for the longest time. Arnold had to give me injections every night and he said it was hard to do, because he hated to see me in pain.