On Health

So last year, my body tried to kill me. I’m not even being cute about it. My body really tried to kill me. It started out with just a kidney stone (yes, while it may be the most excruciatingly painful thing I have *ever* experienced, compared to what came later, it was *just* a kidney stone), and culminated two and a half weeks later with bilateral pulmonary embolisms (a fancy word for giant blood clots in both of my lungs).

I ended up in the ICU for several days, not allowed to move or stand up or walk for fear part of a clot would dislodge and kill me. When I was first moved into the ICU from the ER, around 1am, I was chatty and cheerful and introducing myself to the nursing staff (who were all rock stars, by the way – I loved my nursing team). It hadn’t really sunk in just how serious things were. Sure, I was in the hospital, but that was the third time in less than three weeks (second overnight) and I had been fine before. It wasn’t until my favorite, no-nonsense nurse came to take my blood and brought me some not-great news about medication that I really got scared and realized just how serious everything was. Lynne had come to visit that weekend and see the house. She was on her way down when I checked into the ER. The Boyfriend had taken her and her daughter back to the house after a visit in the ER while I waited for a bed in the ICU. So I was alone in my dim room in the wee hours of the morning and I cried. It was probably a good thing I was alone – it was a pretty awful ugly cry. The nurse came back a few minutes later as I was drying my eyes.

“How are you doing, hon?”
“I’m okay. I’m fine.” (still wiping furiously at my eyes)
“Are you bummed?” A lump stuck in my throat and all I could do was nod at her. She half-laughed. “If that last bit of news didn’t get you, I was going to call psych for an eval… No one is ever that cheerful when they’re in here.”

Like I said, she was my favorite ICU nurse.

After a few days in the ICU, they moved me to another floor where I had another round of awesome nurses. And all the medication. Following a blood clot, the regular course of action is blood thinners. A lot of them. And it takes a few days to get levels where they need to be before they’ll send you out into the world. So, they monitored and tried to teach me to give myself injections. Haha. No. Hilariously, while I am covered in tattoos, I am actually really scared of needles. And actually, before my body decided to try to kill me, I was terrible about having blood drawn. Like pass out terrible. Now, I’m like, which arm do you want? It seems that having multiple vials drawn every four hours around the clock kind of kills that reaction. The nurse ended up teaching The Boyfriend how to give me the injections after I nearly passed out while trying to jab myself. It was pretty embarrassing.

Since last July, I have been on blood thinners. I have been required to have regular blood work to make sure my medication levels are where they should be. There have been more specialists than I can count. And there has been a ton of stress about everything. Every bruise had to be monitored, just in case I was bleeding more than I should. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to go back to school in the fall. I was only four weeks out of the hospital when classes started. I was barely back to work full time (that took some effort – four hours of work was causing me to sleep for 12-16 hours). How in the world was I going to add several hours of classes a night? I powered through it, pulled my best grades yet, and carried on. It was scary going from a fairly normal, healthy 30 year old, to being so sick that I could barely get myself to and from the office.

Last month, I finally went off the blood thinners, closing the door on a really stressful period of my life. But now I’m totally paranoid about clotting again. Yesterday, while driving to work, I felt a little bit of pain in my leg. It’s so hard to not immediately freak out and assume it’s another clot, even though leg pain was not one of my symptoms – it is a common symptom of DVT. Instead of freaking out, I decided since my school year is over and I’m *only* working now, I can start to incorporate exercise into my routine. The Boyfriend and I took The Puppy trail running. I had never been trail running before and can I just say OW! My hips are in so much pain, I’m walking like an 80 year old. Stairs are laughable. And I can’t wait to go back out tomorrow night! I’m perusing running apps and looking for Spotify playlists. This is the summer that I am going to get into a routine of working out and really taking care of my body. Perhaps if I take good enough care of it, it won’t be such an a-hole and won’t try to kill me in the future?

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