Seven years ago, I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Embolisms (PE). Turned out that what I thought was a back ache was my lung slowly dying. Turned out that the excruciating pain I was having when breathing was my body screaming for oxygen, not walking pneumonia.
I spent a lovely week in ICU. I survived and went on a regiment of blood thinners and a diet sans most green things (although occasionally, I just cannot resist a good Caesar salad or tender asparagus). In the back of my mind, I am constantly scanning my body for any odd quirks or twinges that might signal something serious.
On Monday, after a weekend of intense deep cleaning of the house (we had a buggy issue) I woke up with a slight twinge in my back. While annoying, I attributed it to the weekend work and a possible muscle strain. I went on with my day. I brought the girls to zoo camp. I spent a quiet child-free day puttering around the house.
On Tuesday, I woke up feeling yucky. My back hurt a little more, I was still tired and groggy. And that was after I had actually gone to bed at a decent hour. I brought the girls to zoo camp and spent the day running errands. That night, still feeling gross and now mildly concerned about my back I vowed that I would get back into good habits and back into a healthier lifestyle. That night I blogged about my goals and promised myself to make changes in my life.
On Wednesday morning, around 3:30 am I woke up, still in pain and unable to get comfortable in bed. A warning sign flashed behind my eyes as I lay in the bed trying to go back to sleep. “Danger! Danger!” it flashed. You remember this kind of pain, my brain told me. I wanted to ignore my brain. I really did. But dutifully, I filed a Post-It note right in my cerebral cortex with big bold words in red: IF Deep breath=Pain THEN Go to Doctor ASAP!! Proud of my mental filing system, I got out of bed (there wasn’t anyway I was going back to sleep) and walked the dog.
After that, I felt ok. Not great, but not…panicked. Until…
My friend from work was hosting a Tastefully Simple party and as it sounded fun and as it involved food and being child-free, and as it was good company, I went. About halfway through, my early morning wake-up call caught up with me and I yawned. Big. Deep breathe in = Sharp stabbing pain.
My mind ripped through my mental Post-Its and landed on the one I wrote that morning. Refusing to panic, I acknowledged the symptoms that were so reminiscent of what I went through seven years ago. I went home. Told Scott and made arrangements to go the ER the following day.
On Thursday morning, I brought the girls to zoo camp and made the decision that I would wait until after I picked Cyra up to go to the ER. I was afraid of how long the testing would take and that Cyra and Ashleigh would be stranded. Obviously, I had people I could call, but I did not want anyone to panic. (I’m considerate.)
So Cyra and I headed to the ER. Scott met us there. And after seven hours of testing I left with a clean CT scan, a clean chest x-ray, a bruise from the I.V. line, and a diagnosis of “undetermined back/chest pain.” The doctor felt that it is most likely muscle strain, but that it was good that I came in because my Coumadin levels were too high. And as he said, “Pulmonary Embolisms aren’t something to play around with. And while there isn’t anything wrong with you, it is good to know that you are listening to what your body is telling you.”
Today I woke up after very few hours sleep, comforted in the knowledge that I woke up at all, pleased in my desired lifestyle changes and motivated to get started!