Death stares us in the face on a daily basis. We don’t realize it. We go on with our lives not thinking twice about anything. If you are my age and think like I used to think, you know you aren’t invincible, but you simply don’t think about how life can take one turn without warning and you are staring death in the face.
Last year, life was going along like it always does until one morning when I woke up knowing that something was drastically wrong. I found myself in the hospital for 5 days, mostly in the ICU, surgery the day of my admittance, recovery period where I was out of work for several months, I had to use a walker, I couldn’t even stand long enough to take a shower, so much more…nine months later, I’m still in my recovery stages. The life that I knew changed over night. I wasn’t in a car accident, I didn’t have some major accident, I had a DVT – Deep Vein Thrombosis. Simply stated, I had a blood clot that ran from my ankle, all the way up my leg into my vena cava (the vein that joins both veins in your leg and meets in your abdomen) and starting to go into my right leg.
At the time, I knew nothing about blood clots. I knew “old” people got them and that you can die from them. That’s the extent of it. I didn’t know that roughly 300,000 Americans die per year as a result of DVTs. I didn’t know that anyone can get one. I didn’t know that there were blood conditions that make you more susceptible to receiving one. I didn’t know that I had one of those conditions (Factor V Leiden).
I now live with Post Thrombotic Syndrome or Postphlebitic Syndrome (same thing, different name) and my life is forever changed. I am trying to get my strength and flexibility back. Everyday things such as shopping and even sitting or standing has to be done with much consideration. Leg cramps, coughing, dizziness, all of these things can now result in a trip to the hospital as I never know if or when I may get another DVT.
When I was admitted to the hospital, my children were 14 and 7 years old. I am a single mom. Our world primarily consists of just us. I am my children’s care taker 24/7. They do not have weekend visits with Dad. They don’t go away for weeks or even nights at a time. Grandma and Grandpa live several hours away. We have no family in the area although we do have wonderful friends. My children and I are a tight family. Needless to say, my events terrified them.
I had an incident of concern yesterday and my daughter, although trying to be strong, was barely holding herself together. I was puzzled by this. I knew that whatever was going on was not a big deal, I just needed to get it checked out. She finally admitted to me that the day she went to the hospital, the very first words she heard was from the surgeon stating, “She’s lucky to be alive.”
I was fine the night before. I wasn’t fine the next morning. While I live with the physical results of my disorder, I think it is my daughter who has suffered the most. She knows and understands that I really should have died. She lives in fear that I just might. How do you comfort that? How do you convince a child that you are safe when the reality is, we just never know.
I fully believe that I am alive so that I can continue to mother my children. I will not tempt this fate, this second chance at life. If only I could erase the burden of fear that my daughter now carries…
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