1. Little Yellow Leaf

    Notes: 23

    As all the other leaves float off and fly past, Little Yellow Leaf thinks, I’m not ready yetAs the seasons change all around, Little Yellow Leaf holds on to the tree. Still not ready.” - Excerpt from The Little Yellow Leaf by 

    This is not a short post, as the suffering has not been short. Consider it more of a short story of my life last fall…

    A year ago I was under the assumption that the weather change and fatigue were making me feel ill. I felt like a leaf being pummeled by the wind, pelleted by the rain and sucked of all life by the crisp air. Little did I know that I was dying. Harsh, I know! I would never have given a second thought to the havoc one tiny pill a day was wreaking on my body. Side effects are so rare, bad reactions almost never happen… You hear it on TV but nothing bad could ever happen to me! My doctor and I felt that it would make my severe menstrual complications disappear. We were right, for about 4 months. 

    It feels so distant, yet eerily recent. At the end of September 2010, I began to feel winded going down the stairs, would breathe very heavily walking to the printer at work, even getting ready for work was causing me to wheeze. As I said before I attributed it to the season changing, ignoring my co-workers insisting I see my Doctor. I made every excuse I could throughout the week, blaming the food I was eating, exhaustion from caring for a sick pet and I even remember saying one day “I think I have angina!” (Which is when an area of your heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen-filled blood). Don’t you think that could have been a red flag? I was oblivious.

    By Wednesday the 22nd, I called the Doctor said I think I might be anemic and made an appointment for the following week to put everyone’s mind at ease. I did not sleep well that night, as the labored breathing became painful when I inhaled at bedtime. Thursday was no better, it was definitely worse. I hadn’t been focused all week, but on the 23rd, if you go back and read some of my emails at work you can tell something was not right. I’ll never forget how slowly I had to get in the car that afternoon (moving any way shape or form was beginning to bring stabbing pain in my ribcage) and when I pulled down my vanity mirror I watched myself breathing. Breathe in, wince, nostrils flare, wince, breathe out, start crying. I could tell something was seriously wrong but just promised to go to the Doctor in the morning if it was not better. I ordered out so that I wouldn’t have to cook, and I think that food sat in my fridge for two weeks. I did not sleep that night. 

    Friday the 24th of September 2010. I come into work exhausted and pale. Everyone is now concerned. I spent the first hour looking up clinics near by, only to rush out before 9AM because I was getting a little worried. Kathy, one of my co-workers wouldn’t let me drive. I guess I looked that bad off. We walked into the clinic and they took me right away. I guess “unable to breathe” is something they take kind of seriously. After a slew of questions (including the pill question) and some kind of breathing treatment. The “doctor” thought I might have pneumonia, so she sent me for an Xray and blood work. At that point I didn’t know what would be right or wrong to do with a pneumonia. At that point I just didn’t care. I just wanted to feel better. 

    After the bloodwork I was sent across town for x-rays and given a Z-pack for the pneumonia & an inhaler. That inhaler would later save my life. After reading about what the Z-pack was for I was a little concerned that I didn’t have any of the symptoms being treated. Exhausted, frail and so over it I went home and was able to take a 2 hour nap. Sitting completely vertical. Holding totally still. 

    Not feeling better after the medicine, the rest of the night was really a very painful, weary blur. The most annoying song was stuck in my head and it was ALL that I could hear. (Captain & Tennille Love Will Keep Us Together) After the 347th time it went through my brain I deemed it was okay to call my Mother Saturday the 25th. She begged me to go to the Emergency Room. Honestly I didn’t want to go, but I think I thought that because I was too afraid to go. 

    I took care of my pets, showered, tossed the animals a little more food (just in case I was in the ER for more than a few hours) and stepped out the door. Walking down the 12 steps to outside I had to take two hits off the inhaler to be able to breathe. Walking to, and sitting in the car was another two hits. Buckle seatbelt. Drive. Hit. I drove to the only hospital I remember at this point, Riverview. They checked me in, and after my brief question session (somehow the pain was at about a 6 here) the nurse asked if I was able to walk back to the gurney. I said yes, glad that I would be out of there soon. I felt almost normal at that point, though I suppose now it was just some kind of weird adrenaline. 

    An IV was started, and that made me nervous. I did NOT like needles. It make me sick feeling that needle go into my arm. I sat awkwardly on the gurney, and asked for some water so I could take my pill. No one obliged me, so I listened to the young lady through the curtain complaining about the wait, that she had a headache and that they better have someone in to see her soon. I don’t remember how much time passed, but the Dr. came to see her and assessed her head injury from a “seizure” two days before… said they’d get her up to CT in a few minutes. He barely introduced himself (he looked like a short Chris Daughtry) and asked me if I was taking oral contraceptives. When I wheezed a “yes, but I need some water to take my pill for today…” he disappeared. Two seconds later the nurse returned and announced over the walkie-talkie she was taking me to CT. Head-injury girl was not happy about that, and I could hear her bitching the entire time I rolled away. 

    In CT, I was crying sitting there. The very nice ladies made me lay down, and I remember saying; “I’m sorry I’m probably going to scream.” I was right. Pain level 1-to-10 and I was at a solid 13. Laying down on that board was probably the most excruciating pain I had been in. Tears were coming out of my ears, and I could barely breathe, which is not a good thing when you are having trouble breathing. They used the contrast dye, and I thought I pissed my pants. It seems like it was over before it began though the pain lingered for what seemed like 5 years. I was back up in the ER, head-injury girl was being sent home with a few pills and told to lay off the bottle a little. 

    I remember sitting there, texting a few people and hoping they would take my mind off of the pain. I can not describe adequately the pain. It’s worse than kidney stones (had them) and worse than the worst migraine that lasts days and days (had them too).  

    Even now as I write this my breath catches in my chest. My nurse came by, looking like she was going to give me some pain medication. I asked to hold off several times, but I think she could see how much pain I was in even though I was essentially silent. Before I could realize what she was doing *STING* I was receiving a shot in my belly. **POKE** Another. These weren’t like a flu shot, they each took about 25 seconds to administer. While she was giving me these shots she quietly said: “These are Lovenox. It’s a blood thinner. You’ll be getting a lot of them while you’re here. They’re for blood clots. You have two.” After she was done she asked again about pain medicine… I said yes. “While you’re here” didn’t register yet. 

    I think I internally lost it then. A million emotions at once. Is it too late? Am I going to die? People die with blood clots. What about my pets? Jacqui is at work. Kelly is in New Hampshire. Momma is at a wedding. Who do I call? What do I do? No one knows and I’m going to die here. I heard the doctor & nurse discussing what was happening and I remember hearing “72 hours maximum…” “this is serious, put her on the cardiac floor.” “Monitor her.” It took me a while to realize they were talking about my life.

    It sounds stupid, but I was scared. I was able to get ahold of Kelly, her Mama & kiddo would care for my pets until Kelly or Jacqui could get down. I talked to Jacqui. I talked to a few of my coworkers to let them know what was happening. I talked to Sabra & my grandma. I was so scared, so alone. I have never felt that way before. Ever. My Momma finally got to her phone. She sounded a little shaky, but was holding up so well. I needed her. I wanted her with me right that second. The Morphine was kicking in, and the Doctor was on my cell with my Mommy. I was worried. I was scared. I felt kind of sick, I hadn’t eaten in 3 days and Morphine was in every cell of my body. 

    I got wheeled up to a room, and all I could think of was: Pain. Vomit. Pain. Puke. Pain. Dizzy. Pain. PUKE. I was going to puke, and I was going to puke any second. As soon as I got into my bed, they had a nurse doing a blood gas draw. More painful than anything I can imagine trying to explain. Google it. It was not fun. As he told me to “hold still” and he stabbed the artery in my wrist, I blew chunks in the pink bucket. 

    "Sorry!" I called. I puked several times and every time I said that.  

    The night flew by in a blur. Lois came and brought me socks, underthings and made sure I had food that wouldn’t make me puke. She’s been through something similar and she was an angel to me. Kailah & Mrs. Mary were saints and took care of my pets and brought me underwear my phone charger and my pillow. Oh my pillow!

    I received news that night from Jacqui that my Momma would be with me Sunday. In less than 24 hours. I will never be able to repay them for that gift. Two of the people I needed most I was going to have with me! 

    It was hit or miss how I would feel from one moment to the next. Jacqui & Momma took such  good care of me. They did my laundry (Sorry!) and took care of my pets. One of which was very sick. I can never thank them enough. 

    The shots continued. The anticoagulant pills continued. The bloodwork every few hours continued. I didn’t sleep. I could barely eat. I was taking benadryl (allergic reaction to the needles) two percocets and a xanax every few hours. I received many visitors, many cards & gifts and a lot of love. I was in the hospital for a total of 6 days & 5 nights. All inclusive? Eh, not so much. I had a few fabulous nurses and have come away from this with an amazing Doctor. Dr. Aggarwal was my pulmonologist after I was released. I still visit him any time I need medical care.

    I had several CT scans, ultrasounds on my legs and chest… I was in the middle of an ultrasound when I lost my breath once. I literally couldn’t take in oxygen, and I was ON oxygen! Even though there was no Family history, even though I didn’t drink or smoke I was instructed on how the rest of my life would be. How conceiving a child could put my life at risk just like that little pill. I will have to be so careful, and some days I wonder if it will be worth it. The time has not come to make a decision, but I know that I will make the right one when it comes to children one day. 

    I was told on the following Tuesday I could leave the hospital if I was able to continue giving myself the Lovenox shots. I had cabin fever, I was profusely bleeding (they stopped the estrogen and your period + anticoagulants + blood thinners = HELL) and I wanted a fucking shower. Needless to say I threw a 2 year old fit. There was no way. NO WAY I could give myself those shots. They aren’t normal shots yall. They HURT.LIKE.HELL. Kelly saved the day with that one, and told me she would be more than capable to give me those shots. She even came in one night and practiced with the nurse. If that girl doesn’t get her butt in gear and become a caregiver, I will punch her in the baby maker. 
    Here’s some photographical giggle inducing photos for you because I know your eyes are tired of reading:

     
     
     

    The trauma didn’t stop after I was discharged (anyone else hate that word?). The aftercare for blood clots can be tedious and trying. Not to mention the bruises and tenderness EVERYWHERE, your diet has to be consistent and specific. You can’t miss your medicine. You have to have regular bloodwork. You can’t do this. You can’t do that. No exercise. NO EXERCISE DID YOU HEAR ME?! It was not a fun time for me. It was scary and I still have phantom pains. Even now, as I write to you (assuming you’ve made it this far) I feel phantom pains in my chest and legs. I feel the familiar fear that there is something wrong. Thankfully this time I know it will fade, it is not real. 

    My moral of this very, very, excruciatingly long post is that you must be aware of what you put in your body. I’m not talking tylenol or cheeseburgers. A chemical or medicine that will change your body chemistry and total makeup isn’t good for you. I know it works for many women, for many reasons… but you must listen to your body and know the warning signs of an issue in case you are like me. 

    Just because it is “rare” doesn’t mean it wont happen to you. I strive to tell my story, albeit long, to as many young women as I can. This thing that happened to me was a sign from God that I shouldn’t alter what he made. I still don’t understand his reasoning for endometriosis, or the pain I continue to go through but there is one, I am sure. That’s one thing that gets me through. Everything happens for a reason! /cliché.

    I am thankful for the many people who pulled me through this, who were my trees - deeply rooted in the ground to be safe and strong for me. While I was but a little yellow leaf struggling to hold on while the elements beat down on me. You knew I just wasn’t ready yet. Without you all in my life, I wouldn’t be here to tell this story. I love you so much.

    Little Yellow Leaf 

    Photo Copyright 2007 Nicki Young

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