I had pretty much convinced myself that I had this “stepmom life” down and that nothing could rattle my cage. Silly girl. I should know better than to get to comfortable in “who I am” or “what I know.” Yes, life threw me a big curveball.
Last Wednesday was a typical summer day. Swim practice in the morning, chaotic lunchtime at home and then, since I only had three of our six kids in my care, I decided to run a few errands. We stopped at a new cupcake shop and then hit the Family Christian Bookstore and Kohls looking for some gifts for a friend of mine going through a tough time.
The shopping trip was successful and we made it back in time to watching Giada at Home on the Food Network. After the show was over I went to stand up from the couch where I was cuddled with my youngest and that’s when it happened. As I went to stand, a sharp pain like no other shot through my right shoulder and breast and I couldn’t breath. I tried to yell out for help but no voice could be heard. My lil one raised up off the couch “mommy, you ok? mommy, you ok?” she shouted. As she leaned into me I caught a breath. “Please get mommy some water,” I whispered.
My head was swirling. I thought back to all the information I’d heard from the American Heart Association. I thought I was having a heart attack and I was angry. I’ve got dinner to make and kids to get places tonight. While I’m young and live a pretty healthy lifestyle there was something inside of me that said “this is no joke. Something is very, very wrong and you need help.” As I reached for the aspirin, remembering the American Heart Association again, my oldest daughter said “mom, don’t be stupid. Call Miss Jen.” I called my friend who was a nurse and she told me to go right to the ER.
My husband called me while I was on the line with Jen and I shared with him what was going on. He came right home and within minutes was rushing me out to the hospital. The man I used to tease for driving like Mario had now become my hero weaving through rush hour traffic to get me in.
Moments later I’m in a wheelchair and getting hooked up to an EKG. Normal. Took some blood and the news came after that. The Dr. informed me that I tested positive for a blood clot but he told me there was no need to panic. At my age and health, he assumed it would be another false positive. They set me up for a special cat scan. As my body jetted in and out of the circle, I closed my eyes and recited over and over my life verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. I was scared but I felt peace.
Then the news came. As the Dr. pulled back the curtain on my ER room, his face said it all. “The cat scan showed you do have a small blood clot in your right lung. It’s called a pulmonary embolism. You were smart to come in when you did. We will start you on blood thinners,” he told me. He then followed it up with compassionate words of not worrying but by then it was a blur. I just remember my husband holding my hand and me praying for strength and healing.
All I could think of was a few hours ago I was laughing with my kids and now I have this thing inside of me that could have killed me. I just wanted to go back home and keep being a wife and mom. I just wanted to be with my kids. All my kids…. my biological kids and my stepkids. I wanted my family. Didn’t the PE know that I was the caregiver and I was supposed to be taking care of others not being taken care of.
Sparing the details, I now sit at home a week later still adjusting to this new life. Adjusting to the here and now.
I feel God’s peace through this readjustment period but I’m also scared. Each time I have to do something new with this PE inside of me, I cry.
As with any struggle, there is good. Facing this has truly made me think about what’s important: Faith, Family, Friends. And not just think about it but live it. My gratitude for life has grown and I’m committed to remaining positive on this journey. Life really is about re-adjusting to the here and now. As a stepmom, I know this “readjustment” well. Now applying it to my health is a new venture on the journey of life. Believing that God has a plan for me and staying strong as I live it.
I share my story because I want other women to be proactive about their health. We all have so much to live for and it’s so important to pay attention to our bodies.
I have no control over this tiny thing in me that has taken my breath away. That is the hardest part. So I will control the parts I can. Take my medicine. Live healthy. Pray and be good to me and my family.
This is another curve on the winding road called life. I’ll readjust, cling to God’s word, love my friends and family with abandon and keep moving forward.
Please pray for me and my family. Pray my body dissolves the pulmonary embolism and that my body doesn’t make any more. And please make sure to leave any prayer requests you have. I’m grateful for all the prayers and love and I want to pray for you too.
And please my stepmom sisters…. listen to your body. If you don’t feel right, please go in and get checked out. The Docs still say I’m “way to young to have a PE,” but obviously my body didn’t get the memo.