Saturday, May 7, 2011

so.....i almost died.....

so i figured i'd write an update on my health, because although not that many people read this blog, i still can hardly wrap my mind around what happened. more than that, what COULD have happened to me- and i get things out by writing, so here goes:

i went and had my colonoscopy and found i have colitis. was given some medication. that was supposed to be "the end" as it were, and so i started taking the medication, whatever....

a couple of days later, i wasn't feeling much better. and on top of everything, my feet and legs began to swell. like, hugely. black spots kept showing up in my vision, and i started being able to hear my heart racing constantly in my ears. i'd eat in the morning, and then i'd feel the food just stick in my upper stomach all day and not get hungry for literally hours. i started to get so tired that i'd walk down the hall at work and have to stop and lean against the wall to breathe. i'd been tired like that for months, but it got so bad those few days that i could barely stand up without needed to rest. when i went to bed at night, i could barely get up the next morning. needless to say, i was freaked out.

i called my GI from work and told his nurse that my feet were swelling, and she called me back five minutes later to schedule an ultrasound that day on my legs because they were worried i had blood clots. this freaked me out to no end, and i left work to have an ultrasound. i found that i didn't have blood clots, and my GI said he wanted to see me asap.

i went in to see him, he looked at my legs and sort of freaked out. "i've never seen this reaction to that medication before," he told me. "i'm worried you might be experiencing kidney failure. we need to order blood tests, stat. we'll find out what's going on." they sent me to the lab for about fifty blood tests, and then afterwards sent me home with the promise of a phone call with the results within an hour.

i went home, more distraught than i'd been probably the entire time i've been sick the last five months. my feet were so swollen they began to crack and i could hardly walk. i started bawling on the drive home, convinced i'd reached my limit. possible kidney failure? what else didn't they know was going on in my body?

the nurse called me a few minutes after i got home, saying they wanted to send me to the hospital lab for some tests this time. so my sister accompanied me back, and we did a bunch more tests. when they were through, i was informed i'd need a blood transfusion first thing in the morning. THREE UNITS OF BLOOD.

i stared at the woman. "do i need to be admitted tonight?" i asked. because seriously, i was almost scared to go home.
"first thing in the morning should be fine," she said, looking too doubtful to be comforting. so home i went.

the next morning bright and early, my family tried to wake me. i felt like i was being roused from a coma. i could hardly wake, and my face and neck were so swollen i looked like i'd gained fifty pounds over night. derek grabbed my laptop and we headed to the hospital.

we walked in to the IV Therapy section, and the two women at the desk craned their necks to look at me. "you're walking and conscious?" one asked incredulously. i laughed, but she was completely serious. "we've never had an outpatient walk in here with hemoglobin levels as low as yours," she said. "let's get you lying down."

i sort of didn't know how to respond, and let them usher me to a hospital bed. "you can order room service," the woman, evelyn, told me. "we need to go get the blood." she shook her head. "three units. i can't believe you're walking and functioning."

i wasn't really sure what to say. i'd had no idea that it was that bad.

so basically, i ended up spending the day in the hospital with my gram, who came to keep me company. the blood transfusion took about seven hours in all. evelyn came in and spoke to me A LOT and really informed me of how serious my situation was. she said a normal person's blood levels are 35, and mine were at 14. "you have less than half the blood in your body that you're supposed to," she told me. "your levels are life threatening right now." she seemed upset. upset that it had taken so long to get me in. she and the other nurse were both freaked out, saying that i looked like a dead person and they'd never seen someone actually like, conscious with such low levels.

i was pretty upset, too. in weird ways.
the more i spoke to evelyn, the more i realized that i had seriously been on the verge of multiple organ failure. i could have DIED. my body wasn't digesting food and i could hardly wake up because my body was SHUTTING DOWN. literally.

partly through the transfusion, i started to cry realizing that i had been so angry yesterday about my situation, and i actually should have been grateful. grateful i hadn't experienced kidney failure or had a heart attack. when evelyn explained to me what my body was doing being forced to run on so little blood, i started to pray. pray because the Lord had preserved me once again like he had when i was a baby with the chicken pox. i just kept thinking, "i'm so sorry i was angry, things could have been so much worse."

as the hours went by and more blood was given back to me, i began to actually get hungry. when i ate, the food didn't just sit. my skin began to get a bit of color. evelyn kept saying they were literally giving life back to me, and i had no idea just how literal it was until the transfusion was over.

i went home that day, and i could already walk a little more without having to stop and sit. my heart was no longer racing in my ears. evelyn told me i'd be more mentally clear, and i had no idea just how much difference there really was. it was as though i'd been sleepwalking through the last few months. suddenly, i was awake and aware again. i felt like a kid, excited about everything.

the last few days, recovery has been pretty good. i am back on the colitis meds because the swelling was (they think) from the lack of blood and NOT a reaction to the colitis meds. they have already helped me be able to eat again instead of throw everything up. i have had a lot less blood loss too. (sorry if it's TMI, i don't really care). i also am taking iron, a duretic to help with the edema and a steroid to help with the colitis. i can walk around and DO things without needing to rest after ten minutes.
i'm going in for another complete blood count at the hospital and another appointment with my GI on monday, so i'm hoping that everything looks pretty good. my legs are still swelling, but my GI said that will take time to go away. i'm just hoping for good news and hoping that my blood levels are where they're supposed to be monday. i may need another unit of blood, and frankly i kind of want one just to make up for everything i've lost! the three units brought me up to about 25, and i'd like to be a little closer to 35 so we'll see after i talk to my doctor.

overall, i cannot believe how blessed i've been. i know i'm waxing a little religious here but this is my blog after all lol and this whole thing has been a very spiritual experience for me. to know how close i was to dying, and that i wasn't aware of it until after the fact....i am baffled what a little perspective can do. i was so angry the day before my transfusion, convinced i couldn't take anymore. then, when i was really made aware of how serious my situation was and the fact that i was just shook me. i know the Lord loves me and is looking out for me, and every blessing i've been given promising i would be alright was REAL. i know now, no matter what happens in the next little while i will be okay in the end. i truly know that, even if i'm not done with the scary stuff. i have faith, and i have been so blessed to have this experience.

the last part of this whole thing was i had to quit my job. i had taken so much time off already and i knew my recovery would be too intensive to work. honestly, my boss had no idea just how serious my situation was and i still have yet to fully explain it to her. i'm going to hopefully this week though. i loved that job so much and i know i was meant to have it. i have missed my kids every day, but i know the right thing will happen and if i'm meant to work with those kids again, i will. until then, i'm praying because i seriously, seriously miss them. having to quit was the hardest thing, but i knew my recovery was too iffy to be able to promise a work schedule at this point.

so, that is all that has happened. it's so crazy to me to think that it's all really happened. i feel like such a different person after these last five months it's not even funny. i feel like who i'm meant to be, and i honestly believe i could not have become this person without these trials, no matter how painful or scary or hard they've been. i've been so blessed, and i appreciate any thoughts and prayers that have been sent my way. i've needed them, and you have no idea how much they've truly helped.



Sara McArthur said...

OMG this is so crazy, I can't believe that this all happened to you, and so quickly! I honestly am a little peeved reading this because its a wonder no one was taking it more seriously before your transfusion. I am so glad to hear that your lifeblood is being restored and that you now know that what you were going through was so serious! I hope they find out everything that is going on and that you continue to make a quick recovery and can get back to good health in no time. I am sure things with your job will work out and that they will let you come back, even if it isn't until next fall, its great finding something that you love and are passionate about, maybe you have found your calling, you would be a great teacher :) thinking of you, keep your blog updated! I read it still out here in NC!

hannabaorange said...

OK first of all, it's my turn to be honest. Your blog made me cry. Our stories are so similar it's almost not funny. Except I didn't have edema. And I was too stubborn for blood transfusions, I wouldn't let them. Second thing, I'm glad they got to you in time. I know 100% what you mean about the low haemoglobin, that's what happened to me. Yours was worse, but I still had nurses and doctors amazed that I was upright, coherent and functional. I have been SO worried about you. Steroids are uh-may-zing. Apart from kooky side-effects (here's hoping you don't get them after all you've already been through - I just had insomnia and hallucinations), they make you feel so much better. I can't believe I struggled for so long on normal meds, when it would have been 2.5years faster just to go straight on steroids. Here's hoping for a fast recovery for you, getting back on track asap. You know you can text me any time, and I want to Skype with you asap. Seriously check out - it's so good. I wish I was actually there for you, but you know I'm there in spirit. xoxoxox