My piggy-bank is empty right now, not even a penny left. March came in like a lion and left like a grizzly bear. There were no lambs in the last month and a half. Just more chasing insurance and doctors and then…well we’ll get to that part.
I’m skipping forward to the present because there has been so much that has happened and I wanted to write about it. If anyone told me that this could happen to one person, I would call them a liar. So here goes, and yes, it’s all true, nothing could be made up.
The end of February we were forced to have a full autonomic workup repeated because a little over two years ago when it was done there had been a 10-minute tilt test done vs a 30-minute tilt table test. So, no autonomic specialist would see me until the testing was done and they reviewed the results to see if there was enough ‘off whack’ (my terminology) to see me or not.
In preparation for three to four hours of testing, I received a packet with the usual, arrive 15 minutes early, bring your insurance card, a 10-page list of medications that had to be tapered off, and directions. Keep in mind that it is “orange cone” season here AKA road construction time, so the directions left a little to be desired. They should have read more like this: take a right after the 4th stoplight and then drive in a circle 10 times before finding a parking spot, and good luck getting back out.
My doctor and I figured out a titration schedule for attempting to get off as many of the medications as possible; however, all my blood pressure and heart medications were on the list, so it was a little beyond complicated. It started fine…for two days, and then we figured out that one of the medications couldn’t be tapered because my body couldn’t tolerate it. The rest of the reduction schedule went okay, aside from increased palpitations, blood pressure, nausea, and more flushing. A walk in the park…sign me up coach (never again)!
Four days before the testing was supposed to happen, I passed out in our backyard, sprained my ankle and ended up with a minor concussion. So, I went to the testing with an air cast on my ankle, couldn’t hardly walk, and then they expected me to stand while strapped to a table while every wire in the world was attached to my chest, blood pressure cuffs on arms and fingers. But I did it, I survived, I was exhausted and needed a wheelchair to get to the car.
A couple weeks later I saw cardiology (“Faint & Fall Clinic”). They decided to check labs for blood clots since I had been a little shorter of breath. The lab came back positive, so we did a chest CT to rule out pulmonary embolisms (blood clots).
Well as my luck would have it, I just happened to have blood clots in BOTH of my lungs. I’m so glad that I had a great friend with me that day, because I really needed the support. As a nurse, I knew exactly how serious of a finding that was and knew how lucky I was to be alive.
As I sat in the ER after I was rushed from the clinic and quickly whisked away to a room, I just kept sitting there feeling completely detached from the entire situation that has unfolded in a matter of minutes. I kept thinking that this was a dream. It felt like I did when I was working ER or ICU and was taking care of someone with a PE. It most definitely didn’t feel like I was the patient. I felt like I was looking from the outside in. Then suddenly all the fears that I had worked so hard to suppress came rushing to the surface. Tears were rolling down my face. I was the patient and I had to face this head on whether I wanted to or not. The scariest thing about the entire event is that we still have no idea where the clots came from and I basically didn’t have any symptoms until a day later.
Today is a little over a month since the diagnosis; I’m still having severe chest pain with each breath accompanied by the inability to catch my breath. The symptoms should be improving but if they are it’s unnoticeable.
Here I am, feeling physically and emotionally bankrupt. It is like waiting for the next hand to fall and I feel like I’ve lost the ability to cope. How are you supposed to adapt and learn new normal’s every 3-6 months? We’ve already been doing this for three years; how does someone keep doing this?
I figure if the damn piggy bank was at least partially full in February, then everything that was going on deserved to have a coin removed from the bank. Each time was an emotional blow and something else to live with. Well, I’ve broken the piggy bank open with a hammer, looking for even a single coin…nothing is left. These wounds must heal and the pieces hopefully will mend themselves. Maybe in a few months it will resemble something that can start building a small stock of coins again…but until then, bankrupt. Just bankrupt.