If you’ve been following my journey with GP, pregnancy, and beyond, you know that the last 12 weeks have not been easy ones. Lilianna’s birth was beautiful, but things went awry quite quickly afterward and have yet to settle down. First the bleeding and surgeries, then the blood pressure debacle, then postpartum anxiety, then a malfunctioning gastric neurostimulator, and as of this weekend… a blood clot in my leg (called a DVT).
While I try to handle these kinds of things with a level head, this latest diagnosis is particularly challenging for me. When I was in high school, I saw an episode of ER in which one of the doctors got a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung). She nearly dropped dead. For some reason that stuck with me and it seemed like the scariest thing ever. Then four years ago my grandfather died suddenly from a blood clot in his lung. That was it; I’ve been terrified of blood clots ever since.
Since blood clots in the deep veins of the leg are the leading cause of pulmonary embolism, I’ve been a bit obsessed with twinges and cramps in my legs. I knew that my risk was higher during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, but I really didn’t expect a positive diagnosis when I went to get checked out on Saturday morning.
After the ultrasound confirmed the existence of a blood clot in my calf, I felt oddly calm. I discussed my treatment options. I agreed to be treated outpatient with Lovenox shots and Coumadin. I emailed my hematologist. I got all of my ducks in a row and felt pretty good. They’d caught it, they were treating it, and I was going to be fine. (Well, quite honestly, I’d caught it; I contacted my doctor about the pain nearly two weeks ago and was told it was nothing to be worried about…be your own advocate, people. I can not stress this enough!)
But on Sunday night, I started Googling. Never really a good thing. That’s when the doubts and the “what ifs” started flooding my brain. What if there were more blood clots? Bigger ones. More dangerous ones. What if, even though I was being treated, the clot broke off and traveled to my lung? What if the shortness of breath and chest discomfort that I’d chalked up to GP and anxiety were actually from a clot already lodged in my lung? What if the blood thinners caused internal bleeding? What if I didn’t recognize the signs? What if I didn’t get to the hospital in time? What if I became one of the cautionary tales I was reading about online?
As one might expect, by this morning I was riddled with anxiety. But the Universe helped me out, as it usually does. When I logged onto Pinterest this morning, I saw this reminder to let it all go and just breathe…
So that’s what I did. I took a deep breath. I said a little prayer. I hugged Lily. I admitted, first to myself and then to my mom and now to you, that this has all been a bit much. A lot to handle. I cried.
I gave myself my Lovenox shot and then I took another breath. And another. And now that’s what I’m choosing to focus on: my breath. Each one, in and out, is a gift. Each one, in and out, means that I’m doing okay. Each one, in and out, moves me closer to easier days. Because I know that this too shall pass. And when I’m done with the blood thinners and the rest of this postpartum “mess,” when I’ve had my gastric neurstimulator fixed or replaced, I’ll still have what matters most. I’ll have my breath, my baby, my faith, and my family.
So if you’re having a hard day (or week, or month, or quite-some-time-now), give yourself permission to let it all go. Just for a moment. Let go of the worries and what ifs and just breathe.