Friday, November 22, 2013

Bitches Be Like: Hair Tied, Chillin' with No Makeup On...

...well I started my last blog post with shock that we were already several days into October and here we are almost to Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful this Thanksgiving. This month has been pretty nuts for me. I will take you back to the last week of October...I was doing my makeup in the morning and I looked down and my arm literally turned a purple color. I could see the blood slowly moving in it and it was the weirdest most random thing. I moved quickly to put my bra on and that movement of moving my arm up made my arm quickly go back to normal. I thought...what the...but I didn't do anything. Two days later my boyfriend saw me in the morning and saw my arm do it again and flipped. We went straight to the hospital. No makeup, out the door. It was kind of like this:

At Kaiser, I saw a doctor that just started at Kaiser named Ruth and she was so sweet...she saw me as a walk in but my arm wasn't doing the red/purple arm thing. They weren't sure off the bat what it was. I got a x-ray and a blood test which both came back perfectly normal so that ruled out a blood clot. The pain persisted though but I went about my daily life. Ruth called me on Friday and asked if I was still sore and I said I was but I wasn't super concerned. She said she would really feel more comfortable if I got an ultra sound in my arm. It was just too weird of a thing to just "happen" for no reason. She said she could get me in at 4pm. I came dressed in my Coors outfit for a 6 hour promotion that evening. They did the ultra sound. It was like a massage! I was enjoying it until she stopped...looked a little perplexed...and called in three other people who gathered around the screen and talked very quietly - whispered. Then they left, made some calls, and came back in and said I was positive for "DVT" which stands for "Deep Vein Thrombosis". I asked what that was and they said they found a blood clot.

When I sat up to get dressed, they didn't even want me walking down the HALLWAY because it was in such a sensitive place and they didn't want it to move and go to my lungs!! I was tearing up as it was all happening at once and I also had to be at a Coors promo in an hour, I was working a haunted house! The Coors people worked quickly to help me get it covered, I have my friends Kari and Angie to thank, and Brynja who worked alone so Kari could cover it.

I was at the hospital until 11:30 PM that night. I had a cat scan, blood tests galore, I don't even remember what all they did. I was put on medication that I had to give myself in the stomach with a giant needle every night. For the next week, I had to give blood every single morning. It was nuts - or so I thought!

Monday the 4th of November, a specialist called me from Kaiser while I was on the treadmill and asked me a series if questions...then he asked me to come in ASAP. I really didn't know what to think. I got off the treadmill and went right in, cleared my work calendar for the day. They had to do a "veinogram" where they put you under and shoot a balloon up your vein to see WTF is going on.

After the veinogram, they came in and showed me what they found. My first rib had grown and collapsed on a vein in my chest and that vein had branched off like a tree to try and get some blood flow to my arm. It had been constricted for YEARS and came to head with the clot that made my arm turn purple. It took two weeks to diagnose because it was such a rare thing. They had to go in ASAP and remove that rib from the vein and see if the vein could work again. If the vain was dead, they had to harvest a vein from somewhere else and implant it. The surgeon reworked his patients to get me in for surgery the next morning at 8AM.

So, I had one evening to prepare! I had over 12 Coors promos scheduled and the girls covered them for me in the next two weeks. I wasn't sure how long I would be out of work or life - they had me sign a power of attorney in case I died during the surgery. Coincidentally, I had just written my will three months ago so I was all good there! Weird to actually be relieved I had done it. (Sorry Darrel, no Porsche for Christmas, I made it through.)

The surgery lasted 6.5 hours. The vein was too far gone after they removed the rib so they took one from my groin and implanted it in my chest. Ouch is all I will say about that. 

I was in the hospital for several days - and boy it was a tough road. I couldn't walk for several days and when I could, it was a few steps at a time. Taking my first shower felt like working a 10 hour promo. The nurses were wonderful and my family and boyfriend came everyday. I felt very supported and was so thankful. I also had a super duper cute team of vascular guys who came to see me twice a day.

I also has so many good friends check in, send cards, tell me nice things. It really did help so much and I am so grateful for these people. I had many people surprise me and it was eye opening to see who actually cared. I didn't want attention so I kept Facebook very quiet but I had clients send cards and prayers and just people who I didn't even know liked me that much make an effort. Most of them had been through something like this so knew how helpless one can feel. Moving forward, I will be a different person from this whole experience when it comes to empathy for others.

When I came home, I basically existed and worked on recovery. I will spare all the gory details, it was a messy recovery. I am thrilled to be taking it slow and be back to work this week. Next month, I have to repeat the whole veinogram where they go in again and see how that vein is reacting. I sure hope it takes ok and heals like it should.

SO - this is a long winded post about what I am thankful for! Where so I even start? Modern medicine. Insurance. Savings. Amazing friends and family. All the Reeses cups and cereal I ate without abandon in the hospital. (Carbs don't count after surgery, right?) My amazing boyfriend who was there for every appointment and tear session and hobbled me to the bathroom three times a night. Mederma scar gel. My jobs who rallied to pick up the slack of me being gone two weeks. My best friend who was my personal doctor in my phone (she really is a doctor). I learned a lot through this humbling experience.

This week, I am taking everything in and as I resurface, the only person I am going to try and be better than is the one I was yesterday.


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