It started as having to clean up the pile of fallen leaves my boys ran off and left. A storm was coming. I had no idea the storm that was really gathering. A twist of my knee resulted in a routine outpatient surgery to repair my newly torn meniscus. A day later, a year ago today, I gathered my crutches and made my way to the bathroom about 20 tottering steps away. On the second step an intense pain pulsated in my heart and a tremendous whooshing went through my lungs. I couldn't catch my breath. I crumpled back onto my bed and willed my racing heart to slow down, slow down, slow down. I consciously reminded my lungs to fill. They didn't seem to remember to do it on their own.
I didn't realize that I was in extreme trouble. I didn't understand that my body was screaming at me to get help. It wasn't until the emergency room physician explained to me that I was on my way to ICU. I had to wait for an ICU nurse to arrive. These were my thoughts:
"The clock on the Emergency Room wall glowed a pale iridescent pink 3:49 AM. The throbbing in my knee kept pace with the tock, tock, tock of its time. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. But I continued to see the faces of my children and the panic would grow, my breathing become more labored, my lungs constricting even more.
Sleep eluded me as I lie stiltedly on the gurney. Numbers kept crashing through my attempted solace, chasing any chance of sleep away. 3:50 AM tick tock, tick tock. 8876. The results of the d-dimer test for blood clotting which should be under 500 but was proof that I was at high risk that night for more complications. Seven. The age of the little girl who was dead on arrival in the ER two hours previous.
But one number kept leaping behind my eyelids and licking them like fire.
Fifteen. The number of blood clots that invaded my lungs and caused me to be in jeopardy this night. Fifteen. The number of years since I met and married my husband. Fifteen. The number of years I had been a mother. Fifteen. The number of children I was responsible to mother."
I am fully aware that I should not be alive. Tomorrow is the funeral of Marilyn Bulkley who lives in a neighboring rural town. Last Wednesday she went in for the very same knee procedure and on Thursday had two blood clots enter her lungs. She fell into a coma and her life support was turned off on Sunday. I had FIFTEEN clots. But I lived. WHY??
The past 365 days since my staring down of death have been physically challenging but spiritually a gift. I am determined to use each extra minute I have been given to better the world. When I need to rest I rest. If I need to I say NO. But if I can say yes, I SAY YES! I am certain there is more for me to do. Without this experience I would not have considered bringing home our two divine waiting daughters who have been looked over by families for their whole lives. My new eyes saw them. Not only my life but their lives too were saved. They are a gift for us. As you can see, they are making a heart in the picture below to tell us they love us back as they wait for our processing.