Mummy Confession: Sometimes I downplay how I feel when I should probably be seeking help
Disclosure: This post is not meant as medical advice and I urge you to speak with a health care professional should you have symptoms which worry you! HealthDirect Australia is a great resource if you’re concerned about your health.
(Long winded story ahead! Also, this story contains photos of cankles, legs, IVs (not the needle part *shiver*) and groggy photos. Nothing gory, but just in case you’re not a fan, you’ve been warned.)
-See my one-year update here-
I don’t like to make a big deal out of things, and I hate wasting people’s time. This time wasn’t any different.
It had been two weeks, give or take, since I started to have pain. I woke with some bad back pain and thought, “great, somethings out of place again. I hope this will resolve by the end of the day.” It didn’t. So I gave it a few more days.
It got worse. So bad, in fact, that I was nauseous and dizzy from the pain.
Ok, time to book the chiropractor. Something’s off with my hip again. It’s usually my other side that hurts, but this just won’t slip back into place and let me be.
We booked the chiropractor that day and I got an adjustment. Things were probably a little out of place and over the next couple days it did bring relief to my back.
But that’s when I started feeling pain somewhere else. Where my leg meets my torso, it was excruciating.
I thought it was just muscles being agitated because of the way I was limping for the time my back hurt and I would give it time and rest and it’d be good in a few days. I put heat packs on and off, and kept up with pain medication to dull the pain as I laid in bed because that was the only thing that seemed to take some of the pain away.
I couldn’t do much around the house. It hurt. I was walking with a limp to school drop off and pick up. Stupid muscles. I’m getting old and everything is easily pulled.
One day, two weeks after the back pain started, I walked really slow. It hurt a lot. The pain wasn’t going away or getting better. It got really painful. I felt nauseous and dizzy again. Paracetamol and ibuprofen weren’t even taking the edge off anymore.
It was night time and hubs wasn’t there and wouldn’t be home until late. I felt stupid, but I called family to drive me to the doctor’s. Maybe they’d give me some medication and send me home. I just can’t manage this pain anymore.
I’ll be honest with you here, and I did the wrong thing. I should have called the Healthdirect line for assistance, because I feel it would have expedited the discovery and treatment I received if they had heard my symptoms. I didn’t call because I felt like somehow the would send an ambulance, and I had no one to watch the kids right then. Please, never do what I did and seek the help you know you need right when you need it.
A trip to the only doctor still open (after driving to another who closed a good twenty minutes before their hours stated). I laughed and winced as I hobbled out of the car and into the office. I waited for my turn and was told almost immediately to go to the Emergency Room urgently.
Again, apologetically, asked my family to take me back home so we could figure out who could stay with the kids so hubs could take me. He had come home at this point, because of how I described my pain worsening.
We waited in the Emergency Room for what felt like forever before being triaged. Sitting. It was excruciating, but I couldn’t stand because that hurt more. I was utilising my breathing techniques from labour because the room was full of people. I’m not sure if it helped me deal with the pain or not though.
The nurse took some samples and blood five hours after we arrived. My ankle had started to swell up. It looked gigantic. Nurse said that it had nothing to do with my condition, and to try to move it around a bit. I wasn’t pregnant, so there went my only serious theory of emergency situations. Maybe it was just a muscle issue.
I’m fairly certain that was the consensus of the staff as well, because it seemed like everyone else in the waiting room was being seen as the hours crawled on by.
I even turned to my husband at one point and said, half-seriously, “I wonder if anyone has died waiting to be treated in the Emergency Room.”
We waited for around ten hours after arriving before finally seeing a doctor. They did an X-ray. Nothing there. Blood results showed elevated indicators of infection. Maybe that was it. In between, more sitting. More waiting. An ultrasound. I had a blood clot. I went back to sitting. There were no beds available.
Over 17 hours of sitting in a chair (granted, moved to a slightly more comfortable chair after 10 hours) and I was finally admitted and able to lie down in a bed.
We would soon discover that I would need to be transferred. They didn’t have the teams who could manage my care in case I needed surgery. They needed to know the extent of my condition and consult with doctors. Maybe I would take medication, possibly need surgery. Consultations, more blood draws.
As I waited for the doctors to figure out my course of treatments, they continuously seemed baffled at my predicament and my symptoms, which didn’t match up with all of the risk factors. Had I traveled recently? Been on any long trips? Was I pregnant? Did I smoke? Family history of blood clots? All negative. Where did the pain start? It was never in your calf or really even your leg? Strange.
It wasn’t until they did a CT scan they saw the extent of the clotting- up my entire left leg and into my stomach. And the starting point was a vein which was in their words, “squashed” which restricted blood flow to my leg. At this point, my leg had started to swell and change a little colour. After consultation with the doctors, I was placed on 24/7 IV of blood thinners and it stayed in until my surgery.
I found out that I have a condition called May-Thurner Syndrome in which veins and such are twisted together in such a way that over time, a vein can become compressed because of the positioning. This can cause pain, DVTs and usually requires intervention of stenting.
More blood tests, and more and finally an ambulance transfer to another hospital. My leg was in pretty severe pain now and swelling about 1.5 times it’s normal size. I could walk slowly, but it was so very painful, even with the medication. It was the weekend, and I was advised that I would speak with my team the following Tuesday. But, many teams of doctors kept popping in and giving me news, different news and conflicting news as the weekend passed.
I was a candidate for surgery. I wasn’t a candidate. Blood thinners for life. Blood thinners for a short period. I’d need a filter put near my heart. They may not even need a stent or remove the clots. Way too much information for someone who was feeling less than 50% well.
I missed the kids, and the kids missed me. We had some lovely people helping out with them, but I know they could feel the stress of the situation as hubs traveled to and from the hospital and stretched his time to spend with them, too.
I was woken up on Monday after eating breakfast with another round of blood tests (9 vials drawn) and a group of doctors all chatting about my condition and their plans for treatment. Later that afternoon, I was told I would be having surgery that day. I’d be awake. (Oh goodness no, please.) They don’t know how long it would be or exactly what they would do, but they planned to get rid of the clots and place a stent and possibly a filter near my heart if needed.
That changed about ten minutes before I went in for surgery again. I would be knocked out, I’d have a breathing tube in, I’d be on my stomach and they would be going in from behind my knee. It could be around five hours, but they didn’t know for sure. They put a mask over my face and I don’t remember even feeling sleepy.
I woke in excruciating pain. My back hurt so so bad. I gagged a bit, as my throat felt weird and goopy. I was drowsy and disoriented, and they worked for around an hour to get my pain medicine sorted. Most of what I remember from then is that the person by my bedside sorting out my levels and keeping an eye on me didn’t want their friends to leave without them and it was a back and forth of everyone pretty much leaving and this person just wanted to go.
I was finally rolled back to the ward where I wasn’t allowed to leave the bed (or be off of my back) until told otherwise. I’m glad I’d managed to skip a catheter, but I can’t say bedpans are a dignified and pleasant experience either. (Also, for someone inexperienced with such things, disoriented and under high levels of medication, it’s not too easy a skill.)
I found my phone in a takeaway container (aw how nice!) and let everyone know with a truly groggy photo that I was still alive.
Over the next few days, my back pain did become more bearable, though it hasn’t completely gone even now. My leg was less swollen after a couple days, and I was given trendy compression stockings to wear 24/7 (minus shower time). I would need to do anti-coagulation shots for a couple weeks (turned into 25 days, ick) and then that would turn to pills. I have appointments with various doctors to keep track of my recovery over the coming months.
Over the next six to twelve months, I need to keep up with blood thinners, fashionable compression wearing and trying to balance recovery and rest with doing more walking and moving each day. Sometimes I push my limits and I’m laid up in bed for a few hours. Other times, a thirty minute grocery trip is utterly exhausting and I need a nap.
It’s comparable to postpartum recovery in a way, because you can’t see what needs to heal, but you need to go easy and give your body time to recover. You try to take it easy, but find out that your “taking it easy” is too much for your body.
My body needs to get used to the blood flow, the clotting levels and potentially the stress on my vein from the clotting and swelling. I’ve been told that everything will need to be evaluated as time goes on, so I don’t have many answers now for what will be in the future. Recovery could take up to 12 months, but there could be long-term side effects from the DVT. Only time will tell.
And all I can do for now is breathe. And be thankful for the medical knowledge and technology available today, the friends and family who have helped me so much and for the amazing peace throughout the whole adventure.
See my update after three months here
See why “do you want any more kids” is now a complicated question to answer
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One of the most stressful things for me has to be when everything is out of my control, and I can’t do anything to improve the situation. ? Yup. Even as a “seasoned” parent, wife and human. Having support is so crucial during these times whether it be one person, or a group of people. And my goodness am I thankful for the many people who have prayed, messaged, and the ones who physically made it possible for hubs to be by my side a good chunk of my time spent in hospital (and tackled my monstrous laundry pile which was built up from a few weeks of feeling unwell).❤️ Life is full of things we didn’t imagine, like a trip to the ER, turning into a week or so in the hospital, (way too many scans and tests,) surgery and recovery…. And I certainly didn’t expect school holidays to be spent keeping up with pain medication and anti-coagulation shots while sporting the most fashionable of medical stockings ? But life, life as a mum, you do just need to learn to go with it, b r e a t h e and rest. And accept the help offered if you need it! One way I’m able to let go and not let the stress lead the way is by trusting that my time is held in the hands of the Creator who has my time in His hands, my life cradled in His arms and my future secure in His purpose. I’m so grateful for this time of rest, even within the circumstances, and this time which has forced me to slow down and take it all in. To stop stressing about “what if” and see the “what is”, the “what are” and the “what has.” . . . . . #deepveinthrombosis #maythurnersyndrome #fashion #notafashionblogger #compressionstockings #thankful #postop #dvt #bloodclots #selfcare #mumssupportingmums #mummyblogger #sydneyblogger #aussieblogger #newfashion #castallyourcaresonhim #grateful