Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Golden Ticket

I used to think that after the accident we had a golden ticket as a family.  We had our tragedy and nothing worse could possibly happen.  I learned that's not the case last Friday.

Last Tuesday K started complaining about pain in his rib, especially when taking deep breaths.  Being a typical guy, he blew it off thinking that L might have kicked him or head butted him in the night.  He hadn't done anything strenuous to cause any trauma, but thought that must be the case.  Each subsequent day he felt worse and worse.  We were up all night Thursday.  Every time he laid down to sleep he'd have to sit up because of the pain and inability to breath.  I thought he was having a heart attack, but he insisted he was fine and it was just the pain from his ribs.  By Friday morning he was feeling so bad I convinced him to go to the doctor.  He was back 1.5 hours later after a clean EKG with a diagnosis of bruised ribs or cartilage or a muscle strain.  They did take an x-ray but the results wouldn't be in till the late afternoon.

I went off to school to volunteer and he proceeded to hit Home Depot, buy a hedge trimmer and a bunch of 80 lb bags of soil which he deposited around the yard.  He insisted he was fine.  I came home around 4:40 with A so they both could head off to soccer practice.  The rest of us made dinner and settled in for a relaxed Friday night.  At about 6:45 I was in the front of our house in the street tossing pop flies to D when K and A pulled up and he sputtered, "call 911."  A was crying, K was gasping for air.

I rushed in to grab the phone screaming for E to get outside (she's certified in CPR as a lifeguard).  By the time I got through and gave our address, he managed to get out of the car and stand up.  In this position he could breath much easier and insisted he was feeling better.  At this point, I handed the phone over to E to talk to the dispatcher and tried to assess what was going on.  L was screaming.  D and A were cowering on the porch.  M was trying to help me with L.

The firetruck and paramedics finally arrived and started checking him out.  He continued to insist he was fine.  We argued in the middle of the street with me yelling he was going to the hospital.  They moved us into the ambulance and the paramedic calmly told K it was a good idea to go and get checked out. 

I had called K's mom right after I called 911, so she arrived to take care of the kids while I headed to the ER to get there ahead of the ambulance.

I waited for another 20 minutes till he finally got there.  It was awful.  They did another EKG and determined his heart was fine.  The doctor came in and decided that a cat scan was in order.  At this point, K was getting very agitated and insisting he just wanted to go home (he hates hospitals and is the exact opposite of a hypochondriac).  He refused to take any narcotics for the pain or anything to calm him down.

At 10:30 pm the doctor came in to tell us he had multiple pulmonary embolisms in his lungs and things quickly got very serious.  A nurse came in and administered a blood thinner (a shot in his abdomen).  We were admitted upstairs to the telemetry unit where he could be monitored 24/7 to make sure no other clots were thrown).  We were up all night with ultrasounds on his legs, drugs, etc. 

The doctor came in Saturday morning and gave us the news that he has a blood clot behind his left knee.  He has two clots in his right lung and one clot in his left lung.  There has already been lung damage on the right side which has cause pleurisy (fluid sac) around the lung causing the pain.  The seriousness of the situation sunk in.  A nurse commented how lucky he is that he's not dead.  With no other symptoms, situations like this usually end fatally.

It was a long and stressful weekend.  I had hard time leaving his side.  I was really scared. We spent many hours just sitting and holding each other.  It was horrible and continues to be shocking that this is really happening.

We were able to come home yesterday afternoon.  They taught me how to give the injections twice a day which is keeping him safe until the oral blood thinners do their job.  We go in this afternoon for a reading to check his levels and will get a better understanding of the next steps.  What we know so far is that we'll do the injections for another week and then he'll be on the blood thinners for 6 months in to break up the clots and hopefully prevent more from forming. He'll have some lifestyle changes as a result.  After that, he'll have tests done to determine why this happened since he doesn't have any of the classic precursors (not overweight, pregnant, recent surgery, or a big traveller).

The kids are fine.  Spooked a bit, but doing okay.  E definitely stepped up to the plate.  Of all the months for this to happen of course, when we all are reminded of the fragility of life.

So I guess my illusion of our family being spared is partially true.  K is still here.  He didn't die.  Maybe we have the golden ticket after all.  Or maybe life is just life.  Random.  Unfair.  I'm just thankful he's still with us and our kids didn't have to get another horrible life lesson. 


  1. Oh Peg, how scary! Please accept my sincere hope that K makes a complete and rapid recovery. Your family sure does deserve a golden ticket, I wish that were possible. Thinking of you all!

    (I have been there with spousal serious, serious illness and your words brought the initial shock rushing back. It is horrible when information trickles in and the plan can't be made quickly. Waiting is hard.)

  2. This is terrifying. For all of you.

    I'm struck by what you said about E. stepping up. I wonder if this might make her (and M. to some extent) feel really good to be able to help your family, be a source of strength for you and comfort the boys.

    Many, many prayers coming your way. We are here.

  3. Wow! That is some stressful weekend. Hoping he's on the mend very soon and you all can relax a little.

  4. I have been visiting your blog for some time now but I don't think I've ever commented. What a terrible weekend, but what a wonderful outcome. E is a hero! Just an assurance to you that blood clots and emboli can be overcome and life continue as a blessing, I went through them about 10 years ago. The meds and injections and frequent blood tests suck, but he will get through it, he sounds tough! My prayers for you all.....

  5. Praying for K and hoping he feels better soon. Thank goodness you guys were on top of this and were "lucky"- all our love you you, k and the kids.

  6. Oh, Peg... I have tears rolling down my cheecks. You just described my brother, 10 years ago (almost exactly 10 years ago). Only he had just broken a rib, so we all thought the terrible pain was because of that. We lost him, and still 10 years later, we keep rewinding those last moments in our heads, wishing we knew better, wishing we had rushed to the hospital sooner... I am so glad you all got a happier ending, this time...

  7. Oh how terrifying. I'm so sorry, but how lucky to have actually caught it if it's something that normally proves fatal. Wishing your husband a speedy recovery.

  8. I am a real-life friend of Thrift Store Mama, and I have been reading your compelling blog for a few months now.

    I am so very sorry this happened. I know it doesn't do you any good, but there are folks reading your blog, like me, who are rooting for you.

    One thing that struck me in this story, from a marital perspective, is that, well, you were right -- K did need to go to the hospital. You saved your husband's life, by insisting that he go. I am so glad you did not back down.

    Life is really something, isn't it. Here's to your family having some uneventful times very soon!

  9. Wow. Just, oh wow, Peg. I'm so very sorry you all are going through this. In spring 2009, Brien was diagnosed with a DVT and we thought that was that. A week later he threw a number of clots and wound up in the cardiac care unit at the hospital for a number of days with multiple PEs. We did the stomach injections and then the Coumadin clinic for months. Care with taken with food and drink and I KNOW where you are. Oh my word.

    I too thought we were given a pass after all we had been through, and somehow, we weren't. Not quite two years after losing Hannah I could have lost Brien. I'm dumbfounded it has happened in your family as well.

    I'm so glad you were able to be with K, and that the kids (E in particular) were able to step up and help out.

    I'm praying for you all. PEs are terrifying!


  10. Ayiyi. I'm so sorry that your family has been through this horrible scare, but am also relieved to hear that K seems to be stable for now.