{Hearts on 22} Celebrating My 4th Borrowed Year

{Photo by Stephanie Ryan Photography}

{Photo by Stephanie Ryan Photography}

There are moments were I feel like the little girl from Schindler’s list. You know the little girl in the one scene of the movie where everything is in black and white except for her red coat. Over the past four years I have heard more stories of pulmonary embolism loss than survival. I realize that only 1 out of 5 patients will survive a pulmonary embolism, yet it still moves me. Long ago I stopped asking God why he spared me and called another home in my place. At some point you stop wondering and start living. Living my life is the only way I know how to honor the four people who died so I could be the one who walked away. I vowed to make every year, month, week, day, hour, minute, and second of my life count, as I know I am living on borrowed time.

I have crisscrossed this country, speaking in church basements, town halls, elementary school classrooms, and college campuses educating women on the side effects of birth control. Educating women on heart health, blood clots, and mostly empowering them to be their own health care advocate. They listen wide-eyed as I tell my tale and go over the symptoms/warning signs. Only to find tears in their eyes as they realize that I almost died five days before my 27th birthday.

That out of anything I say is what sticks with people, the fact that I almost died five days before my 27th birthday. I can still see my Mam’s face as she walked into my room, her fear was so thick you could have cut it with a knife, her eyes filled with tears as she whispered “It should be my laying in that bed, you are to damn young for this.” She took my hand, rubbed my head, and promised me that we were going to beat this. She allowed me to cry for one minute and then I had to put my big girl pants on and fight. I had IVs coming from all directions, wires and leads tapped to every limb, in that moment my future looked bleak, yet I knew that this would pass, and that I would bounce back.

I’ve wasted enough precious time thinking about what I can’t have or do. Its taken a while but I have come t terms with the notion that I will never carry a child of my own, that I will not run a marathon, or climb a mountain. Instead I now focus on what I can do, I can adopt a child, walk a 5K really fast with my sister, and I will settle for the top of a hill any day. Most of all I can use my story to help educate my girlfriends and strangers about the deadly side effects of birth control. I can share my story with my Legislators, Congressmen, and Representatives, to strengthen the fact that we need more research on Heart Disease and Stroke in women.

My pulmonary embolism was the ER staffs main concern and my slight stroke was just a bonus. They both wreaked havoc on my body, yet I am still standing. When I look in the mirror I no longer see flaws, instead I see a body that’s been through hell and back. I see a body that survived a pulmonary embolism with infarction and a stroke, I have no doubt that it will carry me through a lot more. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never have my pre-PE/Stroke body back. I am just happy to be standing.

I am haunted by a comment my Mama made, she said “if my daughter didn’t get to the hospital when she did, I would have been picking out her urn instead of her 27th Halloween themed birthday cake.” That comment humbles me and reminds me how close I cam to death that day. My heart goes out to the families who have had to bury a loved one who died unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism. That’s the thing, they are silent, and one never knows that they have a blood clot in their lungs until its to late. Most don’t even know why their child suddenly dropped dead, that is until the autopsy results confirm that they died of a blood clot in their lungs. I think about the women who never got to hold their niece, about the fathers who never got to walk their daughters down the isle, and about the women who were called home all to soon.

I live each day of my life for all of the women who died and for all of my survivor sisters still fighting the good fight. I will stand with my survivor sisters as we continue our wrongful injury/product liability suit against the makers of the Nuva Ring. One day justice will prevail, the souls of the lost will rest, and the broken will heal.

THANK YOU: A day doesn’t go by where I do not think about my care team at Woodwinds Health campus. Because of the ER staffs quick thinking and action I am alive today. I am alive because the doctor stopped what he was doing to ask me “by chance do you use birth control?” Extra test were ordered, a CT scan was given, and with in 30 minutes the clot was found. It was found because of that one little question and I am forever in debt to him. My stroke was stopped in its tracks because of the thrombolytics I received and for that I am forever grateful. I wouldn’t be alive today if it were not for the Doctors and nurses of Woodwinds, for they put this broken girl back together again and sent her back out into the world.

Because No Woman Deserves to Fight ALONE!

To Learn more about Pulmonary embolism and blood clots please visit the following:
Resources from the Mayo Clinic:
The National Blood Clot Alliance – Stop The Clot: http://www.stoptheclot.org/

To Learn more about Stroke and Heart Disease please visit the following:
Resources from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stroke/DS00150
The American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/
The American Stroke Association: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/
Power To End Stroke: http://powertoendstroke.org/
Go Red for Women: https://www.goredforwomen.org/
Please Join me in making a difference by joining “You’re The Cure”: http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/default.aspx

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