Wow, this has been an eventful February. :) I think at this point I can even allow myself to admit that it has been stormy and dark and difficult. Treacherous. Scary.
So you know, I was released from the hospital after the Deep Vein Thrombosis episode on Saturday evening. Sunday through Tuesday I really was able to rest a lot, thank the Lord, but I kept noticing that I just couldn't take deep breaths. There was this kind of heaviness on my chest that wouldn't allow me to fully take in the air I felt like I needed. I knew they had warned me about shortness of breath, but I wasn't sure if this was truly shortness of breath or just the stuff that goes along with inactivity and third trimester pregnancy as the baby is getting larger and pressing more on my lungs. It was heavy on my mind all day Tuesday and I was getting concerned about still not being able to take a good deep breath. I also heard myself wheezing a lot. And I still had a low grade fever. I felt extremely weak.
Tuesday night my in-laws left to go home, and we put the kids in bed. As we were crawling into our own bed, I told Brian about it. I honestly thought he would just pat me on the arm and say, "It's probably nothing; make sure you talk to Dr. Kakani about it when you see her Thursday." Nope. I have a good man. :) He bolted up and picked up his phone. He asked his parents to come back to the house because we needed to go to the hospital.
When we talked to the front desk nurses at the ER, they put me on high priority and got me right in to see the doctor. After I explained to him what was going on and he listened to my chest, he gave the diagnosis of Pulmonary Embolism and decided to admit me again. He explained that the only way to know for sure what was going on was to do a cat scan, which they didn't recommend doing during pregnancy. They would not be able to tell for sure about the embolism, but would be able to tell if it was putting my heart or mine or Bethany's oxygen levels in danger by doing a series of tests over the next 24 hours. If it was extreme, he explained that they might take the baby early to treat me more aggressively. If it proved to not be an extreme case, they would just continue the blood thinners until the baby was born. I immediately prayed for the latter. I really wanted Bethany to be a big, healthy, full-term baby if at all possible. They put me on oxygen and I felt an immediate relief. Finally I could really breathe fully! I felt like a new woman!
We didn't get settled into a room until 3 a.m. By that point they had administered more blood thinners, taken more blood TWICE, and of course thrust another IV into my veins. You have to know how much I hate IVs. They literally give me the creeps. I felt like I had walked right back into the deepest, darkest nightmare of storms. Needless to say I didn't really sleep. I had EKG monitors on my chest and oxygen monitors on my fingers and baby monitors on my belly and this stupid IV right in the bend of my arm. Honestly I kept asking the Lord, "WHAT IN THE WORLD??? WHY???? THIS STINKS!!" I had a couple of meltdowns. Amazingly, God sent me a wonderful man with strong arms and a loving heart who weathered those meltdowns with me brilliantly. And God brought Words to my mind just when I needed them most. One that He put in my head as they were changing IVs again and narrowly missing my bone :(, was, "Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith". . . (Hebrews 12:2).
The next 24 hours they just monitored mine and Bethany's oxygen levels and did an echocardiogram, which is like an ultrasound of my heart. (Side note: Now that test was really cool. I actually SAW my heart beating inside my chest! It was amazing. I really never think about my heart beating, since it happens involuntarily. But that thing was in there working so hard and so fast. It was bursting with life! Truly one of the most life-altering things I've witnessed. To watch this organ in there keeping me alive, keeping the blood running through my entire body, keeping me breathing from one moment to the next. I thought, it really does matter, this heart-healthy eating and exercise and taking care of my body. My heart is depending on me to treat it right so it can keep me going! And it matters that I take care of my children's and husband's hearts. Those sweet little hearts need healthy foods and TLC! I thought of the Scripture in Acts that says that IN HIM we live and move and have our being. He could stop any of our hearts at any moment and it would all be over. HE keeps our hearts beating from breath to breath.)
The results of the echocardiogram was that my heart looked good and was not under any extreme stress from the embolism. Also after watching mine and Bethany's oxygen levels, my blood was still oxygenating well and Bethany wasn't showing any signs of distress. The hematologist looked over the results and came to talk to us Thursday night. He explained that when the clot dislodged and a piece of it went into my lungs, a signal was sent to my brain that the lungs were under stress and I needed to struggle a bit to breathe. Once the signal goes off in my brain, it is difficult to turn off even if the stress is low and my body is handling it okay. Once more oxygen was given, the signal said, "Okay, we're getting enough oxygen now" and I could breathe better. My body handled it all really well and as long as I don't struggle any worse with it, more aggressive treatment can wait until after Bethany is born. Right now the blood thinners can continue doing their work and hopefully my body will take care of it all on its own. Since I can do the blood thinners from home and that's all they want to do at this point medically anyway, they sent me home to rest and let the clot continue to heal. I will continue to be seen by Dr. Kakani and Dr. Waples, the hematologist, for the next six months, at which point hopefully all will be well and this storm will be over. Whew.
God in His wonderful providence :), had me reading about a storm in my daily Bible reading this morning. I had read the story hundreds of times, but today it really spoke differently to me. In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus said to His disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got in their boat and began to cross. A violent storm came, and they thought they were going to die. Jesus was asleep. They woke up and told him to do something or they would surely die!! Jesus stood up and commanded the storm, "Peace! Be Still!" and immediately the storm was stilled. They continued their journey and made it safely to the other side. One thing I had never thought about until today was that Jesus could have just snapped His fingers and zapped them over to the other side of the lake in an instant. Instead He told them to get into the boat, already knowing that the storm was coming. If I had been a disciple, I would have been like, Why didn't You just zap us to the other side instead of scaring us with this storm??? Obviously Jesus had something to teach them through it. He wanted them to trust Him more. Even a strong storm couldn't sidetrack His plan to get them to the other side of the lake. It wasn't like He woke up and was surprised and did what He could to stop it. He knew it was coming and took them through it for a purpose.
So it is with me. This storm has a purpose. And even as it is raging, He continues to say to me, "Peace! Be still!"