Monday, October 21, 2013

Life Lately

I wrote a little over a month ago - at the 19.5 week mark on this grief journey.  We are now at just over 24 weeks and I have to say that the issue of "time" has intensified for me since last time I wrote.  The marking of time has been so significant.  Each Saturday morning at 6:12 am I wake up and I remember that moment Peyton passed away.  I don't necessarily dwell on it for a long time, but there's something about that moment of the day that I cannot allow myself to pass through without remembering her.

I shared news last month about a serious ankle sprain {grade 3 with torn ligaments} which had sidelined me.  With this injury came a flood of emotions, causing me to have very emotionally painful recollections of taking care of Peyton when she was in so much pain from bones that were fracturing for no good reason.  My limitations caused me to recollect how severely limited Peyton was - and had been for the whole of her life.  While my own struggles with this injury are temporary {I hope!}, her issues were not - and it was painful to think of what it must have been like to be her.

So here we are about five weeks further down the road than we were the last time I wrote.  I wish I could say that I'm well on the way to recovery with my ankle because I've been going to physical therapy three times a week for the past five weeks or more - but that would be a lie.  I wish I could say that I am in a better place emotionally today than I was last time I wrote - but that isn't really the case either.


There are times in life {it seems} where you just get pounded with one thing after another, after another, after another...and another.  This is one of those times.

If we are acquainted, perhaps you know where this is going.  If we haven't connected lately or you don't know me that well, here's what's been happening since I last wrote...

My ankle injury was September 8th.  I rolled over on my right ankle after getting up off the couch and taking a few steps.  As I shared, it was a grade 3 sprain {on a scale of 1 to 3, 3 being the worst} with torn ligaments.  I was laid up for a while with that, but after seeing an Orthopaedic Surgeon, I was put in a boot which I used consistently until the last few days.  I have a splint that I've been wearing all along, but am only now beginning to wear it round the clock and am able to walk around without crutches and with tennis shoes on - as long as the splint is on too.  I did start physical therapy three times a week.  I went a few times.  I was making some progress.  The bruising was finally starting to die down.  The swelling, too, was going down somewhat.  It's still swollen to some degree, but nothing like it once was.

Then September 30th happened.

I didn't feel "right".  I'd been pushing myself to move around and do things for a couple weeks or so, but was still pretty limited in what I could do as the pain I was in was pretty significant still.  I had aches and pains that weekend.  When I went to bed on September 29th {Saturday}, I was sore and couldn't get comfortable.  I was starting to become concerned that the pains I was having weren't just aches and pains from being laid up in bed for a few weeks.  Ron knows me well and he knows that when I start getting weird pains in my back, my mind sometimes gets farther ahead of me than it needs to and I start getting a little paranoid.  Past medical history dictates that these pains, when legitimate, are not good.  So, of course, his concern for me was heightened that night.

I did go to bed and I did fall asleep eventually, only to be awoken around 2:30 am Sunday.  I was very sore.  I couldn't get comfortable.  And I felt short of breath.  Of course, I thought it could be the paranoia of the source of these pains, so let's just take a moment to calm down, relax, take a deep breath.... and that's when the sharp pains hit.  In my efforts to calm myself, I did fall back to sleep somehow for about an hour.  At 3:30 am I was awake and trying to figure out how to get up out of bed {at this point, I'm still sleeping on the pull out couch I've been sleeping on in Peyton's room because it's on the first floor - more on that subject another time, but suffice it to say it has been extremely convenient with this ankle injury}.  It wasn't just the getting out of bed that was the issue - in my mind it was getting up, getting the splint off my foot, and the boot on, and getting to the bathroom...without dying.  Literally.  That's what was in my head.  I couldn't walk without the boot, but I needed to get in there.  I didn't know how I would stand up without passing out - that's how poorly I felt.  The pain was worse.  At this point, I could not take deep breaths.  Shallow breathing, sharp pains.  I knew where this was headed.

20 steps from bed to bathroom.  It seemed insurmountable but I did it.  Without the boot.  I grabbed on to everything I could along the way, last of all the bathroom counter.  I made sure to bring my cell phone with me to the bathroom because I had a feeling I'd need it.  I texted Ron, who was asleep upstairs, at around 4:00 am - only after I'd somehow managed to pull on clean underwear, yoga pants and a t shirt, brush my teeth, and run a brush through my hair.  Yes, somehow as I'm staring at this dusky looking, sickly looking, barely able to breath image in the bathroom mirror, I'm thinking that if I'm needing an ambulance, I surely need to freshen up.  Right?!?!  Because when you can hardly breathe and are at a point when you're texting your husband to call 911 for you, you've got to look your "best".

Fast forward through delivery of Moira sometime before 4:30 am to the next door neighbor and the arrival of the same two EMS guys who brought me to the ER just a few weeks before with the ankle injury...I was brought, once again, to the ER of the same hospital.  Upon arrival, there were some nurses who recognized me.  You've got to be kidding me!!  I was thinking, so this is what it must have felt like to be Peyton - to arrive at the ER and have people recognize you as soon as you pass through the door!  I wasn't digging the familiarity at this moment.

I was seen immediately and had blood drawn.  Labwork confirmed what I already knew in my head to be the diagnosis.  Pulmonary embolism.  Don't know what a PE is??  Good!!  I hope you never do!  As for me, this is my third time down this road.  Third.  Once the d dimer test results were back, I was off to the CT scan pretty quickly to confirm a massive bilateral pulmonary embolism - blood clots in my lungs.  Yes.  Both lungs.  Again.

To say that I am grateful to still be walking {or hobbling} on this Earth right now is a mild understatement.

I spent 3 days in an ICU step down unit where I heard multiple times how fortunate I was to have survived this life-threatening event.  This is not the first time I've laid in a hospital bed being given news of a potentially life-threatening condition.  Five times now, by my count, have I received news of my health being in jeopardy.  Three of those times it has been a massive pulmonary embolism - two of those events were post partum.  This one...after an ankle injury???  While my injury isn't mild, it certainly isn't the worst possible injury.  At this point in time, I have not had any surgery on it.  I am awaiting MRI results but so far as I know, there is no fracture.  The Orthopaedic Surgeon said he has never seen a case with a similar injury result in a PE.  Ever.  Lucky me.  He said, "I'll even give you a fracture...I've still never seen a PE from this type of injury."  Great.

I am now a few weeks past the pulmonary embolism diagnosis.  I've not been to physical therapy for a few weeks now.  I am seeing my primary doctor this week and hope to get his blessing to return.  If I thought I was slowed down as a result of the ankle injury, that was nothing compared to how much the PE has slowed me down.  My body flat out revolts when I've overdone it.  I'm past the major shortness of breath stage, but if I do too much, I feel very much out of breath and completely exhausted.  I followed up with my Hematologist today.  So far, the test results that have come back show no clotting disorder as a cause for what happened.  Just as the Ortho was mystified by the PE happening as a result of this injury, so too is the Hematologist.

So we come to this past weekend.  I've been going stir crazy.  I haven't been out of the house except for a few times since September 8th.  As I process through the grief over losing Peyton in addition to essentially living in her room, my mind has been racing with thoughts of what we are supposed to do with this space.  Her room.  What could we do with it?  At the same time, the thought of taking her crib down was just not a place I wanted to visit.  Her crib was still set up - sheets and all - the exact same way we left it the morning of March 30th when we took her to the ER which resulted in her final hospital stay and eventual passing.  I couldn't go there.  I've put away little things and gotten rid of some things.  But her crib - that's just entirely different.  To me, it's a very obvious physical presence in her room and to get rid of it, to me, is acknowledging that she doesn't exist anymore in a very real, tangible way.  It marks the end of this being her room.

I was really struggling this weekend.  I have been in pain.  I have been sick.  I am sick of being sick. I'm sick of being tired.  I'm sick of hurting physically and emotionally.  On Sunday morning, I woke up before 5:00 am.  My mind was instantly racing, again, with thoughts on what we need to do next.  By the time Ron and Moira were up and getting ready for church, I felt that Sunday would be the day for me to work on the crib.  I didn't know if I could do it.  I put out a request on facebook asking for prayers to help get me through this task.  While Ron and Moira were at church, I did it.  I placed her toys in the closet.  I folded the sheet and blanket that were on her bed and tucked them away.  Her urn, which had been placed in the crib along with her pink hippo back in May, was moved to another location {so was pink hippo}.

It was the hardest day since Peyton passed away.

I can think of a million things I would rather do with my time than to pack away the belongings of my deceased six year old daughter.

The crib has been disassembled.  Other items were gone through.  Some furniture has been moved into the room in the crib's place.  We will work on making our environment functional and hopefully considerably more organized than it has been lately.

The hardest task is done.  I no longer have to fear it or dread it because it is behind me now.  The crib wasn't "her".  This, I know.  It's another milestone on the journey of grief.

I am so grateful to the friends and family who prayed for me through Sunday.  Without your prayers and support, I couldn't have done this.  It needed to be done.  I am so grateful to God for the strength to get through this.  I literally could not do this on my own.  I don't know how anyone could.  A parent simply should never have to go through this.  Ever.  But with God as my strength {our family's strength}, somehow we are making it through this.

One day at a time.

Peyton's 2nd Halloween - 10/31/2007

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