tl;dr: I got really sick. I’m better and I’m knitting again.
I almost died this year. That’s weird to say, and weird to feel, but there you go. My doctor assures me this is a true statement. I said to her several times, “You mean, I could have died, right? Like almost being hit by a car?” But she insists she means what she said. More than being in danger of dying, I actually almost died.
I had severe anemia, severe enough, apparently, that it could have done me in. I did feel really, really awful, and I did get this sense of impending doom sometimes, so maybe that is when I was in the most danger.
But then I got blood transfusions and gray iron sludge stuff and got to eat a lot of steak and felt better than I had in a long time.
To correct this problem permanently, I had surgery. I had to do a lot of work at my job to prepare for it, get a couple people trained on parts of my job that had to happen (like payroll!), and such. Had to get ready at home, too, and also prepared mentally and emotionally as well as I could.
I had surgery, and other than a medication that gave me hallucinations – that was interesting – it all went well, and I went home satisfied. I thought the story was pretty much over, and I was happy.
ONE HOUR after my son brought me home from the hospital so I could recover from major surgery, we discovered that our water heater had exploded. I am not making this up. Water inches deep in our little laundry room. Insurance urged us to hire a water damage mitigation team. So instead of quiet hours recovering, I spent several days with a crew of guys tromping in and out of the house, literally tearing up the floor and the walls and throwing away – I don’t even know what they threw away. Lots of stuff. Giant fans were blowing all day and all night, to try to dry out the house’s exposed guts. It stunk horribly and was crazy-making for me. Oh, plus, no hot water.
I didn’t know if it was the stress of that week, or some bad air blown up from under the house (could happen, maybe?), or just one of those things that happens occasionally after surgery, but I got sick. Pneumonia, my doctor said at first, not too big a deal, go home, take this antibiotic, take deep breaths, do all the things and you’ll be good. But I did not get better. For a week I was sick and weak. After spending about the most miserable day I’ve ever spent, unable to breathe, unable to sit up or stand up and really unable to lie down, unable to rest or eat, I went to the hospital when my husband got home from work and had a CT scan (which was torture; I could not lie down) and was told I had multiple blood clots in my lungs. Pulmonary emboli. That was a time I could have died, and it passed before I understood what had happened. Apparently, blood clots have to go through your heart to get to your lungs. If one of them had caught there, that would have been the end of me, between one heartbeat and the next.
After the CT scan, some blessed person gave me morphine and so I didn’t even care that I got rolled upstairs and put in a bed. Third time admitted to the hospital in as many months. I did not improve. More tests, poking and prodding, and it turned out I actually did have pneumonia as well, and part of my left lung had died or something. Sorry I can’t be too specific, the whole experience is kind of hazy to me now, and I’m not any kind of doctor.
I was so sick. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, ended up being given four different antibiotics, and the last one was so toxic it was blowing out the vein the IV was in every few hours and I’d have to have it moved. Super fun.
The antibiotics did not seem to be effective. I was not getting better. Hour by hour, I got worse – high fever, no appetite, distress. There came a point where I realized that this infection in my lungs just might end my life. It was a dark moment, and then in my exhaustion and fear I remembered God and his great love, and I prayed with my husband and gave my future to Him, with faith. Right away I felt ready to face whatever would come. It would be ok.
And then in the morning, one of my doctors (I had, like, five doctors) wanted to try something.
THIS GETS ICKY – SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU’RE SQUEAMISH. I WON’T JUDGE.
I was taken down to a little room where a doctor poked a hole in my back and drained out an entire quart of fluid from my left lung, or from the lining of my lung? I’m not sure. All I know is it felt terrible. The tech said I could picture my lung as a big bath sponge just taken out of the water, all soggy and weighed down, and that’s why it hurt. The fluid had been bad for it, but was also buoying it up in a way.
I have a picture of the bottle full of stuff that was taken out. It kind of looks like beer.
OK IT’S SAFE NOW.
But after that, I got better and within 48 hours I was sent home. I had two more weeks of pneumonia to get through, but I could be sick at home. I’d spent ten long days in the hospital, though I’d say the nights were worse.
I was so exhausted. I’d lost twenty pounds. I could hardly lift an arm. And let us not forget, I was still recovering from surgery. Sadly, I had to push myself to get back to work within a couple of weeks, or go without pay. We have no short term disability leave where I work. So I started working from home way before I felt I was ready, and then going in to work also way before I felt ready and all my energy went to my job. I wasn’t a baby about it at all. Wink.
Gradually I improved. I kept working on making my lungs stretchy again. I still have to struggle to take a really satisfying deep breath, it hurts, but it’s so much better.
And I thought about knitting a lot, but just didn’t feel ready for the mental effort.
Today I am pretty normal. I’ve gained my weight back. I walk a lot. I’m my old chipper self. I don’t worry about getting exhausted doing normal daily things. Sometimes I forget what I’ve been through, and I’ll get a sudden sharp reminder from a random memory, and it surprises me. It will be a year or two to fully recover from the blood clots. I might have a dead spot in my lung for the rest of my long, long life. But I’ve been scanned and sonared and xrayed and everything is looking pretty good. I’ll be fine.
I’ve been kind of afraid to start knitting because I did not want to start and then have to put it down again. It’s my sign that I am really OK and I still worry about over committing. But I’ve missed it, too, and thought about it a lot.
Also, in the last three months, my husband has gotten very serious about writing, and I have been helping him by editing and learning how the whole publishing thing goes so he can focus on storytelling, and that has also been a place where my energy has gone. It’s been a lot of fun, but it is also a great deal of work. That website is here, if you’re curious.
I am still knitted scarf crazy. Today, triumphant, I finished the edging on the scarf I put down a bit over a year ago. Feels so good. Tomorrow, I want to finish the other scarf that was ready to go except for adding a couple of beads. After that I will get to the scarf I had barely started, way back when, before life got crazy. And I have one more almost ready to start on. All four of these are based on characters from the wizarding world. And also I have more ideas, already asking if they can come out and play. Scarves, scarves, scarves!
This feels good. I’m glad to be alive.
What’s next? Unfortunately, things are still happening. My sweet old dog is dying of bone cancer. Sigh.