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Pain Saved My Life

Pain Saved My Life

I remember the day night clearly. I’d spent the day at school, in class and volunteering hours for an on-campus organization. Then, I left to go spend almost 3hrs in an LA courtroom volunteering more hours.  I felt fine.  Nothing in my body hinted at  any type of problem. There was no pain, no ache, no warning.  Nothing seemed off center until I got home and suddenly my left leg felt incredibly stiff. Enter the ache. It’s nothing I’ve never felt before and I wrote it off as just having sat in an uncomfortable position for 2hrs.

 I figured I’d just stretch out on the bed and ride it out.

Again, it was nothing I’ve never felt before. It was like a crook in your neck after you laying the wrong way all night, or a sore arm after you’ve kept it in the same position too long. I would wake up the next morning and be fixed!

PS: I woke up the next morning NOT fixed

In fact, I woke up the next morning struggling to get out of bed. I had class and I refused to miss it. Every movement of that left leg was painful, at that time it was just a dull pain but, it hurt more when I put weight on it to transfer in and out of the bed/shower/toilet/etc.  By the end of the day, after once again sitting all day in my wheelchair, it grew worse.  I stretched, just like the doctor at the medical center showed me when my leg hurts.

It hurt to move. It hurt not to move.

So, I massaged my leg and went to sleep.

The next day, Saturday, was even worse.  I spent the day with my brother, my boyfriend and his friends.  My brother is a massage therapist (in training) so I asked him to rub my leg for me.  But every time he massaged one spot, the pain seemed to jump to another.  I sprayed a topical muscle relaxer on it. I put a heat pad. My boyfriend came home and helped me do stretches. I fought through the tears and pain because I HAD to loosen this muscle.  I thought it was just a tight muscle – a result of sitting all day finally catching up to me.

By 3am I couldn’t take it anymore. We walked 7 blocks to the nearest ER. Every bump in the sidewalk hurt. Every shift made me cringe.  At the ER, they shot me up with Dilaudid, which the doctor explained was a synthetic morphine. Oh good, I thought.  But good was GREAT because I had to take X-Rays and it required a lot of moving.  I felt almost nothing.  Almost.

I had a blood clot

Next came the ultrasound.  Then came the news.

I had a blood clot. “A good sized clot” were the doctor’s actual words. They’d also have to admit me for a couple of days to thin my blood.  Immediate fear. Immediate worry.  The doctor remembered seeing me rub my leg earlier and told me not to massage my leg and not to put a lot of pressure on it because it could dislodge.  More fear. More worry as I recalled the last few days of rubbing and pressure. I could have killed myself!

I had a blood clot.  I sit in a wheelchair all day.  I sit all day. What if it happens again? When did this one form? The doctors said it could have been forming long before I actually felt the pain. So, if I hadn’t felt the constant pain, I wouldn’t be here.

One week plus one day.  That’s how long I was in the hospital. I was in the hospital missing out on life.  But no, I really was in the hospital so I could have a life.

We think we know our bodies. I thought I knew my body well enough, too.  I figured that a pain in my leg was because of my wheelchair, which it possibly was, and that stretching would be okay.  Stretching probably made it worse but, at least I caught something that could have killed me before  – well, before it killed me!

I couldn’t finish school this semester and for that I’m quite sad.  I miss my daily routine.  But something good did come out of this:

I quite smoking


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