If you’ve noticed, I’ve been a bit MIA and believe me, it’s definitely not my intention.
It’s been a difficult week around here and I could not have made it without the help of my family. My mom has helped so much with the girls and SO much more. My sister has helped with the girls and with relaying my situation to my employers– when I wasn’t physically able to do so myself.
My brother’s been there as a voice of reason and to drive me to appointments when I wasn’t capable to drive and even my dad has tackled sinks full of dishes and made meals for the girls. Hubby, of course, has been there for me 100% through it all and Kat has been my texting buddy from the moment I felt off and up until I got into the ER.
Oh and my Gabby, my beautiful little Gabby–she has been by my side helping me in every way she could. This kid has a heart of gold and I truly have been blessed with an angel. Making me smile and wishing I could laugh, I love this kid with all my heart.
Through this dilemma, so many others have sent their thoughts and kind words. I thank-you all.
My family is just simply amazing and my friends are the best.
So, what happened?
Well, it was quite a journey actually. At first, I thought I had pulled my shoulder or slept wrong. I woke up to a paralyzing pain in which I couldn’t move and where it felt as if I was being stabbed in the chest. I tend to get muscular pains every so often, so I dragged myself out of bed and into a warm shower. I felt pretty sore still afterward and Tylenol just wasn’t working.
Something wasn’t right.
Apart from what I thought was a routine “normal” ache and pain, there was a sharp pain in my right pectoral area and it radiated to my shoulder, down my shoulder blade and down my trunk and alongside the bottom of my ribs. It hurt when I breathed in, coughed, sneezed, laughed or even talked too loud.
I decided to book an appointment with a Registered Massage Therapist considering I had a busy week of work ahead of me. I needed to get well and get well fast. Normally, my massages are quite enjoyable, this time when I laid flat on either side, I had an unbelievably hard time breathing. My RMT assured me that my muscles were so tight that it was restricting my breathing.
I was in a lot of pain but I figured, no pain–no gain.
I went home, still feeling so sore. I couldn’t lay down because I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I sat for most the day, until the pain intensified to the point of unbearable. I’ll let you know that I have a high threshold for pain but, I was in tears. I asked my mom for help and spent the day with them. My brother offered to drive me to the chiropractor since this seemed to be something beyond muscular.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would end up being what it was.
I went to the chiropractor the same day since they managed to squeeze me in the late afternoon. That was another painful experience but she determined that I had a dislocated rib. She said that being out of alignment and things of the such were common in my profession and she sees many women in the nursing/medical field with similar issues. She also mentioned that she hates how unfairly we are treated but, that’s another can of worms. Anyway, she re-adjusted me and I was sent off to follow-up with her the next morning and to see my family doctor as well.
Well, I went home for the rest of the evening and propped myself up with pillows. Made a little “nest” area on the couch. After a while, I was sore and tired and decided to try to go to bed. I attempted to lay down only to suffer a near panic attack, I couldn’t breathe for the life of me. To save you the gory details, let’s just say I got nauseous and I coughed up bloody sputum. Perhaps that was still TMI. Well, I called my dad and asked him his opinion. He told me to go the ER, that this isn’t normal for a muscle injury, there’s something else going on.
Reluctant and defeated, I went.
Progressively my breathing became more labored, my pain intensified and my heart rate accelerated. My tachycardia reaching 140 BPM at one point. I was put on oxygen, given fluids and Heparin (clot buster) intravenously, given an EKG and poked and prodded one time too many. I even got an arterial blood sample (where they draw blood from one of your arteries opposed to a vein, it is in a deeper location and close to the bone) to test my oxygen levels. I think in a matter of hours, they took my blood work 4 times and each time they took at least 3-4 samples.
The doctor determined I had fluid in my right lung, he ordered chest x-rays and a CT scan. I had to wait until 7:30 A.M. until I could take the test and that in itself was a painful feat, considering I had to lay on my back. I wasn’t allowed any type of narcotic pain relief due to the fact that it may slow my breathing, which was already labored. I waited for results and hours later my doctor came in to tell me that I had a PE. In those exact words.
A pulmonary embolism.
A blood clot in the arteries of my lung. Actually, bi-lateral embolisms which mean that there are clots on both of my lungs. They are fairly large as well.
I didn’t bother to ask where, whether it was the main artery or such. I was just kind of in shock, in pain and riding on no sleep for almost 2 days. I just shook my head in acceptance and he explained that I will be placed on Coumadin (blood thinners) and would have to come back to the hospital every day to get injections via my tummy. As well as take-home scripts to fill and plans on seeing a respirologist as soon as possible was now on my agenda.
It was just unreal to me. I never thought I’d ever be on Coumadin (at this age anyhow) or that had I not sought medical help the results could have been life-changing.
Blood clots can cause strokes, heart attacks or SUDDEN DEATH.
So, what caused it?
They determined by judging by my signs and symptoms, the cause was my birth control. Birth control already carries the risk of developing blood clots and now, unfortunately after having suffered this, I am discovering that the form of birth control I was on was one that has seen many cases of PE along with strokes, DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and heart attacks.
A ring that is placed into the vagina for 3 weeks and taken out for a week to allow your menstrual cycle to occur. A drug that has an entire website devoted to help you sue the company if you or a loved one suffered a PE or any reaction by using this drug.
According to Wikipedia, there are over 730 cases against Nuvaring and trials are scheduled for 2012 and an estimated 40 deaths. Referring from various class action lawsuits against Nuvaring, it is alleged that the ring releases a combination of hormones in far greater amounts than the company states.
- As well as marketing and selling Nuvaring as safe and effective for use in the prevention of pregnancy
- failing to adequately warn consumers of unreasonable and dangerous side effects some of which are life-threatening
- failing to conduct adequate pre-clinical testing and post-marketing studies to determine the safety and side effects of Nuvaring.
- failing to use ordinary care in designing, testing and manufacturing
- failing to exercise due care when advertising and promoting
Birth Control Facts You Should Know: (via Women’s Health)
- Nausea, vomiting, constipation, or bloating
- Irregular menstruation and spotting
- Breast swelling or tenderness
- Decreased libido
- Weight gain or loss of appetite
- Mood swings, anxiety, nervousness or depression
- Changes in vaginal discharge and vaginal infections
- Headaches, dizziness and fatigue
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Acne or permanent discoloration of the face
- Fluid retention
- Bone density loss
- Hair loss or changes in hair growth
- Enlarged ovarian follicles
- Eye problems or vision impairment
- Gallbladder disease and gallstones
- Resistance to Insulin
- Immune system suppression
- Heart attack
- Breast tumors and liver tumors
- Ectopic Pregnancies
- Links with certain cancers such as cervical cancer
- Blood clots in legs, lungs, heart and brain
This is why I am sharing my experience with you, I tend to keep certain aspects of my life private and to me this is something that is humbling and a moment where I was very vulnerable and powerless.
I do it not for pity nor to indulge the curious. Certainly not to satisfy the cruel.
These are moments that are chosen to be shared with loved ones and those close to you because quite frankly it is a private matter. Even your employer, by-law has no right to ask you the why/what or how if it isn’t work-related and if there is an inquiry it should be done in a private manner. Sometimes these circumstances and illnesses are better understood when they are suffered either directly or through a family member.
Then and only then is when there is clarity.
But, I’m choosing to share this with you my readers and the public because I want you to reanalyze your birth control choice.
In so that you do not make the mistake I did and fail to research the form of birth control I chose. It’s easy to just take your physician’s advice because heck, that’s what we are supposed to do but, I urge you to take a step beyond that and investigate the risks whenever you choose to start a new drug.
I for one have immediately discontinued the use of birth control, which I had only started with the purpose to control my monthly cycles. I loathe taking anything unnatural unless I have to and I should have been more vigilant and informed. But, Nuvaring had the responsibility to let me know the higher risks of this form of birth control harbored. I had restarted this form of BC for the first time after years of not using it. I just thought, even after reading “may cause blood clots” that it would NEVER happen to me.
But, after this extremely painful experience, the risks far outweigh the benefits for me. I’m fairly active, I eat well, I don’t smoke and I am under 30. The risk of blood clots is relatively small for someone like me. The odds weren’t stacked against me and I still managed to be a part of that small risk group that was affected by a near-fatal reaction. Daily trips to the hospital, daily blood work, being on powerful drugs for months (ones that also carry their own risks) and injections in my stomach are NOT worth it. Not to mention that because of this blood clot, I may always be susceptible to them and may have these problems for the rest of my life.
Only time will tell.
So, with time and medication, I am on the mend (I hope) and hoping to get back into my old routine again. One day at a time. For now, it’s plain rest and avoiding over-exertion to begin my journey back to 100%. I’m also reporting that impassioned conversation is taxing on me and singing has definitely been out since I’ve been diagnosed with this. I miss it but, you better believe I’ll be back at it very soon.
By no means am I trying to discourage the use of birth control or argue your position about them. Whether you take them or not, that is always your personal choice. The large majority never experience side effects and it works quite well for them. I do advise you to think twice about using Nuvaring in particular, there have been a very large amount of issues with this form and I strongly do advise against it.
Friends, be informed. Get second and third opinions, read reviews, claims and complaints and make sure there is enough information and data available to make you feel comfortable with a product’s safety.
They say that a man who has health, has hope and a man who has hope has everything. But, you know what? I may not have 100% health at the moment but, I damn sure do have hope and I know that I’ve gotten through the tough part, now it’s the road to recovery and I am so beyond grateful that I am still here to enjoy my family and see the girls grow.
Thank-you all for your kinds words, I truly do appreciate them.
Til then, cheers m’deres.
Disclaimer: All the medical information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for any medical advice or treatment for any specific medical condition. I am merely sharing my experience in hopes that you take a little perspective away with it. Always seek a professional’s help if you need it.
Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela, and wife to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.