Four years ago today (December 15th), I had a very bad car accident. I’ve written about it before:
Writing about it has given me some peace. I struggle internally sometimes – because I don’t like to be seen as weak. Sometimes I hold it in. Like today. I was in the car before I remembered the day and its significance. On the highway. With my husband driving.
Four long years. And I still remember the date every year. It’s like a wound that’s healing – but it hurts each time you rip the bandaid off to clean it.
This year was a good year. No surgeries. The lawsuit finally got settled a few months ago. Not a giant windfall, but enough to keep me comfortable.
Two weeks ago, I got a steroid injection in my foot. So far so good. For the first time in four years, I can over-exert myself without paying for it later.
There is though, one part of the story I haven’t told. Today, I’m going to let you in.
Two weeks before the accident, hubs and I went for a short romantic weekend trip. It was just over an hour by plane. About 15 minutes before the plane landed, I found myself quite short of breath.
I suffered from childhood asthma. Very mild. As my lungs matured, the symptoms all but disappeared. And when I did have them, it was usually triggered by over-exertion and allergies.
The symptoms I was feeling that day – the tightness in my chest, struggling, concentrating to draw every breath – were very similar to asthma. As my asthma presented typically when exposed to allergens or during activity as a youth, sitting on a plane, I was surprised at its appearance. I hadn’t had an “attack” for years. And I didn’t have a puffer with me.
But as the plane set on the ground, the tension eased. The compression loosened – and my lungs released.
At the time, I found it odd. I worried that it would present again on the flight home, but it didn’t.
And then, December 15th, I had the accident. I spent several days in hospital before the surgery. The night after the surgery, I was settled in a ward bed. There were three other patients with one nurse in an office in the middle. I carried an inhaler for my son in my purse (I haven’t carried my own for years) – and the nurse got it for me. For several hours, I had difficulty breathing – I think they assumed that I was having anxiety as a result of my traumatic injury and that I’d had long-term asthma. When I finally disclosed that I was confused by the symptoms given they didn’t usually present at rest, there was a sudden flurry of activity. It was in the middle of the night. They brought an x-ray to the room.
There was a blood clot in my lung.
I never saw pictures of it – but I know now how very dangerous it was. The doctors assumed that the injury to my leg had caused the clot – and it traveled to my lungs (thank goodness) instead of to my brain.
But to this day, I’m not sure. I’m not sure that I didn’t have the clot that day on the plane. And that it lay, somehow dormant, until the accident made everything worse. But it was already there. By some miracle, I was in the hospital when it re-materialized. And I had an incredibly astute nurse who figured out what it was.
So in some way, the accident may have been a blessing. Without it, I may not have gone to the hospital. I may have written off my symptoms as asthma. And I might not be writing about it today.
Celebrate with me my friends. Life is mysterious and wonderful. And we’re all very lucky to be living it.