I want to share a story with you. A story about a woman who was too busy to listen to her own body. That woman was me and I almost died on January 11, 2019. I'm not sharing this for you to feel sympathy for me and if you do, I truly thank you. I am sharing because what happened to me can happen to anyone. On January 10th I was on the NIKON stage giving two presentations LIVE to photographers around the world. This was my 3rd time speaking for Nikon and I was over the moon happy to share all that I had prepared for my talks. That morning I would throw up two times. I dismissed it as food poisoning. I would also get a sharp pain in my back. I dismissed that as a pulled muscle or just nerves before having to go on stage. I took some Tylenol, hopped in my rental car and headed to the Las Vegas Convention Center to give my talks. All went well and I was full of joy, excitement and adrenaline and never felt any further pains at that moment.
After the show, my fiancé would take me to Red Lobster to celebrate. Here is where I almost lost my life. I would begin to feel sick again, have more pain in my middle back now on both sides and dismiss it to "I'm tired" or "nerves" and I was DEAD wrong. That night I get little sleep as the pain increases. Early the next morning we head to the airport to catch our flight home and at this point I can no longer walk and barely breathe. The airport staff provides me with a wheelchair and they wheel us to our gate to wait for our flight. I should have went to the emergency room at this point but all I could think about was my daughters and how I wanted to make it home to New Jersey and seek medical attention there. As the flight boarded, it was pretty visible to everyone that I was in extreme pain. The flight attendants on our Southwest Airlines flight graciously moved us up to first class so I could be more comfortable and I took a muscle relaxer to calm myself down. 45 minutes into an almost 6 hour flight, I couldn't even breathe. I sat up straight the whole flight and grasped the seats armrests just praying that we would touch down soon and I could go straight to the hospital.
We land. By this time, I'm on the verge of collapsing. The staff of the airlines calls for someone to wheel me to my daughter's car who is waiting to pick us up, but they take so long that my fiancé grabs our luggage and pushes it AND my wheelchair through the entire airport to get me to the car. Had it not been for him, I would have died! I cry even typing all of this out!
We arrive to the emergency room and it's a blur for me here but I faintly remember him getting me inside, onto the stretcher and undressed to be evaluated. As I try to tell doctors what's wrong through pain, tears and no air intake; they rush me to have X-rays and a CT scan.
In little to no time they come back with news I was not expecting. "We found multiple bi-lateral blood clots in your lungs. Had you waited any longer to come in, you would have died." What did this mean? How did this happen? Why did this happen? I mean I just lost my mom to Cancer, why is this now happening to me? I was so confused, distraught and mad all in one wave of emotions.
My condition I would come to find out is called Pulmonary Embolism and I had no idea what it was or never heard of it but I had it. After 4 days in the hospital and now almost 2 weeks into bedrest at home, I have more knowledge about it. If you are on birth control, which I was, I strongly encourage you to stop. Hormones were a huge contributing factor to my blood clots. The other harmful thing was my flight time. The long flight there is what probably brought on the first wave of clots I was told. It is always recommend that you stand or walk when on a plane for more than a few hours and this is something I never do.
Which brings me to today. Today I got up the courage to share this story with you for a few reasons. People think my life is so amazing- great career, constant travels, new fiancé, etc... but I am flawed. I didn't listen to my body. I took harmful pills for a long time (birth control) and I selfishly tried to make it home because I didn't want to be stuck somewhere instead of listening to my body and getting immediate medical attention. I survived this miraculously but most don't. More people die from blood clots per year than Aids or automobile accidents. That's a pretty scary statistic!
If you feel something, don't ignore it. If you are taking hormones, I would suggest you stop. If you are on a long flight, get up and move. Never ever ever ignore any ache, pain or unusual feeling. I am home now. Resting. Getting lots of flowers, candy and love from my friends, family and sponsors and it keeps my spirits high! I find myself crying often as my doctor said I have a slight case of PTSD so I joined a support group on Facebook that has helped me tremendously! It's so uplifting to chat with so many others from around the world who have had this same thing happen to them and I am thanking God, my mom who I feel was my guardian angel and more importantly my amazing Fiancé for without them, I would not be here.
I hope my story encourages you to listen to your body. Know the signs and symptoms of PE and get immediate medical attention if you feel something is wrong. I am expected to make a full recovery and will be traveling again soon (February 23rd actually) and I'm not going to let this scare me. I'm on the right medications and have an amazing doctor who is bending over backwards to keep us on our toes with the proper care. I have to give up a lot of things (grapes, romaine lettuce, cranberry juice to name a few) and make some daily changes, but it will all work out in the end. I am Kiamarie and I am a PE Survivor and this is my story. Don't let it be yours...