Tag Archives: Listen to Your Body

(Part Two) Listen to Your Body

I kept the fact that I was not doing well pretty quiet because I didn’t want to ruin my families time together (I can be prideful/stubborn sometimes… its something I’m working on). When my Mom asked for an update, I repeated what my doctor had said and told her I’d be following up with a cardiologist when I got back.

After a few relaxing days together, it was time for me to head back to the city. My sister Denise decided that she would fly back to New York with me at the last minute so we were doing the six hour flight together.

While waiting for our plane to board, something inside me compelled me to confess to my sister how awful I had been feeling. “Denise, for the past few days I’ve been really short of breath. I’m fine and when we get back to the city I’m going to see a cardiologist, but I just… thought I should tell you.”

Denise, looked at me with concern. “Okay,” she said slowly “can I do anything for you?”

“No, I’ll be fine.”

I slept most of the flight, it was winter so I had knee-high boots that I had taken off in order to be more comfortable. As people filed out of the plane, I wanted to put my shoes back on but I couldn’t move. I was too weak to bend down, pull my legs up or any of the subtle movements that putting on a pair of shoes requires.

“Denise,” I whispered. “I can’t put on my shoes, can you help me?”

The look in my sisters eyes was a mix of fear and concern that mirrored what I felt inside… something was terribly wrong. My sister crouched down and put my boots on for me, she pulled my suitcase from the overhead compartment and prepared all of our things. At this point we were the last people on the plane. I wanted everything to be okay, so I said that it was. I stood up and began to push my suitcase down the aisle behind my sister.

By the time we made the short walk to first class, I felt like I had no energy or strength left. “Denise, give me a minute,” I said sitting in a first class seat.

Then I fainted.

After being rushed to the ER in an ambulance and given multiple tests, it turns out that I had blood clots in my lungs, a pulmonary embolism. If you know anything about blood clots, you know that flying is the absolute worst thing you can do if you have them. This is why my situation came to a head after the long flight from California to New York.

Writing this story, there were plenty of times that I could have made different choices. Choices that would not have landed me in an airplane seat unconscious. If you read part one, you’ll remember that I basically told my doctor that I felt like I had a blood clot. My self-diagnosis was spot on, but I chose to follow what a doctor said even though it didn’t feel right. I could have gotten a second opinion, but I let a doctor minimize my symptoms and push me off onto a specialist even though I had a gut feeling about what was wrong with me.

I knew… my body told me what was wrong, but I didn’t listen.

I spent 10 days in the hospital, underwent surgery and once I got out of the hospital I had to give myself injections daily for weeks.

I’m fine now, fully recovered and the doctors have no idea why I clotted again since I wasn’t taking birth control or anything and all the tests that they run come back completely normal. I can’t thank God enough that my sister Denise was with me and I didn’t have to go through this alone. This experience is what made me fully commit to losing weight, its the only variable in my health that needs attention.

According to the APS foundation, each year, more than 600,000 people in the United States have a pulmonary embolism, and more than 60,000 of them die. Most of those who die do so within 30 to 60 minutes after symptoms start.

My symptoms went on for close to two weeks, including two 6 hour flights so I thank God constantly that I lived through a PE.

Listen to Your Body.

Listen to Your Body (Part One)

The following post is an elaboration on something I mentioned briefly at the beginning of this post in 2011. Very few of you caught what I mentioned, but those who did wished me well and that meant so much to me. I was pretty much traumatized by what happened and haven’t been able to blog about it until now. I shared this story briefly during Love Songs & Curvy Conversations on Saturday and so I will go into detail here for those of you who missed it. -CeCe

Climbing a short flight of stairs at work, I was winded. Like, really winded… my heart was racing and I couldn’t catch my breath. Once I got to the top of the stairs, I slowly walked to my desk to rest. Yes, one flight of stairs caused me to sit down and rest at my desk.

I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t figure out what.

I had been taking vigorous classes at the gym that lasted an hour and had no problems getting through them, so why was a single flight of stairs suddenly a problem for me?

Later that evening, the walk from the train to my house was also very difficult. I was trying to walk at my usual brisk pace, but it felt like I was running a marathon. The more I thought about it, the only time I’d ever felt like this was in 2006 when I was taking birth control to regulate my period. As most of you know, I have PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome. Birth control/metformin is a common prescription combination upon PCOS diagnosis. While taking birth control, I developed a blood clot in my leg (you know those fast warnings they list at the end of prescription drug commercials? yeah, those things actually happen). Anyway, we caught the clot early and after taking blood thinners for six months, I was given a clean bill of health and instructions to NEVER take birth control again, which I adhered to.

When I got home I called my Mom. I was due to fly home to California a few days later and I was scared I’d have to cancel my trip.

“Something’s wrong with me,” I said, then I gave her the rundown of what I’d been experiencing.

“CeCe, that doesn’t sound good at all. Can you get an appointment with your doctor tomorrow?”

“I can, but I don’t want to,” I replied.

“…why?” my Mother asked.

“If I go to the doctor and tell her that I’m out of breath when I go up a flight of stairs, she’s just going to tell me to lose weight.”

My Mom sighed deeply, “She might say that, but that’s not a reason to not go. You have to make an appointment tomorrow” I heard in her voice that this was non-negotiable, so I agreed and hung up with her.

My experience with doctors is that “lose weight” is their advice for anything I bring up to them. Even though I never had “fat person” health issues… no high blood pressure or cholesterol, etc. I felt like doctors never dug deeper when it came to my health, they just looked at me and the number that came up on the scale and felt that they saw the root all of my problems.

The next day, I went to see my doctor as promised. I told her what was happening to me, she took all of the initial reads of blood pressure, heart rate and temperature.

“I’m getting winded really easily and that’s not normal for me,” I said, “the only other time I’ve felt like this is when I had a blood clot in my calf from taking birth control.”

She asked me to take off my shoes and climb back onto the doctor bed in the room. The simple energy it took to follow her instructions made my heart race. “See, even doing something as simple as taking off my shoes makes me feel winded,” I told her. She took a look at my legs, “you seem fine… no swelling or tenderness, right?”

“Right.”

“Well, its probably your thyroid,” the doctor said, pumping hand sanitizer into her hands.

“My thyroid?” I said. I’d never been told I had thyroid issues before although I had an inkling that thyroid problems were considered a fat girl health issue, but I wasn’t sure. The doctor didn’t seem to think I was dying, even though the thought had crossed my mind.

“Do you think I’m okay to fly to California tomorrow?”

“You’ll be fine. When you get back, lets make an appointment with a cardiologist too, just to be safe. Of course, if you feel really terrible go to the ER.”

I feel really terrible now I thought to myself, but I didn’t fight her to do more. She was the doctor right? Even though my body was talking to me, the doctors voice rang louder. To be completely honest, I didn’t want anything to be wrong with me, which is probably why I accepted the doctors casual diagnosis. A girl in her 20’s shouldn’t be having crazy health issues and I’ve always been healthy and active despite my weight. I was fine… just my thyroid… I’d deal with everything after I flew to California and back.

“Okay,” I said and left her office.

Do any of you feel like your doctor can’t see past your weight?

(You ca read part two here…)