In a few days is the first anniversary of my second (third?) blood clot. It was my second hospital stay for blood-clot related reasons, let's just keep it simple.
My first set of blood clot(s) - one in each lung, technically making them 'pulmonary emboli' rather than 'deep vein thromboses' (which is what the second one was) - happened two years ago; in fact, my second clot-i-versary coincides neatly with my wedding anniversary. I spent my seventh anniversary in Bellevue with a heparin drip, an EKG and pulse oximeter, a tray of uneaten chicken and mashed potatoes, a desultory hand-made card from my husband, and incredible amounts of tension. Shortly after I arrived home from Bellevue, after I went back to work, I asked him to move out. Nothing like piling tension on tension.
The second clot - the DVT - was a surprise, because I had quit the Pill and considered my problem solved. Actually, that's not true; I lived in holy fear that it would happen again. When I was striding across the overpass in the Newark Gateway Center I felt a sharp, fierce twinge in my calf and I knew what was happening.
The first time I was hospitalized I was numb and exhausted, having been running around with blocked pulmonary vessels for far too long. The second time, I was angry and anxious. I was uncooperative and demanding; I got my bags searched by Mt. Sinai Security when I railed against my lack of anxiety meds and threatened to take my own pills.
Over the past two years, I've paid thousands of dollars for injectable heparin. I've been so loaded with Klonopin I've been a zombie at times, the anxiety attacks being fierce and frequent. I've looked like a fat bruised junkie more than I care to remember. I've taken innumerable cabs to stew in innumberable waiting-rooms for constant monitoring and agonizing.
Since last year, I've lost weight, continuing on my pre-clot fitness 'kick' with renewed energy and a great deal more help and support. It's no longer a kick; it's how I'm trying, as best I can, to live my life. At the same time, I'm trying to go easier on myself, personally, while pushing myself to live properly (as my old shrink used to say).
I've gotten a new shrink, and a new doctor or two. They are wonderful women who help me take care of myself in so many ways.
This year I learned that I have a condition that will clot up my blood with relatively little to do with me - it's a genetic problem that causes me to produce antibodies that gum up the works (anticardiolipin antibody syndrome for you educated folk). You'd think this would make me more fatalistic; it may have two years ago, but it strangely doesn't now. It has made me rethink the desire to have children, which waxes and wanes, because the miscarriage risk is incredibly high. An interesting corollary, no doubt, to my reproductive woes.
Two years ago, or one year ago, I couldn't have handled this news. Two years ago, I'd not be wearing a skirt without stockings or probably even this patterned pink top that I adore. I'd not be pumping weights at the gym with pleasantly few aftereffects the next day, or less than I expected. I'd not be walking a six mile walkathon, or running for a train (in my case, a fast hobble down the subway steps; my peculiar knee anatomy has resigned me to my awkward downhill gait). I wouldn't be marching in a Memorial Day Parade. I'd not be forsaking a bag of chocolate almonds on my desk or refrigerating half a sandwich after lunch.
I'm very lucky. I'm loved and needed and alive. In the peculiarly wobbly cycle of life, it's what I am truly needed to be right now.