Kim within the hospital, visited by her pals and boyfriend, in 2019.
It was Christmas morning 2019, and I wasn’t feeling effectively. I used to be spending the vacation with my dad and mom in Oklahoma and had been complaining of shortness of breath and slight chest ache all week. I chalked it as much as anxiousness. But by the time I acquired to the airport 4 days later, I knew one thing was terribly improper…
My shortness of breath became heaving gasps after strolling only a few ft via the airport; I shuffled the remaining of the best way to my gate. I landed in New York that evening and instantly went to the ER. I used to be nonetheless satisfied it was simply anxiousness, including it to the listing of weird signs I’d collected through the years. I’d by no means stayed within the hospital for something. Even my dad and mom had no hospital visits, so the thought of one thing being improper with my physique was unthinkable. I used to be lastly seen by somebody round 1 a.m. The nurse was stern however very caring. “Right, so we did a blood test and you’re either having a heart attack or you have blood clots.” My thoughts went clean. WHAT?? I don’t have a blood clot! I simply want a Xanax, I believed. But after one other take a look at, it was confirmed that I had a blood clot in a single of my lungs, which defined the heavy respiratory.
The nurse began asking questions that may point out the trigger:
“Have you flown on a plane recently?”
“Are you on the pill?”
“Ok. You’re gonna have to stop taking the pill, immediately. You’re really young, and since you don’t smoke, I’m going to take a wild guess and say it’s either the plane or the pill.”
I used to be in disbelief. How may this be? I wanted a CT scan to see the dimensions of the clots, and as I adopted the physician previous rows of hospital beds into the following room, I doubled over once more, unable to breathe. She put her hand on my again and mentioned, “This is worse than I thought.” With tears rolling down my face, I lay on the exhausting plastic tray as heat dye stuffed my veins, illuminating the clots in my lungs.
An hour later, the nice and cozy and cheerful CT tech walked in and introduced, “Wow, you’re an overachiever! You actually have two clots — one in each lung. We call that a bilateral pulmonary embolism.” The clots had been enormous and placing pressure on my coronary heart. An EKG tech would come by within the morning to take a look at the blood circulate. My thoughts was reeling, and as they positioned me within the essential part of the ER with a Heparin drip, I tearfully known as my dad and mom and texted my greatest good friend Leslie, a nurse who made positive I advocated for myself. I drifted off to sleep at round 7 a.m. This wasn’t imagined to occur.
The subsequent 5 days had been a blur, as I used to be transferred to a different hospital, extra effectively outfitted to deal with my case. A staff of three younger medical doctors came visiting me on daily basis to replace me on my progress. “And you don’t smoke?” the primary physician requested, scribbling a word. “Nope,” I answered for the billionth time. “But you’re so young. It’s weird that you’d have blood clots at this age. Anyway, you should be out of here by New Year’s Eve!” The smiling physician left the room, giving me a wink whereas the opposite two medical doctors fell again. “Actually…” they began as quickly as the primary physician left the room, “your numbers are still very high, and you probably won’t get out by New Year’s Eve. We want to keep you as long as we can to make sure you’re absolutely safe.”
At the time, I used to be pissed off. All I wished to do was overlook these traumatic previous couple of days and have fun the brand new 12 months with my boyfriend. But I ought to have realized that the 2 medical doctors who stayed within the room had been looking for me. The peppy physician who’d given me a sunny analysis was a white man, and the opposite two medical doctors had been ladies of colour. My physician and nurses on the first hospital had been Black ladies and an Asian lady. They all had my again and on the time I hadn’t realized how fortunate I used to be. It made me assume of advocate and mannequin Mama Cax, who had simply died of a pulmonary embolism, not one week earlier than I went to the ER, and Serena Williams who needed to demand — greater than as soon as — that she get a CT scan for a pulmonary embolism after nurses refused to hearken to her.
I took going to the physician and assuming whoever was assigned to me would deal with me pretty for granted.
According to a 2016 research, 50 % of medical college students and residents believed Black folks couldn’t really feel ache the identical method white folks do, as a result of they’d thicker pores and skin or their nerves didn’t work the identical method. Black folks even have a 30 to 60 % greater probability of growing a pulmonary embolism than white folks. I left the hospital later that week figuring out that as a result of of these two medical doctors, I had been checked ten instances over earlier than I used to be cleared to go away.
Fifteen months later, I’m nearly on the opposite facet. After a 12 months of taking blood thinners, I’ve no extra blood clots, and I’m seeing medical doctors to substantiate the trigger. I’m nonetheless coping with a couple of who wave off my issues, and at first I believed, Well, they’re the consultants. Maybe I ought to simply hearken to them. But nobody is aware of my very own physique the best way I do, and I’ll preserve going till I discover the proper medical doctors who hear me. I always remember how fortunate I’m simply to be alive, even when coping with medical doctors who may’ve believed I used to be struggling lower than I used to be or that I used to be making it up. I do it for the lengthy wholesome life I’ll have, and the lives lower quick as a result of they had been ignored.
P.S. How I really feel proper now as a Black lady and turning into anti-racist.
(Photo from Kim Rhodes/Instagram.)