Josh. Cali. McKallister. Oakland. Quincy. Camden. Murphy.

Amniotic Fluid Embolism

It was such a hot day by the lake that day but the kids were having so much fun swimming and using the paddle boat. My Sister-in-law asked me how I was feeling this week of my pregnancy, and I was so excited to report that I was much better. Obviously still nauseous, not keeping anything down - but the bleeding had stopped. All I was feeling was super grateful that it was over. After losing Mac and having blood clots after Oakland's birth, I was a nervous wreck this whole pregnancy! At least a dozen Ultra-sounds, more appointments with my Dr. and the at home heart beat machine (fetal Doppler) Josh got me attached at my hip. But I was officially half way through the pregnancy! So I smiled at my Sister and told her I was perfect.

*3 days later*

Uh, my body hurts so much. Why do I feel so groggy? Wasn't I just at the Lake? Wait, I know I lost Quincy, the pain in my heart. They did a hysterectomy, the pain on my stomach. How do I know this stuff? My throat hurts too. I open my eyes and see Josh, Dad, Mom, Dr's or nurses all around. What in the world happened...

*2 days earlier with the accounts from family, medical personnel and friends*

My daughter, Oakland, and I had just gotten home from church and were taking our weekly nap together. Josh was the second counselor in our Bishopric for our Church, so had stayed back to fulfill a part of his calling. The Bishop kindly offered to stay and take over for him so he could get home with us, and of course Josh took him up on it! He checked on us, made himself a pizza and then went downstairs to watch TV. When I called him on his phone he giggled to himself, thinking I was going to ask him to come upstairs and grab me something. (Did you know that you can totally get away with that stuff when you are pregnant! :) ) But all he heard was me breathlessly telling him I couldn't breath.

He ran upstairs, calling 911 on his way up. You could hear the panic rising in Josh's voice, but he somehow managed to stay calm long enough to answer the 911 operators questions. What's your name, where do you live... It wasn't until she asked what the problem was that you could hear his voice break. "I don't know".  I'll never forget the pleading and love that was palpable as he said "Cali". Over and over...with no response.  He thought for sure he was losing me and wasn't sure anyone would get there in time to help save me. I was breathing but weirdly. He couldn't find a pulse so the operator instructed him to start CPR. "1...2...3...4....I need help" She assured him someone was on the way but she needed him to stay calm and continue compressions. The worst part is that Oakland was there. In the room. Watching and crying. And all Josh could do was focus on me and the operators reassurance. After what seemed like an eternity, there was commotion in the background. "I'm up here!! We are up here!" The Sheriff was there, someone else to help with the rescue efforts. The Operator hung up hearing "Ok, I'm going to go take care of my little girl".

The Sheriff didn't want Josh to stop compressions and found Oakland in her bedroom. Holding her close and hugging her tight, this man has every ounce of my heart. Some day I will be able to thank him for protecting my most precious gift. When the paramedics got there, Josh was able to take the necessary steps.

First things first, respond to Oakland's persistent nudges, "Dad...Daaad...DAD!" "What Oakland?" "I want some Tootie Frooties". "Oakland, Just a minute". "No Dad, I need them NOW!". Kids are so resilient and I'm grateful for their little minds and the little things that make them happy and keep them occupied when times get tough...like tootie frooties.

Second, call a neighbor to take Oakland out of this chaotic scene that she should never have been apart of. Call my parents to tell them that I stopped breathing, they were working on me and he'd call when he had more information. Call his parents to come get Oakland and tell the rest of his family.

While he was doing that, the paramedics had gotten me conscious and on the stretcher. Bishops wife, Amy, had rescued Oakland and Bishop Rowley was there but all Josh and him could do was watch. A neighbor shared his accounts with me later, "I ran up to your house that day out of pure concern for our new friends, because my wife saw the ambulance from our house....When I saw Josh come down the stairs, I knew something was seriously wrong. I asked if you were ok, he said, "I don't know." Bishop Rowley told me what he knew of the situation, and as we talked, I realized how serious it actually was. I knew I was in the way, so I felt I just needed to get out of the way. As I went to leave, they brought you down on the stretcher, so I quickly moved aside. As I watched them work on you, I witnessed what true love really is. Josh rarely took his eyes off of you. The look of concern on his face I will never forget. As you screamed in pain, Josh would call out your name, and assure you that you would be ok."

Captain Kurk (fire chief) was in awe when his fire truck and crew got to the scene. Multiple cop cars, ambulances, neighbors. He knew things were bad by how many had responded and it only got more crowded as the cops had to section off our road in anticipation for the helicopter that was coming. There wouldn't be any room for it though, too many people were crammed on our tiny street.

Back at the hospital, the operators had worked together to assemble an air med team who were airborne only 5 minutes after receiving word.  My crew consisted of a high risk obstetrics nurse, a pediatric flight nurse and the pilot.  Once landed in a nearby field, the fire chief transported my girls directly to my house, through the crowds. Amanda, the pediatric flight nurse recalled, "As we pulled into the subdivision, we could see a knot of EMS providers surrounding Cali's stretcher outside on the lawn and bloodcurdling screams reached us as we exited the vehicle; I looked for law enforcement to help contain what I thought was a distraught family member, but no such person was in evidence. Instead, we saw Cali, a tiny 120 pound women shrieking, kicking out of the spider straps on the backboard and vomiting violently. Those helping her struggled to keep her from hurting herself and my years of emergency nursing and EMS experience made me wonder if we had a substance abuse problem on our hands. Windi's OB instincts, however, immediately put amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) at the top of her list."

We have since joked on Josh's response as Amanda snapped at him "What kind of drugs is she taking". Josh in total innocence replied, "Um... prenatal vitamins and enoxaparin" (blood thinner). Because of my hostility, they immediately decided to intubate, in order to transport me (and my flight crew) to the hospital safely. Josh stood beside Amanda, as she knelt at the head of the stretcher, holding my head in her hands. "Cali. Cali. Look at me, Cali. Calm down, Cali". But I continued to thrash while staring straight through her. Windi completed a rapid OB assessment, Quincy's fetal heart tones were present and good. There was no sign of bleeding but my once cute little belly was very hard, getting harder by the minute, which is a sign of intra-uterine bleeding.
 
Once I was intubated and sedated, they moved me towards the aircraft and talked to Josh about my history as we went. Josh told them about Mac being stillborn at full term, Oakland our second and my DVT's after having her. He then asked Windi what could be causing this and she mentioned her theory about an AFE, and Josh could hear her grave tone. He asked her if he could ride along and after sizing him up said, "Um you're a little Big!" (Josh is 6'6" and 270 pounds). As the aircraft departed, Josh ran back home to jump in the car. He called our families to tell them I was being flown to the University of Utah hospital and to meet him there. As Josh drove he googled "Amniotic Fluid Embolism" and was convinced he would arrive at the hospital to see that he had already had his last moments with me alive....

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My Brother in Law, Brandon raced to the church where Dad was having a meeting. It was being held in the chapel, where Brandon's Dad was conducting and had just started the meeting. Everyone saw Brandon come through doors, wearing jeans and a somber look. As my Dad turned and saw him standing in the doorway, he knew he was there for him and it must be bad for Brandon to come get him out of a meeting. In the blink of an eye everything was about to change. As Brandon bent down and instructed my Dad to come with him, they met in the hall only for Dad to hear "It's Cali. She's not breathing and they are flying her to the hospital".

Mom was on her way back from dropping Alex (my Brother) and their food off at my Grandma's house (they just live 3 houses away) and met my Dad in a hug. They still hadn't heard from Josh as to where AirMed was taking me so changed their clothes and waited in anticipation until the phone finally rang.

I was stable the entire ride to the hospital; still intubated, sedated, oxygenated, and ventilated but they noticed the hardness of my belly had turned into rapid growth. One hour and five minutes from Josh's initial 911 call, they could not have arrived at the hospital with more perfect timing. My parents, Taylor and Brandon had arrived 20 minutes before I did, and watched as my helicopter landed and I was wheeled to the Emergency Department. My girls could hear my Mom yelling for me, to know that she was there and told me that I was not alone and to not worry.

This is actually a picture of MY helicopter landing from my Mom's cell phone as they watched me arrive.
 
 
As I was making my way to the trauma room (picture from a later visit to the ER) the head nurse rounded up the staff that would be working on me. One recalled to me later that he would get excited for trauma's. They helped pass the time, he was able to really help people and the high from his adrenaline was something he lived for. As he started to show his excitement the head nurse turned to him and said, "You won't like this one, it's a 24 year old pregnant Mom, who is not going to make it."
 
I defied them all that day but not before my world came crashing down...
 
I had started to steadily lose blood. Josh had arrived at the hospital by now, along with his family and the rest of mine. They just waited in the waiting room with a social worker, who updated them as frequently as he had information. Doctors would come in with questions; How is her health, what medications is she on, how was her health as a child, is there a family history of ___? Does she have a history of seizers because they are pretty sure there was one in the ER, and Josh thinks I had one while he was working on me. They would come and go, sometimes looking more confused than before and preparing my family for the worst- IF she lives, she might be a vegetable...
 
Eventually they moved my family to the Medical ICU floor, where a conference room was reserved for them to be in. I can't even begin to imagine this time... waiting, anticipating, their minds running wild on them while Dr's eliminated one thing after another. Still not knowing if I was out of the woods.
 
 
This picture of my Dad is one of few I have of family members during this time frame and it breaks every piece of my heart. Being a Mom, I can't even imagine knowing your kids are suffering, knowing they are going through hard times physically and emotionally, but most of all- not know if you will ever see them again. I am really close to my family and knowing they were going through anything even slightly unpleasant on my account shatters me.
 
After hours, they finally allowed Josh to see me. Josh explains it in broken sentences when I ask him... " It isn't what I would consider a good time of my life. Cali, it's not something I want to talk about. Feelings? Scared, sad, anxious- You think of your worst nightmare and tell me words for it." I guess I don't blame him. When I think about it happening to someone I love, I get sick. This was the first time they saw me.
 
 
I was in a medically induced coma, I was still intubated (the tube down my throat) to breath for me, although I was only on a small amount of forced air which meant I was trying to breath on my own. The monitors on my head were to measure brain activity as well as check for any seizers.
 


What they had determined was that my INR was elevated and an Ultrasound showed I had suffered from a Placental Abruption, which led to the Amniotic Fluid Embolism- just as Windi had expected. They needed to do surgery but because of my INR, they continued transfusions throughout the night to normalize it. My family was sent home, they were going to need sleep for the days to come and there was nothing happening that night...

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“We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude.” Thomas S. Monson

In one day I was able to cross off more than a dozen items that no one adds to their bucket list (Ok maybe riding in a helicopter is on some, but not under those circumstances) and very few can say they experience by age 24. Still unconscious, still waiting for a surgery that no one wanted to hear the doctors say...

That morning they took some members of my family back to explain just what an Amniotic Fluid Embolism is. In short terms? The amniotic fluid somehow gets in to the blood stream. Once it reaches the heart, you go in to cardiac arrest. Most of us go into a coma immediately and some research shows that up to 90% don't make it through this first phase. Most that do survive will have neurological damage but also start to hemorrhage, or excessively bleed due to a condition called DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation). DIC causes blood to leak from the body because it can no longer clot. This was the stage I was in and the solution would be to take Quincy, this baby that I loved so much. There was no way he could survive this pregnancy but I still had a chance.

The morning of the 11th. Day two in the hospital before any surgeries.

My Mom talks about how hard it was for Josh to struggle through this decision. How he knew what he had to do but the pain was evident in his eyes. This boy... He has played a very significant role in my life since the day I met him. Many people ask if I have ever felt angry at him or resentful, but there is so much love towards him that there isn't any room for anything else. He made the hardest decision a parent could on his own because they were afraid to wake me up- afraid of how I would respond and what it would do to my health. But he made them, he couldn't do this without at least telling me.

My Mom said, "I'll never forget how Cali looked at Josh;  with such love and devotion, and you could tell he was her strength.  I was just off to the side holding her hand being the third wheel until she signed, "Baby."  Then Josh looked at me with absolute terror in his eyes which made Cali look my direction.  I don't know which one of us told her the doctors would have to take the baby to save her life, but I'll NEVER forget the pain, the anguish that we all felt in that room while Cali screamed "NO!!!"  in sign language, without a sound coming from her because of the breathing tube, but with that word reverberating through the room.  Then silence.  They had put her back under."
They took me back then. Most of both of my families were there while I was in surgery. I have many questions about this time that I'm afraid to hear the answers to so have never spoken them aloud. Even to Josh. They sometimes haunt me, but I have to trust that the doctors that took care of me took more care of Quincy. Please.

When I returned to the MICU, I was brought out of the coma but still was intubated. My brother Colby was in my room for a bit, but came running into the waiting room saying, "Cali is signing something and we can't understand her."  My Mom came running in to see what I was trying to communicate.  I was asking about Quincy and about Oakland. The interesting part of this is at that time there were multiple specialists in my room to discuss how much neurological damage I could have / should have suffered.  After watching my Mom and I talk back and forth for a minute, they left shaking their heads saying, "If she can sign and communicate with someone, she will be just fine!"  Add another miracle to the list.

I still have no memory of any of this. I could tell the story forwards and backwards because of how many times I have asked my family and friends to repeat it. It's like watching a movie 300 times. You can tell the story, you feel happy or lonely, pain or sadness along with the actors but that's all it is- a movie you can quote.

I made a second trip to the OR when the bleeding didn't stop, but they confirmed that they had successfully cleaned out my uterus. They then added a "balloon" to my uterus to help keep it's shape and to hopefully minimize, if not stop the bleeding I was experiencing.

I stabilized for 3 hours. During that time everyone left. My parents and Josh stayed. Our friend Tyler came to visit and Josh was convinced to go out with him and eat some dinner. During the 7:00-8:00 hours, the ICU is closed to visitors. This way the staff can swap out, update each other on the patience and we decided to also force the family to go eat. My parents just went to the cafeteria to eat and then came back up to the room set up for my family. At 8:00 sharp they started back to the ICU to be with me since Josh was gone. But there wasn't the silence in my room that they expected, rather it was alive.

My blood pressure had plummeted and my heart rate sky rocketed. An ultrasound at my bedside determined that there was a large amount of free fluid in my abdomen. I had to return to the OR for a third time, but they needed Josh's permission.

My Dad had to leave the room, it was just too much for him. Between him, my Mom and Josh they each had their moments where one was strong and the other two... weren't. I'm lucky that I had one of them by my side during every moment of this time. But I didn't understand this until later.

When Josh got there - and remember he's 6'5" and 250+ lbs talking to a doc who is no taller than 5'8" and quite thin - he stood face to face with the doctor as the doc explained that I was bleeding internally and they wanted to go in and stop the bleeding, but they may have to do a hysterectomy if they couldn't control the bleeding.  Josh had had it by that point.  He stood as tall as he could, got as close to the doctor as he could and said, "Just take the damn thing out!"  The doctor stayed strong, but noticeably cowered a bit while explaining they would only do a hysterectomy if there was no alternative. While Josh signed the paperwork, my Mom came in and took a picture. She couldn't get very close but she was convinced this would be the last picture she had of me.


As they wheeled me away, Mom grabbed Josh's arm and they went to get Dad and Colby (my Brother, who had shown up at the perfect time to be with my Dad) then went to a surgical waiting room to await the outcome. Slowly the rest of my family arrived and waited but more than that, supported Josh. My OBGYN who had delivered Oakland, was going to deliver Quincy and kept my sanity during the last two pregnancies was there among my family. I have had the most amazing professionals take care of me in my life and he is one of them. 

They were in the waiting room way too long without any news so called the crisis phone line, who guaranteed a call back. Minutes passed; the family was talking, crying, laughing, the TV on in the background. Just trying to pass the time without worrying themselves sick.

The phone rang and my Mom answered to someone from the operating room who told her that I had gone through a lot of blood, that they had had to revive me a few times (she believes he said 4 times) but I was still alive and someone would be out to talk to us soon.  As they hung up the surgeon came in.

He explained to the crowd that I had just barely survived the surgery. Only after an estimated blood loss of 4,200 ml and receiving 14 units of packed red cells, 13 units of fresh frozen plasma, 4 units of platelets, and one unit of cryoprecipitate (combined for more than 2 times the volume of blood a body holds) and reviving me multiple times. They discovered a large 5 cm defect in my uterine wall, necessitating the hysterectomy. Post- surgery and I was finally not bleeding and stable once again so they transferred me to the surgical ICU.

Obviously everyone knew how this outcome would effect me (and them) emotionally when I woke up but the consensus in the room was that of relief. After losing Mac, having blood clots after Oakland, and now this- future pregnancies would have been a major source of stress, fear, anxiety...!

Slowly, everyone left for the night and Josh and my parents were allowed to see me in the ICU. Knowing I was stable and going to be kept in a medically induced coma, they encouraged them all to go home and rest.


First thing that next morning they called my family to urge them to come quickly, they had taken me off the vent and things didn't look good. Josh was the first there and whatever the issue had been had cleared up by then. I was awake but in and out. A lot of medical personnel came in and out checking blood levels, temperature, heart rate, etc. At one point I even smiled, but then my family noticed that the left side of my face wasn't moving accordingly. The Doctors had been watching this and as they did over the next few days they realized that it was just a crooked smile I did/ do when not feeling well but trying to be positive.

Still not having any memory at this point, I am glad that I was still myself. Trying to smile when I could. Being polite to the Dr's and nurses who came in. And having my family around me every time I was awake (and asleep) to tell me these moments and recount what took place. These past few days completely changed my life, how I thought it was going to go, and what I had planned for myself. I would never have imagined this would happen but I also wouldn't change it. I grew insanely close to my family. I have memories of this time with my daughter that are cherished. I made new friends. My outlook on life is something I hold very close to my heart. And my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was solidified.

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What happened next? I slowly started to recover. My memory is really scattered around this time frame. I remember things but am not sure if it's my actual memory or people telling me the stories and me seeing pictures. I remember so many CT scans, MRI's, moving from room to room and a lot of Dr's and nurses and yet I don't remember them at all. Since I had been in the ICU or surgery, I hadn't been able to see Oakland. She had been with family members...and I actually don't even know who? (Maybe one of you could tell me about that time frame some time?) I just knew that she was safe and being loved.

 The first time I saw her was after I had one of my MRI's or tests that had taken me out of my room. I don't remember that test but I remember the gentlemen that pushed my bed and him telling me in such a calm voice that if it was ok with me, he would swing me by to see my daughter. She was waiting at the end of a hall and I wanted this guy to run so I could get to her faster but then I realized that would hurt so I didn't ask. She looked so different to me (older?) and this was the first time my heart ached to see family- realizing that I would be able to raise her and see them all grow. I noticed that someone had done her hair and I longed to be able to do that again. I still didn't comprehend the situation, didn't realize that if one thing had changed during the process I would not be alive but I felt overwhelmed to see her. I think Josh cried, I know I did.


 
Directly after all my surgeries, I still couldn't drink any water but my mouth was so dry. Like, I know what it would be like to live in a desert for a few days dry. There was a small sponge on the end of a stick that my Mom would dip in water and then put on my lips and tongue to give me a little relief. The first time she did it, I remembered it! It shocked me to remember something that I had never used before, only to learn that they had done this while I was in the MICU while I was still intubated. Something that small should not have made me so happy but man did it relieve that source of distress for me.
 
I believe the first room I was moved to after the ICU was on a maternity floor. Now this is my memory of this room, it could be totally wrong but here is an account of what I thought and felt during that time. My Mom sat next to me on the bed because I had a headache- one of the worst I have ever had. It hurt more when she touched me but I thought if she kept rubbing, it would go away and I really wanted it to go away because there were so many other places in pain too. I was so uncomfortable but they were doing everything they could to make me comfortable. Josh and my Dad were there and my Dad's parents. I remember my Grandma talking but I couldn't listen- it was too much to try and concentrate. My Mom was mad or irritated and then I noticed that my Dad seemed to be too but he just looked too tired to let any other emotion show but exhaustion. Josh just watched me but I didn't know why, he hadn't looked at me that smitten since we were engaged. :)
 
I asked my Mom to stop rubbing my head- I think I may have pushed her hand away because I just wanted the pain to stop and she left crying. Had I done that? Why was she crying? She went out to the hall and talked to a nurse, was she telling on me? She looked mad. (Since I was on a maternity floor, there was a baby basinet in my room and they could hear babies crying. She was begging this nurse to move me because once I realized what was going on around me, she knew it would break my heart to hear those sounds after losing Quincy. And it was already too hard for my family).
 
Then two nurses came in and I knew immediately that we liked them. I could tell by how everyone reacted but I couldn't place them. I don't think I had met them but Josh knew who they were and he loved them. He thought they were cool too- I could tell by how he treated them. They were really happy to see him and they all hugged and introductions were made. Windi and Amanda. I remember someone telling me that these ladies were my heros, had literally saved my life. Ok, I didn't know what that meant. My head still really hurt but these ladies were really nice and excited to see me. They explained that they were the ones who worked on me when I was on the helicopter. Someone suggested that they took a picture with Josh and I thought it was nice that they said yes. Little did I know that this would be my favorite picture and has a lot of meaning to me. Without these three, I would not be alive today. Windi said that she would come check on me again and I felt really safe and protected when she was around. I liked that. After they left, they took me to another room.
 
 
I still can't recall the conversation where Josh told me I had lost Quincy or they had to do a hysterectomy. I just knew it. He said that he had told me over and over. Every time I woke up, I wouldn't remember and he would have to tell me again. Live through it again. Watch my reaction again. He had so much patience and love during this time- regardless of the emotional pain he was going through. The next few days are all clumped together. I slept a lot so I never knew what time of day it was.

What I do remember most was the pain. I ached from the surgeries. I couldn't sit up, roll over or really move because of the emergency hysterectomy which left a stapled shut incision from my belly button down. (I'll spare you from looking at those pictures) There was a dull persistent pain in my lower back from just laying on the bed. My throat was mostly always on fire. Maybe from being intubated, maybe from not having a drink of water for days, could have been from being on oxygen- which made my nose dry. I was covered in bruises; IV's and the blood pressure cuff made my arms look like I had been hit multiple times- by a bus.

 
 
My family was there. A lot! I was never left alone and there were some days where Josh really needed to be with Oakland so my parents were stuck with me. I would tell them they could go but secretly prayed that they wouldn't leave me alone. If others were there talking, eating, laughing, I wouldn't have to let my brain go where it wanted to... thinking about Quincy and not being able to have anymore kids. At least every hour for the first few days a specialist was in my room to evaluate and re-evaluate where I was and what they needed to do to keep me moving forward.
 
On day 6 of the hospital I started to develop a fever and low blood pressure. Every little change would terrify me. I think my family was numb, even over the worry and being scared by this point but the days of my recovery were the scariest for me. After a very intense workup of CT scans and MRI's, they located a septic ovarian vein thrombus (blood clots in my ovaries). To keep the clot from potentially traveling to my lungs, they placed an inferior venacaval (IVC) filter and I would have to get back on blood thinner. Shots in my stomach. 
 
Before doing this surgery, they explained to me what would happen. With what I had been through, and what was ahead, I think they believed this was minor but I was a mess. A radiologist would use images to guide the filter into place in a large vein in the abdomen that returns blood from the lower body to the heart. Blood clots that develop in the veins of the leg or pelvis can occasionally break up and large pieces of the clot can travel to the lungs. The IVC filter traps large clot fragments and prevents them from traveling through the veins to the heart and lungs.
 
As with all surgeries, someone comes and grabs you and wheels you away from your family. I started having a panic attack and remember waiting in the hall as they cleaned the room I would be going in. A nice young man waited with me and as people entered and exited he tried to joke with me. But the nurse that prepped me for surgery could tell this was not easy for me and promised she would hold my hand the entire time. That room seemed so incredibly bright to me. I had had surgeries before but was always knocked out before entering the surgical room. I watched as everyone got ready, scrubbed up, but like she promised- she stayed put. Holding my hand and rubbing it with her thumb. She must be a Mom.
 
I don't think they put me all the way under for this surgery cause I remember the pressure of them inserting the filter and the Dr. talking through each step he did but I don't remember if she was actually holding my hand or feeling scared anymore so I'm not sure. When I became aware of my surroundings, she was there though to make sure I was ok. She even stayed with me until I was escorted back to my family. She didn't have to do that, but I can still see her smiling face when I think about her and remember feeling extremely loved during that moment, despite the fear that was in my heart. She is definitely a great professional but an even better women.
 

I didn't realize that I had this central line in my neck. I knew that they pumped medication in there and they had used it for the surgery but it never registered what it was. It probably would have freaked me out to know there was an IV hooked by my throat! I still have the smallest scar where it was but actually like it. As with any IV, when it's removed you don't realize how constricted that area of your body was. I remember getting the best nights sleep that night because I had one fewer place being held together by tubes, wires and needles.

When a fever would spike, blood pressure would drop, or heart rate would elevate again it felt like the end of my world. They wanted to do a CT scan at one point and wanted me to drink something to help identify what they wanted to look at. It was the foulest tasting drink ever and I still wasn't even eating so it pushed me over the edge- fast! My Mom was with me and took me for a walk to help distract what I was putting in my stomach. I remember getting back to the room and just sobbing. Begging her to not make me drink anymore and pleading for her to make the nurse say I had had enough. I felt like a little kid. I was going to throw it all back up and I remember just feeling like this was the worst thing that could ever happen. That stinkin' little drink.

Every day still I would get a little better, but sometimes would feel worse. I remember at one point it was just my Dad and I. I felt like my body had just had it. Not to mention my emotional state. I felt like I had to tell him to take care of Josh in case I died. Being so young, I hadn't ever voiced that to anyone (without it being a joke) so when my Dad came back into the room I begged him in a breaking voice, "Dad, if I don't make it will you please make sure Josh dates again and eventually marries for him and Oakland?" He smiled but could tell I was serious, and like every great Dad he reassured me that I would be ok. I had made it through the worst parts of this trial and I had been spared to be with Josh a little longer and raise Oakland until she was old. I think my meds kicked in then because everything faded out and I don't remember how the conversation ended.


It must have been at least a week since I'd been in the hospital and I was to the point that I could sit up pretty good....ok if I moved the bed it would sit me up pretty good. :) But the nurse came in and asked if I would like to go for a walk in the wheel chair. Josh, my parents and little brother Alex were there. It always took me a really long time to get from the bed to anywhere else but everyone was patient. Not only because of the surgeries but my legs and arms were just extremely week. I was also still on a lot of pain medication so was dizzy and sometimes not all the way there. I don't remember how it came about but they gave my family permission to take me out on the deck, outside! I had definitely forgotten that it was June and remember when the sun hit my face it was like magic. My body had adjusted to the cool hospital rooms so the warmth shocked me. I couldn't believe how great it felt on my skin and I missed it and realized that I longed for it. My family pointed out the platform that the helicopter landed on, showed me where they were standing waiting for me to arrive, we looked out over the beautiful valley and I didn't want to leave this magical place ever. I had such a different perspective already about this earth I was allowed to stay on.

From that point on I had ups and downs. Obviously they had to remove the IVC filter when it got closer to me going home. But they also had me up and walking with Physical Therapists every day. They eventually took out my catheter so I had to start getting up and trying to make my way to the bathroom.

 
The physical therapists showed me how to sit without putting too much reliance on my stomach muscles (that were non- existent), by rolling on to my side and then using my arm to push the rest of my body up. Now before I could do any of this to get out of bed, I had to unhook myself. I had pressure cuffs hooked to both of my legs to help prevent blood clots. In the beginning I wasn't able to undo those by myself because I just couldn't bend that far forward. I had to take the stand that held my fluids and medicine, hooked to me through all the IV's, so that had to come apart from the wall. It took me a good 10 minutes to actually get prepared to get out of bed, then quite a bit longer to hoist myself up (they didn't want anyone helping me so I got my strength back) and then make my way to the restroom.
 
My Dad had gone to grab a drink and I realized that I had to go really bad! Obviously I had to wait for him or hit the call nurse button but thought he would be back soon. Once he returned I told him he had to help me to the bathroom and by the time we unhooked me from the bed, I could not hold it any longer. Because I didn't have the muscles needed, about half way to the bathroom I just started going. Right there. On the ground. And all over my DAD! Now anyone that knows my Dad, knows that he is a gagger. Immediately I thought he was going to throw up. I started apologizing like crazy and between gags he was able to say, "Gag, no honey gag it's GAG fine. It gag happens, hahaha let's just get you GAG to the restroom... GAAAG." When I was finished, they were almost done cleaning up (Oh I feel SO bad!) and my Dad and I just sat there giggling for the next hour! We would get on another topic and he would just blurt out, "I can't believe you just peed on me!" and we would start laughing all over again. When telling everyone else about it (they didn't believe us) he would giggle and say, "At least you are alive. You can pee on me anytime."
 
 
Oakland was very intimidated by all the IV's and oxygen I was on so wouldn't get near me too often until all those things were removed. I remember the first time she snuggled in the bed with me... Every time I think about it I get so teary eyed. I put this little girl through so much when she was only 2 1/2. She was so strong and kept a smile on her face for me the entire time. I can honestly say that she is my best little friend and helped me get through this very hard time. When I ask her about this time frame, she always just says, "Oh yeah, when Papa Joe bought me my cow". (From the gift shop, one day he took her shopping). Sometimes she'll remember other pieces and ask me about them but for the most part, that cow was her lifeline.
 
I hadn't been able to shower this entire time (I'm sure I smelled lovely and hospital-ly) so when the time came for a shower, it must have been the greatest thing to happen to me EVER! My Sister, Amy, had brought a sponge and some amazing scrub. My Mom said that she would help because I still had a hard time doing small tasks alone and got lightheaded easily. I sat there just letting the water run over me. I'm pretty sure this was heaven. My Mom helped me wash my hair and did a pretty good job at keeping herself dry... just kidding. The women was fully clothed and soaked! But she knew this was such a big deal to me so didn't complain once. She washed my whole body and scrubbed/rubbed my back and toes. We scrubbed off goop from monitors and dye from surgeries. I felt like a new person after this.
 
Eventually they said that I was ready to start introducing food back into my body. I hadn't eaten in days but I wasn't hungry at all. In fact, food sounded quite repulsing. They let me select the options from the menu but I would wait until Josh was around so he would say what sounded good. I knew if he thought it sounded good I could sneak a suspicious amount to him while no one was watching and he wouldn't pay attention to how much he ate. :) I would take maybe one or two bites and feel stuffed! But would eat enough to keep my parents and Josh happy.
 
Josh's birthday came while I was still in the hospital. I remember feeling so bad that I didn't get him anything. I didn't really have rational feelings while in the hospital... but his parents got him a very good looking hoodie and I was extremely grateful that he got a gift. He kept telling me that the fact that I was alive was gift enough... such a nice boy.
 
Besides Josh and my parents, Ike and Amy were at the hospital the most. I remember waking up to them most of the time or hearing them out in the hall. I know Josh was grateful for it and I was happy to always have people around- especially them because they took care of my family while they were there. They lived near the hospital so I believe Josh ate most of his meals with them. A nurse had told us that we could go for a walk if we wanted and not just on that floor, but Josh could take me around the hospital to get me out of the area. We watched Oakland and Ike ride the escalators a hundred times and I could have watched them more, it made her so happy.
 
 
They raced through the skywalk and I remember Oakland telling me that Ike was her best friend. I was so glad that she was feeling loved, that he took the time to play with her and entertain her so that she wouldn't remember this time as sad or hard and I knew this was happening with whoever she was with.
 
It was so weird for me to see others just carrying on with their lives. Obviously being in the hospital they were there for a sick family member. Maybe a new baby being born or a surgery. But so many people were just walking around or sitting in the halls. Eating lunch or chatting with friends. I had been so sheltered in my room that this was so different for me and I realized that if the hospital was like this, then the rest of the world was literally still moving. We went to one of the hospital cafeterias and ate and then I just remember needing to sleep for hours after because it had taken all of my energy to be pushed in the wheel chair. :)
 

Nights were the hardest for me. Josh would normally stay late but then we would both agree that he should go be with Oakland. I was always relieved when one of my parents would stay. Even though I knew how extremely uncomfortable they must be. They weren't getting sleep but they would tell me that they slept better there then at home because if they were there they wouldn't worry. At home, they would just wonder if I was doing ok. I required sleeping pills to sleep at nights because my mind would just wonder and I would start to have major panic attacks or bad dreams once I did fall asleep.
 
I remember one time at night, Windi came to visit me (my airmed nurse). It was probably around 8 pm but I loved seeing her. She had become someone that I wanted to have around. She visited a lot and had given Josh her number in case we needed anything and to keep updated on us. Besides my family, I felt the most comfort when she was around and I realized that she would be one of my greatest friends forever. Even to this day, when I'm feeling scared or unsure- she is one person that I just want to have around because she has such a calming spirit about her. My Mom must have felt the same way because she never slept when I was awake and all of the sudden, Windi and I hear this abrupt fog horn sound coming from my Mom. :) She had fallen asleep. Fast and very soundly. I was put at ease to know that she could sleep soundly. Maybe for the first time in a couple weeks.
 
In the last few days of my stay, my parents would feel ok with going home during the day and letting others stay with me so they could catch up on sleep or shower or sit on a couch that wasn't hospital issued. I remember at one point having my Grandma come to sit with me. I didn't want to fall asleep because she was taking time out of her day to be with me but then I realized that she didn't care. She as content with just sitting in the room with me, watching TV or reading a book. I would doze in and out. Always feeling her love when I woke up. Seeing her smile at me or ask what she could do to take care of me. I kept thinking that I should be taking care of her instead of me ordering her around. I'm lucky to have my Grandparents still alive and will always cherish the one on one time with them- even under those circumstances.
 
Visitors came and went, some I can remember and others will tell me they were there and I don't remember the conversations we had together. It is a really weird feeling to just not remember parts of your days, especially since I was awake and communicating with them! I would fall asleep while some people were there and wake up to a new group of visitors. There were lots of flowers, one that stuck out to me were some fake flowers my friends, Shay and Aaron, brought. I remember seeing them lots and it was because they don't allow real flowers in the ICU so for those first couple of days, those were the flowers I was able to admire while in and out of the coma.

Friends from work came and told me that they were so worried when they first heard, that they all rushed to the hospital. The staff actually let them in to see me in the ICU! (At that point they didn't think I was going to make it so I think were way more lenient on letting people visit) I can't even imagine looking at a friend like that so will forever be grateful that they came to comfort me. I guess I grabbed one of their hands and wouldn't let go so we all laughed about that. I remember they told me how good I looked (which I probably did vs. the ICU with a tube down my throat) but I thought they were joking because I had seen myself in the mirror!

My friends Sarah and Stacie came, but all I remember is that Sarah told me she would braid my hair for me (this was special to me because she had braided my hair for me when I was in the hospital after having Oakland) and that she brought me a bright blanket so that I had some color in my dull room.

Aunts and Uncles came, the younger cousins would always look at me a little iffy. I'm sure their parents had told them to not bug me or talk quiet because everyone was always so careful with me. It probably had to do with the fact that I was covered in bruises, pale skin, and sounded hoarse when I spoke too. Oh and that I should have died. I remember when my uncle, Shaun, came. He is a occupational therapist. I was convinced he was going to make me do some sort of leg stretch or jumping jacks across the room but he was just as kind as ever, which made me realize that I must be in bad shape if he didn't want to push me around. Lol.

Josh's sister, Taylor had come up from Cedar City. I remember thinking what a long drive that was and I felt so bad that she made that trip all the way for me. It proved to me how much she cared about my family and I admired and loved her for that.

My Mom told me that our neighbor President Johnson and his wife Jill came to visit me but I don't remember that at all. I guess during that time I was focused on a social worker that kept hovering over my room. She needed Josh to fill out and sign some papers so kept checking in on him but I didn't know so just thought she was a creepy lady stalking me. I called her the vulture lady and I remember her quite well!

When I could move around by myself, I was on my way back from the restroom. You know how attractive the hospital gowns are...? And how revealing...? Well when I was on my own, I had a hard time keeping the back portion of this wonderful outfit closed. And who should come walking in to see my entire back end!? That's right... my Stake President. He was so gracious to come and visit me, make sure I was ok and ask if there was anything he could do for me. So... I didn't even care. :)

Josh started getting super antsy by about day 10 of the hospital. He wanted me to come home so bad and they were all starting to get sick of the hospital. I wanted to go home too but felt so secure in the hospital, it scared me to leave. Besides that, I had to accomplish doing two tasks before I was able to come home and both were not on my list of items I felt like doing anytime in this life! 1. Getting the staples taken out of my incision. 2. Going number 2 in the restroom (sorry lots of information on that one).

The nurse came in to take the staples out and told me that it doesn't hurt too bad. Mostly the skin is numb around where they cut so I shouldn't feel much. Josh wasn't there and I'm deathly afraid of needles (great for what I had been through huh?) so the fact of them pulling staples out of my stomach made my insides turn. I convinced her to wait until Josh got there- I needed his comfort and to hold his hand. You know when you are younger and they tell you to squeeze someone's hand if it hurts? I'm pretty sure that is psychological but man does it work for me!

They literally have an instrument that looks like your average paper staple remover. She had to get between the skin and staple, clamp down to open the staple and then pull it out. Doesn't sound too bad right?... WRONG!!! OWWWW! I believe that is what it feels like to get stabbed in the gut! And only 30 more to go! I have a pretty high pain tolerance but blech. I was almost due for some pain medication so they gave me that and she said she'd come back in about half an hour. Super nice but that half an hour just gave my mind time to mull over that awful pain and plan on more. It was very miserable to say the least but actually felt very nice to have those out!

Now last but not least. Using the bathroom. It had been 12 days of being stopped up. Probably because of the surgeries, definitely because of the medication and possibly because doing any sort of pushing felt like my stomach was going to burst clean open. I had been on a lot of laxatives, pills, milk of magnesia, everything combined and nothing was moving. But that was the one thing holding me back so of course the hubby was very into asking me about that every two seconds. The night before I went home... I was so proud of myself! I called and texted my entire family and they were all very supportive in offering the correct amount of excitement for this task I had just completed! Now they could start the paperwork to get me home.

I couldn't be by myself, so we arranged for me to stay with my parents while Josh was at work. So they weren't having to move me a bunch we agreed that I would just live there for the next few weeks and Josh would go back and forth between taking care of our home and sleeping with me. Oh it felt amazing to sign that last piece of paper, say goodbye to all the nurses (I was actually really sad to say goodbye, they had taken the very best care of me) and get every last IV taken out. They gave me a brace to wear to hopefully help hold my stomach muscles for me and Josh and my Mom wheeled me, flowers and about 12 bags worth of stuff we had accumulated at the hospital out to the car.

 
And just like that, I was going home. My discharge diagnoses included several that are only seen on death certificates; suspected amniotic fluid embolism, cardiopulmonary failure, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, intra- abdominal hemorrhage after uterine rupture, emergent abdominal hysterectomy, septic ovarian thrombus, factor V heterozygote, and IVC filter placement and removal. It all seemed so bizarre. Having gone through something like that, my emotions were obviously the thing I had to focus on now. My life had been turned upside down. I still had a long way to go to heal, my body was exhausted most of the time and I wouldn't have 3 nurses by my side constantly. I was nervous and anxious but ecstatic to finally be home.


4 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I can not even begin to understand the pain you suffered but your story helps me be able to go through my own struggles. The gospel is true and miracles do happen and you are living proof. Thank you so much. :)

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  2. God is real. God blessed you. AMEN!

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  3. Cali, I came across your blog quite by accident last night. I actually remember reading about you through a blog when you were hospitalized, and am so happy you survived and are doing well. I am actually a DIC survivor, and so much of what you have shared is so familiar and has brought back so many emotions. I developed DIC 8 days following the cesarean birth of my 5th child and had an emergency hysterectomy and was life flighted to SLC (3 1/2 years ago). It's been quite the journey, and I can't imagine the trauma and grief you have experienced. I feel as though I was guided to find your blog and needed that reminder this week of how blessed I am to be here and how precious life is. I would love to meet you! Thank you for sharing your story and your sweet family.

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  4. Kelly, it's crazy that you heard my story and then stumbled across it later! I am so glad that you did, I have rarely met any other DIC survivors. Most people aren't even sure what it is! I'm so sorry that you have had to experience similar circumstances, and a hysterectomy but it sounds like you are here to bless the lives of your kids!! I also saw that your husband was in an awful car accident?! It sounds like both of you are still here for something great. We will have to get together sometime, I would love that! Thanks for sharing a piece of your story- you are amazing!

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