I Broke My Leg and Almost Died

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I Broke My Leg and Almost Died

If you had told me at 50 years old, that a broken leg could have ended my life, I would have said, “You’re crazy”. Maybe I’m a little overweight but other than that I’m healthy. I’m fine. Nothing life-threatening could happen to me.

Or so I thought.

I Broke My Leg and Almost DiedSunday night started like any other night. My husband, Gavin was home, and we were doing typical family stuff. I was getting around on one of those knee-scooters, thanks to a broken leg. I wheeled myself to the kitchen counter and noticed my heart racing and I was overly winded. “Weird, that’s new.” How did moving three feet make me winded? I focused on my breathing, slowly getting my heart to calm down and gain control over my breath. I knew five weeks immobile in a leg cast had affected my stamina, but this didn’t feel right.

That was my first warning bell, and I ignored it.

Later that night, just taking a shower made me feel like I had run a marathon.

That was the second warning bell, and I ignored it too.

While lying in bed that night I searched ‘heart attack symptoms in women,’ then stayed awake all night, afraid to fall asleep. What if I didn’t wake up? I didn’t have all the symptoms of a heart attack. So no, I’m not having a heart attack. Maybe I’m having a panic attack? Surely that’s it. Nothing more. I had already been such a burden on my family after five weeks in a cast…so must be just a panic attack. Right? Besides, we are having people over for Memorial Day, I don’t want to have to cancel everyone’s plans. I can’t be that person.

Looking back at this point, I shake my head. Why didn’t I stop right then and prioritize MY
concerns? Why didn’t I listen to MY body, which was clearly letting me know something was
wrong? Honestly? Because I didn’t want to wake up my husband. The husband that has been doing everything around the house for weeks now. I should let him sleep because I’m just overreacting. And I can’t wake up my daughter and drag her to the hospital this late at night. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow.

I made the excuse that I was putting them first, but I was actually putting myself last. And yes, there’s a difference. By putting myself last, I almost made my husband a widower… my daughter, motherless.

In the end, it was my husband who insisted we go to the hospital the next morning.
Waking up on Memorial Day Monday I couldn’t make it five feet without panting. He was the first of several angels that day, simply by getting me to the ER when he did.

In the ER I met my second angel, Dr. Malcom. After clearing my EKG Dr. Malcom immediately suspected a blood clot and started the process of confirming his diagnosis. He ordered a CT scan of my chest. My color was changing so quickly that he called for a cardiologist before the CT results were back. Ten minutes after that scan, Dr. Malcom walked into my room and gave me the news.

I had an Acute Saddle Pulmonary Embolism and it was “large enough to be a problem.” If I would have waited any longer to come in, I may not be alive to be telling you my story.

Anyone who’s visited an ER knows there is a lot of waiting, and most of the time you are waiting alone. But from that point, all the way into surgery I was never alone.

Then God delivered the final angel of the day, Dr. Achtchi. Though his primary job was to save my life, he prioritized my mental health too. He kept me calm and talked me through the next steps. Dr. Achtchi explained that while I was awake, but sedated, he would go up the main artery in my groin, into my lungs, and remove the clots that were suffocating my lungs. The clock was ticking. With every heartbeat my condition was worsening, so we didn’t have time to wait. After over an hour of removing all the debris from my lungs, Dr. Achtchi was the angel that delivered me back into the arms of my daughter and husband.

I was lucky. I was blessed. I was saved for a reason. But it could have ended differently because I didn’t believe in my own ability to know something was just not right. So here’s my challenge to you… 

Listen to your body. Your health is more important than any excuse you can make. Those that love you want you to be your own champion. Don’t doubt it. Go! If you see the doctor and you’re fine, great. Go home. But what if you aren’t fine?

Did I think I had a life-threatening blood clot after I broke my leg? Not in a million years. But I did. As busy moms, we are used to running the show. Everyone depends on us, and I know it can be hard, if not downright humbling, to ask for help. But what I learned the hard way is this: pride is not more valuable than your own life.

Be sure to visit Atlanta Mom to read self-care posts.
Hi, I’m Kimberly Backos. I moved to Atlanta in 2003 working in corporate advertising & marking for a regional fashion chain. After 11 years in fashion marketing, I transitioned into the new and developing world of digital marketing. My career spanned multiple advertising agencies in the Atlanta area until 2018. A few years after marrying my husband and having our only child, I transitioned into the rewarding role of a stay-at-home mom, caring for an active preteen and three fur babies.

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