Kim is in hospital, visited by friends and boyfriend in 2019.
It’s Christmas morning in 2019, and I’m not well. I was on vacation with my parents in Oklahoma and had complained of shortness of breath and mild chest pain all week. I excited it to worry. But when I got to the airport four days later, I knew something was wrong …
My shortness of breath turned into gasps of gas after stepping through the airport a few steps; I drag the other way to my gate. I landed in New York that night and immediately went to the ER. I still believe it’s just anxiety, adding it to my list of bizarre symptoms I’ve gathered over the years. I’ve never been in the hospital for anything. Even my parents didn’t come to the hospital to see me, so the idea of something wrong with my body was unthinkable. I was finally seen by someone around 1am. The nurse is strict but very caring. “Yes, so we did a blood test and you’re having a heart attack or you have a blood clot.” My mind went blank. WHAT ?? I have no blood clot! I only need one XanaxI thought. But after another examination it was confirmed that I had a blood clot in one side of my lung, which explains the heavy breathing.
The nurse begins to ask questions that may indicate the cause:
“Have you been on a plane recently?”
“Are you taking medicine?”
“Yes. You will have to stop taking the pills immediately. You are really young, and since you don’t smoke, I would make a rough guess and say it was a plane or a drug.”
I didn’t believe it. How is this possible? I needed a CT scan to see the size of the blood clots, and as I followed the doctor through the rows of hospital beds into the next room, I had a double recurrence, unable to breathe. She put her hand on my back and said, “This is worse than I thought.” With tears rolling down my face, I lay on a hard plastic tray as warm dye fills my veins, clearly illuminating the blood clots in my lungs.
An hour later, the CT technician happily and happily came in and announced, “Wow, you are a fanatic! You actually have two blood clots – one in each lung. We call it bilateral pulmonary embolism. ” The blood clots are huge and stressful for my heart. An EKG technology will come in the morning to look at blood flow. My mind reeled, and when they put me in the vital part of the ER with a drip of Heparin, I tearfully called my parents and texted my best friend. LeslieA nurse made sure I made my own excuses. I fell asleep around 7 a.m. This couldn’t be happening.
The next five days were dim, when I was transferred to another hospital, better equipped to handle my case. A group of three young doctors visit me every day to update me on my progress. “And you don’t smoke?” the first doctor asked, scribbling. “No”, I replied for the first time. “But you are too young. It’s strange that you will have blood clots at this age. Anyway, you should get out of here before New Year’s Eve! The smiling doctor left the room, winking at me while the other two doctors fell on their backs. “Actually…” they started as soon as the first doctor left the room, “your numbers are still very high, and you probably won’t be out on New Year’s Eve. We want to hold you back for as long as possible to make sure you’re completely safe. ”
At that time, I was very disappointed. All I want to do is forget the painful days and welcome the new year with my boyfriend. But I should have realized that two doctors in the room were looking for me. The playful doctor gave me a diagnosis of heat stroke as a white man, and the other two doctors were women of color. My doctors and nurses at the first hospital were black women and an Asian woman. All of them were on my back and at that time I didn’t realize how lucky I was. It made me think about backers and models Mama Cax, who just died of pulmonary embolism, not a week before I went to the emergency room, and Serena Williams who had to ask – more than once – that she had a CT scan of her lung embolism after the nurses refused to listen to her.
I went to the doctor and assumed that anyone assigned to me would treat me fairly.
According to one Research in 201650% of medical students and residents believe blacks can’t feel pain the same way whites do, because they have thicker skin or their nerves don’t function the same way. Blacks also have a 30 to 60% higher risk of pulmonary embolism than whites. I left the hospital that weekend knowing that because of those two doctors, I had been examined more than ten times before I was released to leave.
Fifteen months later, I was almost on the other side. After a year of taking blood thinners, I have no more blood clots, and I am going to see a doctor to determine the cause. I’m still dealing with some people who deny my concerns, and at first I thought, Well, they are the experts. Maybe I should just listen to them. But no one knows my body the way I am, and I will keep going until I find the right doctor for me. I never forget how fortunate I was to be alive, even when I was in contact with doctors who might believe I had less pain than I was or that I was making up a story. I do it for the long, healthy life I am going to have, and life is cut short because they are ignored.
(Photo from Kim Rhodes / Instagram.)