Trouble breathing and a heart full of love
Friday, Jun. 17, 2022 - 9:34 pm.

I had a huge scare last weekend. I started to get a dry cough and to have trouble breathing on Saturday evening. Nothing agonizing, but something I would have expected to experience when I had covid, not when the infection was gone and the symptoms were starting to fade.

I got a bit desperate on Sunday morning and I wrote Brother #2 -a specialist in respiratory diseases- to tell him. I was expecting he'd say to prepare an infusion or whatever, but he wrote back alarmed saying I had to go to the ER ASAP. He said it might be blood clots in the lungs. I told Andrew and off we went.

I thought a lot about dying. I got really scared thinking I was about to die. I was terrified to the point of tears of leaving Andrew behind, and of hurting my friends and family by leaving them like this (I've been loved enough to be able to speak this way, more on that later).

I was not gasping for air, but I could feel I didn't have much oxygen in my system. I was light-headed and I was constantly yawning. It seemed my lung capacity was coming and going, but overall I had to make an effort to fully breathe. I was so scared that, at any moment, my lungs and throat would suddenly shut down and that would be it.

We spent all afternoon in the ER. This was a private clinic so attention was decent (how inhumane, this private/public healthcare divide). The doctor ran some tests and X-rays and everything seemed fine. I, figuratively, breathed with relief.

Then I reported the results to Brother #2 with whom we kept texting throughout the afternoon. He said hell no, X-rays cannot tell us if I have blood clots in the lungs, I needed a CT scan, he actually had told me from the beginning that this was the test to get. But that was not the one that the ER doctor chose, and I was a bit confused as to what I was getting anyway.

So I spent Sunday afternoon and evening worried sick. I kept wondering if I should tell my other family members, if I should tell my friends what was going on, just in case. I was scared this might get worse, but also, it could be nothing, I'd have them worry over nothing.

Then I also learned that Brother #2 did not tell our first cousin who got covid to go to the ER because the cousin said his breathing wasn't too bad, and then he died two days later from a blood clot. But that was at the start of the pandemic, when we knew nothing about the virus, we had no vaccines, and my brother and my cousin were half a continent apart, so who could blame my brother for anything? But it became plainly obvious to me that he was still feeling guilty, and he feared the same thing might happen to me.

Brother #2 did tell Brother #1 (also a medical doctor) about what was going on with me. Brother #1 called me and told me to count to 10. I did. Then he called me a dork and said I was fine, that Brother #2 is just like my dad and worries too much.

Brother #1 made me feel relieved. Still, this covid thing and its aftermath is not to be taken lightly, so I'm glad I got this checked, just to be sure. To keep Brother #2 appeased, Andrew and I still searched for another doctor to get the CT scan. I found a doctor who had a slot the next day, Monday morning, and off we went. Bless Andrew who put everything aside to come with me again.

We had to wait a lot, but the doctor was very nice and helpful. He said I've developed asthma. It's likely it will go away. I'm gonna go ahead and confess that I'd always wondered what it felt like to use an inhaler. The ER doctor had already prescribed me one, and this doctor prescribed me another one with a slightly different application.

We were leaving his office when Andrew insisted if he could still send me for a CT scan. This was Andrew knowing very well that Brother #2 was gonna tear me to pieces, and then tear him to pieces as an accomplice, for not getting the very test he sent me to get. We told the doctor about my medical doctor brothers and he so kindly agreed to send me for a CT scan.

It was a good thing that I didn't die, because it was Andrew's birthday on Wednesday. I had breakfast delivered that morning, I got him a fancy F1 illustration as a gift. I had my CT scan that afternoon, so he came with me for that and afterwards we went for dinner. But we got out too early from the hospital and restaurants hadn't opened yet. We ended up at a Starbucks eating on the outside tables as night fell, and that still was a beautiful moment that reminded us of our time in Sheffield.

We finished off this day at another hospital (the one where I'd gone to ER), because a dear friend of ours has his dad in the ICU. We stopped by to see him and his partner, another dear friend of ours. They've been there for over a week now, bracing for the worst and just barely hoping for the best. Andrew later told me he appreciated having spent the night of his birthday being there for a friend, and that's how big his heart is.

I talked about all this in my therapy session (also on Wednesday). The scare, fear of death. Somehow the conversation steered to how much my family loves me and how they've always made me feel valuable, like just being me and being there is more than enough for them. I've always been aware of what an awesome family I have, despite their (our) shortcomings. And I thought a lot about them while I was scared on Sunday.

In fact, when I was waiting in the ER, my dad texted. Out of the blue. For no reason. A quick message saying hello and asking how we were. For all I complain about my dad, let the record show that he's always had a sharp intuition when something's wrong with his children, even if he doesn't know-know. I told this to my therapist, because we've talked before that, for all the hurt he might have caused me, that has always been overshadowed by his fatherly love. I'm a walking collection of wellbeing protective factors.

I was sorry to lie to my dad and tell him we were OK. But also I didn't want to worry him. Brother #2 would not tell anyone else about what was going on with me, only Brother #1 because he's also a doctor and far more chill than the rest of the family. But I kept debating between telling people, in case things took a turn for the worse and I didn't get a chance to speak to them again, or not telling them to avoid having them worry over what was (and turned out to be) nothing serious.

Ok, no, it was a bit serious. Not being able to breathe properly is always serious. Let's say it wasn't life-threatening.

Therapy's made me reinforce my appreciation for my family. I've always had it, I've always been aware of it, but now I just feel it glows and it makes me think of them more, and makes me want to do more things for them. And it makes me hate being so far away from them with so few chances to get together.

My therapist is in awe at how much love and genuine care we have for one another in my family, and she sympathizes with me over being temporarily denied the chance to adopt. It doesn't make sense, considering how loved I've been and how capable of loving I am. But as I told my therapist, with my voice cracking, I think my parents will not make it long enough to meet my child, and that breaks my heart. My therapist shares the heartbreak. She says the kid(s) coming my way will be so lucky to have the family I have.

Anyway! It's been an intense week. And let's not talk about my friend Virginia ripping me a new one for not texting her from the ER, and Helen worried sick but also being so kind to visit my parents and making their day, a day before she left our home country (but she'll be back to meet me in July). It's funny she learned so much family gossip while being there visiting them, she was in the loop much more than me. 

It's Father's Day in my home country today, so I called my dad. He was happy, he'd had a good day. My mom was happy too, and she'd met with her girlfriends (back from when they went to school together in the 50s!!!), which she rarely does. They've been having some of their children and grandchildren over lately, so they've been on a good streak. I think it's worth noting this. I wish my parents were always this happy.

Aaaaand Andrew's contract with uni finally came through! We're still not entirely sure if he will get paid next week, per the payment calendar, but it's a done deal. He's officially employed by uni and will have all the benefits that have been denied to him for over a decade. And also we might be getting a car soon, but more on that as things develop. It just feels like things are finally coming together for us.

Moreover, I feel a bit like the Grinch with therapy and after this week. Like, lately my heart has been growing a few sizes.

Stay safe <3

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