‘I’m finally happy, and now I’m going to die?’ I was losing blood from somewhere. My heart sank. I was terrified. All I could think about were my children and my husband.’

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“I have been plagued with various health problems my whole life, but this past year has taken the cake. Three hospitalizations, two surgeries, countless tests and almost dying, and that’s just since February.

I was diagnosed with endometriosis after I had my son Aiden 9 years ago. I had always had horrible periods, and after I had him (via C-section) I struggled with chronic, daily, agonizing pelvic pain and pressure. It was absolutely horrendous. Doctors often scoffed at my diagnosis. If I had any sort of pain or problem, it was automatically written off as ‘just your endometriosis’ and they want to throw awful drugs at you that do more harm than good. I was treated with Lupron, which caused me terrible joint pain, along with other problems. You are just left to suffer.

A few years later I had my son Ryder. My pain, periods and everything worsened. I felt awful 24/7 and was shown zero compassion from those around me because I was ‘always sick’ and ‘something was always wrong with me.’ My OB-GYN at the time was also less than helpful. I went on the depo shot, which didn’t help and caused me to gain a ton of weight, along with other side effects. I ended up getting divorced from my first husband, and then reconnecting with Taylor, who I had previously worked with. God sent me this man. He is amazing, has been so understanding and patient through all I’ve been through. He has stayed by my side through it all. I couldn’t ask for a better husband. We got engaged, and since he had no biological children of his own, we decided to stop preventing pregnancy at that point because with my endometriosis we figured it would take a long time for me to get pregnant. Well, we were wrong. We got pregnant almost right away! We were absolutely overjoyed.

Pregnant woman with endometriosis stands beside crib for little boy
Courtesy of Martina Fox

We moved the wedding up and got married on January 26th, 2017. I gave birth to our son Kieran on July 3rd, 2017, via repeat C-section. The nurses came in, got the spinal in and laid me down. Not long after they laid me down I started to feel funny, but thought it was just my anxiety. Nope! I started feeling like I was going to pass out. At that time they hollered, ‘Her blood pressure is bottoming out! Get the epinephrine!’ They gave me the epinephrine and brought my husband in, and the surgery went fine. Our sweet boy was born weighing 7lbs. 3oz. And was 20.75 inches long. He was perfect! We were over the moon with him, and so were his brothers who had wanted another sibling for years.

Woman with endometriosis lays smiling in hospital bed holding newborn
Courtesy of Martina Fox

My recovery was awful. I started swelling extremely badly, my blood pressure spiked, I had a constant headache and just felt like crap. I had postpartum preeclampsia, which I didn’t even know was possible prior to this. I finally got back to normal about 2 months after I had him. Then at 3 months old, Kieran was diagnosed with MRSA above his lip and was hospitalized. He was on strong antibiotics for a while which really messed with his poor little system, but finally was clear of the infection. He is a MRSA carrier though, so any time he gets a break in the skin we have to worry about possible MRSA infection. Once he got straightened up, my problems started. My periods were absolutely out of control, I did nothing but bleed constantly. I would fill overnight pads within an hour. I stayed in pain, it was completely unbearable. I was in so much constant agony. I was taking NSAID pain relievers like candy, because that’s what they told me to take, and acetaminophen didn’t help at all. I started also having stomach issues.

In February of this year, I got extremely ill. I was home alone with the baby and I couldn’t move I was in so much abdominal pain. I was throwing up, and felt like I was dying. My husband kept telling me I needed to go to the ER, but being someone who has had so many health problems and one too many ER trips, I was being stubborn and refusing. He came home on his lunch and found me doubled over on the floor, unable to move from pain. At that point he told me it wasn’t my choice, I was going. I kept insisting maybe it’s just a bad virus, but he said I needed to go anyways.  I got to the hospital and they were giving me morphine and I was still in agony. They ran some tests, including a CT, and found I had intussusception; which is where part of your intestine (bowel) telescopes through another part of your intestine. It is extremely rare. They told me I needed emergency surgery and would have to cut out the affected section of the intestine. This was a major surgery. Of course, I lost it. I was not prepared for this! Here I was thinking I just had some awful stomach bug or something and now I’m being told I have to have part of my intestines removed and stitched back together, and am looking at a minimum of a 3-5 day hospital stay afterwards?! I cried and I prayed. I was terrified of this surgery.

Woman laying in hospital recovering from pregnancy hooked up to monitors
Courtesy of Martina Fox

My husband prayed, held my hand, and told me how much he loved me until I went back. When I awoke, I found out that they went in laparoscopically at first to look at everything before making the large incision, and that my intestines had corrected themselves. Hallelujah! God was listening to our prayers and came through in a big way. I stayed overnight in the hospital, and got to go home the next day. Since this incident, I’ve had a ton of stomach problems and lost a lot of weight. I’ve lost 40lbs, which is a lot for someone who is 5’1″ and I continue to lose even now. I was eventually referred to a gastroenterologist. She went over all my symptoms, ran some labs which came back showing me allergic to pretty much everything, referred me to an allergist and scheduled me for an endoscopy with one of the doctors there. I saw the allergist, Dr. Clore, who went over everything with me, prescribed me some medications, and ordered some labs. They gave me the lab order paperwork and told me I could have them done at Baptist in Madisonville, where I live, at my convenience.

Being a wife, mom of 3, business owner and struggling with my health; of course I forgot completely about the lab order I had on my fridge. In the meantime, I had my endoscopy and was diagnosed with severe eosinophilic esophagitis, mildly severe gastritis and a non-bleeding ulcer. After my endoscopy I just felt AWFUL. I had zero energy, my head hurt constantly, I was having really bad abdominal pain, mostly on my right side. A few days after my endoscopy, Aiden and Ryder had an appointment with their pediatrician at Baptist and I just happened to remember the lab order on my way out the door. It was a last second thought. I thought, ‘Well I can just get these done and out of the way since I’m going to be there anyways.’ It had been 2 weeks since those labs had been ordered! I took the kids to their appointment, got my labs done, and came home and laid down because I was so exhausted.

Young boy sits on bed in doctor's office beside younger brother who sits on doctor's stool
Courtesy of Martina Fox

Around 6 p.m. I received a frantic phone call from Dr. Clore. He had received my labs back and my hemoglobin, hematocrit, etc. were all extremely low. Blood transfusion low. He asked me how I was feeling, and went over a list of symptoms and asked if I had them. I mostly answered yes, but told him I’d been having a lot of problems lately so it was hard to tell if I felt bad because of the issues I was having or if it was from my blood levels. He urged me to go to the ER, and explained how serious this was and how he suspected I was losing blood from somewhere. I told him I had a follow up appointment with my gastroenterologist scheduled for 10 a.m. the next morning and asked if he thought I could wait until then. The last place I wanted to be was in the ER. He told me that would be okay, but if I had certain symptoms to immediately go to the ER. He said if my numbers had dropped any more by then, then I was losing blood from somewhere and would more than likely need blood transfusions at that point.

The next morning I had my appointment with the GI and she talked to Dr. Clore and got a new lab order in. She scheduled me to receive a blood transfusion. I get to my mom’s to pick up the boys after my appointment and they call me with my hematologist appointment. It wasn’t scheduled for another THREE weeks. They managed to bump it up to the next day, but I didn’t make it there. The GI called later that day and, sure enough, my blood levels had dropped. Regardless, she blew me completely off, and scheduled me for another endoscopy and colonoscopy A MONTH LATER.

I got home and got extremely, deathly ill. Taylor called the GI to see what we should do, but the GI refused to speak with him and had the receptionist relay this message, ‘I am not accepting calls. If you are THAT concerned the Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.’ Taylor made one more call and spoke to a nurse in the ER who told him it wouldn’t be pointless to bring me in, that they could give me blood and stuff if needed and get me back home. So here I go to the hospital, thinking I’m going to potentially get some blood and go home… nope.

As soon as they triaged me they took one look at me and put me straight in a room, ahead of a bunch of other people. The ER doctor had reviewed my earlier labs and came in and told me I wasn’t staying there, that he was putting in a call to Deaconess, a larger hospital. I had dropped even more since earlier that day. My heart rate was through the roof because I had such little blood and my heart was struggling to pump blood everywhere it needed to go. They told me they were going to have to start blood transfusions before I could even be transported to Deaconess because my heart rate was so high, I was running the risk of a heart attack. He told me it was a good thing I came in when I did because at the rate I was going, I would’ve been dead in 1-2 days max. My heart sank. I was absolutely terrified. I had no idea how bad of shape I really was in. Yes, I felt and looked awful but I had been sick for so long that it became hard to gauge when to be concerned.

Woman takes selfie in hospital bed hooked up to monitors
Courtesy of Martina Fox
Close up of IV of blood in woman's arm
Courtesy of Martina Fox

All I could think about were my children, and my husband and how I wasn’t ready to leave them behind. I’ve been through a lot in my life, and thought, ‘I’m finally happy, and now I’m going to die?’ I went over everything I wanted to happen in the event I didn’t make it with my husband, and cried the entire time. I was terrified I would die and that Aiden and Ryder would grow up without their younger brother Kieran, since they have a different father, and if I did die, they would automatically be placed with their father. I begged Taylor to make sure the boys always had contact with each other and got to see each other. I couldn’t stand the thought of my boys growing up apart. I told Taylor if I died, to please find someone who would love him and our kids like I do. I told him I didn’t want him to be lonely, and it was okay if he moved on. That I wanted him to be happy, just to make sure it was someone who would be good to him and good to the boys. I begged him to always keep my memory alive with the boys, by telling stories, sharing pictures and make sure they never forget how much I love them.

Husband stands smiling with arm around wife who sits in hospital bed in selfie
Courtesy of Martina Fox

I also apologized. I apologized for the fact that I might leave them alone. I felt guilty. He kept assuring me it wasn’t my fault. I cried to my mom, told her how much I love her and how much I appreciate her and my dad and all they have done for me, including adopting me and getting me out of a life I more than likely wouldn’t have survived as a defenseless 2-month-old when I came to them. I cried and told Taylor to always make sure that my parents got to see the boys, because they are crazy about all of them. I cried, I prayed, I cried some more. They started my blood transfusion, as well as some other medications and off I went by ambulance to Evansville to Deaconess.

We never found the source of my blood loss after a week of every test known to man being ran on me. I had 2 endoscopies that came back completely clear of anything, including no ulcer. I had a colonoscopy which was clear, a small bowel capsule study which was clear, Meckels test which was clear, a CT and ultrasound that was clear. But I had continued to drop so I received more blood, as well as iron transfusions while I was there. My body had virtually no iron and my ferritin level was only a 5. Finally I stabilized and was able to go home. When I got home, I had to follow up with my new OB-GYN, Dr. Katie Friday, and the hematologist. Dr. Friday didn’t think my periods or anything female related had anything to do with my blood loss, but changed my birth control to where I would have no inactive week with the hopes of stopping my period completely. My periods would not stop, I was in severe pain, passing large clots and I felt like I was giving birth at all times from all of the pelvic pressure. I saw my OB-GYN again and she told me at this point my only options were to try depo again, or have a full hysterectomy. At 26 years old, my husband and I made the hard but necessary decision for me to have a full hysterectomy.

Woman with endometriosis smiles while laying in hospital bed with husband by her side in selfie
Courtesy of Martina Fox

They performed a total abdominal hysterectomy on me on August 28th, 2018. They took everything; both ovaries, tubes, uterus and cervix. Not only was everything covered in endometriosis, but I also was diagnosed with adenomyosis and I had a small fibroid tumor. My uterus was enormous from the adenomyosis and was the source of all the worsening pressure I’d been feeling for years. A hysterectomy isn’t a cure for endometriosis, but it is a cure for adenomyosis, and I feel so much better since my surgery.

I am still having stomach problems, and in regard to the weight loss they mentioned possible Crohn’s disease or celiac disease as the culprit, but we don’t know yet. I am also still seeing a hematologist to monitor my blood levels; hemoglobin, hematocrit, iron, ferritin, folate and B12. Unfortunately even since my surgery some of my levels aren’t staying where they should be. We still have no answers on the blood loss, but I am just thankful to still be here. How everything unfolded was a miracle! The fact I forgot the lab orders for 2 weeks – because if I would’ve had the labs done when they ordered them, I would’ve never found out about the blood loss, never went to the hospital, and would’ve died. I honestly believe God sent Dr. Clore to me to save my life, and that he did! He was the only doctor I saw that was concerned about my blood loss, and wanted to make sure I got treatment. Dr. Clore saved my life. If it hadn’t been for his concern, his advice, his urgency with the blood results when the GI blew them off, I would’ve never gotten treatment. For that, I am extremely grateful.

I am so thankful to still be here with my kids and husband, and I have no doubt I’m going to keep conquering whatever this crazy body of mine throws my way. I have a whole new perspective on life, and I am just in awe of all the ways that God moves in our lives. If you are going through any situation, whether it’s with your health, finances, relationship, or whatever it may be… God always has your back, he has you fully covered. You are strong, and you are beautifully and wonderfully made!”

Mother with endometriosis sits in Chuck E Cheese with her two sons beside her
Courtesy of Martina Fox

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Martina Fox, 26, of Madisonville, Kentucky. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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