“‘You can’t put me in ICU Room 6…my mom just died there last week.’
My mom struggled with health conditions most of her adult life. The struggles really escalated after my dad passed away from cancer in 2008. She had a necrotic skin infection that took over her entire stomach. She spent a month in the hospital just a few weeks after my dad’s sudden passing, before she had a life-saving surgery. She would struggle to gain her health back. My grandmother, her mother, passed away in 2012. Just a month later, my mom was working out in the yard and fell ill. She was rushed to the emergency room and diagnosed with a heart attack and a congenital heart disease. I’ve always said this was the moment my mom was diagnosed with a broken heart.
My mom was my very best friend. I was her only child and the light of her life. In January 2017, my mom would collapse, and I would watch her health deteriorate quickly. Doctors were unsure of what was happening to her. She was in and out of the hospital. One day in April, she was admitted. I went to visit her, and she was hallucinating and then she collapsed. She coded right in front of my eyes. I remember not saying a word. I was ushered out into the hallway and it was just bright lights and a swarm of movement, but I couldn’t process anything. She was taken to the ICU.
‘Everything will be ok. We got to her in time,’ the doctors said.
I sat by her side. I held her hand. I asked for her to just be okay. She passed away just two days later.
I had lost my very best friend. I thought to myself, ‘What am I supposed to do now?’ All I had ever known was taking care of my mother. I would go home, cry and try to piece together the next steps of my life. I was lucky enough to have my cousin Meghan with me to help me.
One day while I was taking the garbage out, I all of a sudden felt a tightness in my chest and struggled to breathe. My first thought was, ‘Well here is the panic attack I’ve been waiting for since she died.’ As I continued to walk towards the door, it was getting harder to breathe. I told Meghan that I needed to sit down. I pulled out my mother’s portable blood pressure cuff. My heart rate was 120 and climbing. I decided laying down was my best bet. ‘Amber, get some rest. Tomorrow is a new day.’
The next morning, I woke up thinking, ‘AH, back to normal!’ Then I tried to walk to the living room. That was the hardest 15 feet I’d ever walked in my life. I started reaching out to my nurse friends and voicing my concerns. They all advised me to go get myself checked out at the ER.
I arrive at the ER and I am immediately taken back to the triage area. ‘Oh, good. I won’t be here all night!’ After a few initial tests were performed, I was escorted to a room. I was feeling a little guilty taking up a room because I was being overly cautious about my anxiety. The ER doctor came in to see me. I remembered her and she remembered me. She was the doctor that admitted my mom just two weeks earlier. She grabbed my arm, looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Amber, you have severe bilateral pulmonary embolisms. We have to take you to the ICU.’ All of the monitors I was connected to started to go off. My heart rate shot up in my panic. I looked her right in the eyes and said, ‘You can’t put me in Room 6. My mom just died there last week.’
My mind was a complete blur. I kept thinking in my head, ‘Am I going to die?’ I put on my best funny face and decided to be as strong as I could be because I didn’t want to scare Meghan. I was transferred upstairs to the ICU just two rooms away from where my mom took her last breath. I had so many doctors and nurses surrounding my bed. Hooking me up to more machines than I could count. I had to have a venous doppler scan to see where the clots had originated. The clots were starting to put a strain on my heart. I was bed ridden. I could not sit up or turn over in order to protect myself from the clot breaking off and killing me. One of the doctors asked me when the symptoms first started. I replied, ‘Well two days ago, but I just tried to sleep it off.’ I can still hear his voice break when telling me, ‘Amber, why didn’t you come in sooner? If you would have gone to sleep again tonight, you might have not woken back up.’ I can remember the chills I felt hearing these words.
I sent Meghan, who was 4 months pregnant, home to rest. I remember just staring at the clock watching the hands slowly tick away. I was so damn scared to fall asleep because I didn’t know if I was going to wake up. I was mentally writing my goodbye letters to everyone. I was going through my long list of regrets. I should have told this person this. I should have taken that trip. I shouldn’t have worried about what someone thought and just lived how I wanted to live. I should have worn that bikini to the beach. I should have asked that guy out!
I prayed to God for the first time in my life that night. I promised if I survived this, I would live my life with intention, purpose and peace. I’d spread kindness and love wherever I went. I wouldn’t take for granted my gift of life. I wouldn’t ‘should’ my life away. I spent a week in the ICU continually reminding myself of my first prayer.
I continue to thrive. I am the CEO of Mighty Werthy. I live life with intention and check adventures off my bucket list. I love my coffee cup that my grandma gave me when I started my first job. I love the look on my friend’s face when she loves the gift I gave her. I love that feeling of my warm blanket coming straight out of the dryer. I love celebrating the life of my parents who gave me the best childhood. I love paying it forward. I love reminding others they are worth an amazing life. I love the gift of life.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amber Werth of Whiting, Indiana. You can follow her journey on Facebook, Instagram and her website, MightyWerthy.com. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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