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Before and... After -Part I

A pic of me taken on August 14, 2016

I lived 40 years, 8 months, and 5 days on this planet. I spent nearly every one of those years thinking about the future. When I was a little girl, I'd wonder things like:

  • What will I be when I grow up?

  • Where will I live?

  • Will I get married? And if, so, do I know him already?

  • Will I have kids?

I also spent a lot of those 40 years, 8 months and 5 days trying to control a lot of the people and situations in my life. I felt like I had to be responsible for everyone and everything. Losing control was just not something that Krissa did.

That is until...I completely lost it.

On August 16, 2016, my day started out like any other Tuesday. I suspected that I was coming down with a cold or having an allergic reaction to something- over the weekend I had felt a little short of breath, but that morning I felt a little better. Not 100%, but nothing I was overly concerned about.

My schedule that day was busy. I had some important meetings in the morning and then a bunch of projects I needed to make progress on. The morning flew by. I ate my lunch quickly. Sent a quick text to my best friend about our upcoming vacation.


When I opened my eyes, I was flat on my back on the floor of my office. My forehead, right over my left eyebrow, was throbbing. "I must have hit my head", I thought to myself. In a split second, I also realized that I was having a harder time breathing and I must have passed out, hitting my head on my desk on the way down.

I made my way onto my knees, grabbed the telephone and called a co-worker for help. I'm fortunate that I work in a research building and on Tuesdays, there just so happen to be a lot of physicians working. I truthfully don't remember much from this point. I can recall voices, people asking me questions. At one point someone was yelling at the 9-1-1 operator because the ambulance wasn't coming fast enough.

Things seemed a little fuzzy when I opened my eyes again. I saw what I thought was a shower curtain and I heard voices- my husband, my dad- what the heck was he doing in this place with the weird shower curtain? I motioned for everyone to leave me alone (they were so flipping loud) and I guess they did.I remember feeling things being removed from my throat and gagging- what in the hell is going on, I thought.


The next time I opened my eyes I was surrounded by my friends and family. It was then that I ascertained that I was in the hospital. Me, the person who had never broken a bone in her life, and only was hospitalized for the births of my babies, was in the hospital?

My family looked a mess. - tired, maybe a little disheveled. They also looked relieved. I was still clueless.

I learned that I was in the cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I had suffered a massive pulmonary embolism - actually I had multiple blood clots in both of my lungs. I arrived at the Emergency Room and was talking (I remember none of this). I had told the ER staff about my allergy to CAT Scan dye and so they were waiting to pre-medicate me when I went into cardiac arrest. CPR was performed.

I had to have a potent and risky clot busting drug administered. My lungs just couldn't function properly so I had been intubated and placed on a ventilator. Even at that, my lungs were struggling, so I was put on a heart/lung bypass machine (a method called ECMO that provides oxygen to the heart and lungs when your body is unable to do it).

I was trying to absorb what everyone was telling me, but the truth is, that I suspected that I was dreaming and eventually I would wake up. At some point, I must have said something about what I did remember from earlier that day and that's when someone said, "It's Thursday."


I had been sedated, intubated and placed on a ventilator since Tuesday. The ECMO procedure happened Tuesday evening. On Thursday morning, after the doctors were convinced that my lungs and heart were improving, I went into surgery to remove the ECMO and repair the artery that the cannula had been inserted into. After that, they began to decrease my sedation, to take me off of the ventilator and remove my breathing tube (ahh, that explains the gagging I remembered).

I spent a total of 1 more night in the ICU and an additional 4 nights in a general medical unit. Over those days, I had many tubes and wires removed. I had blood removed from my central line, countless times. I had IV bags of my blood thinner, heparin, switched out. I had an ultrasound of my legs to assess if I had Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)- which unfortunately I did. I heard countless times about how serious things were and how lucky I was to be alive. I had a visit from physical therapy to ensure that I could walk up and down stairs because due to the surgery on my leg, bearing weight was a bit problematic. Occupational therapy visited too, to ensure, I could do basic things, like brush my teeth, get dressed and put my socks and shoes on by myself.

I was bruised from head to toe- a side effect of the blood thinners. I had also apparently been restrained and I had a particularly lovely bruise on my left arm that outlined the restraints just perfectly. I had a drainage tube that was inserted in an incision in my groin and had this ball of fluid connected that would dangle around as I attempted to walk.

I also had plenty of visitors, phone calls, texts and Facebook messages. Rarely, did I feel alone or have the time to process what had happened. So when on Tuesday, August 23rd they told me it was time me to go home, I was panicked... I wasn't really ready was I? Everyone had told me that I was so lucky to still be here. Didn't I need to stay in the hospital where they could monitor me? What was life going to look like after this?...

Discharge day
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