Thank God for Women of Color | A Cup of Jo

Kim within the hospital, visited by her mates and boyfriend, in 2019.

It was Christmas morning 2019, and I wasn’t feeling effectively. I used to be spending the vacation with my mother and father in Oklahoma and had been complaining of shortness of breath and slight chest ache all week. I chalked it as much as nervousness. But by the time I received to the airport 4 days later, I knew one thing was terribly mistaken…

My shortness of breath become heaving gasps after strolling just some ft by way of the airport; I shuffled the remaining of the best way to my gate. I landed in New York that night time and instantly went to the ER. I used to be nonetheless satisfied it was simply nervousness, including it to the listing of weird signs I’d collected over time. I’d by no means stayed within the hospital for something. Even my mother and father had no hospital visits, so the concept of one thing being mistaken with my physique was unthinkable. I used to be lastly seen by somebody round 1 a.m. The nurse was stern however very caring. “Right, so we did a blood test and you’re either having a heart attack or you have blood clots.” My thoughts went clean. WHAT?? I don’t have a blood clot! I simply want a Xanax, I believed. But after one other check, it was confirmed that I had a blood clot in a single of my lungs, which defined the heavy respiratory.

The nurse began asking questions that would possibly point out the trigger:
“Have you flown on a plane recently?”
“Are you on the pill?”
“Ok. You’re gonna have to stop taking the pill, immediately. You’re really young, and since you don’t smoke, I’m going to take a wild guess and say it’s either the plane or the pill.”

I used to be in disbelief. How might this be? I wanted a CT scan to see the dimensions of the clots, and as I adopted the physician previous rows of hospital beds into the subsequent room, I doubled over once more, unable to breathe. She put her hand on my again and stated, “This is worse than I thought.” With tears rolling down my face, I lay on the onerous plastic tray as heat dye stuffed my veins, illuminating the clots in my lungs.

An hour later, the nice and cozy and cheerful CT tech walked in and introduced, “Wow, you’re an overachiever! You actually have two clots — one in each lung. We call that a bilateral pulmonary embolism.” The clots have been big and placing pressure on my coronary heart. An EKG tech would come by within the morning to take a look at the blood move. My thoughts was reeling, and as they positioned me within the crucial part of the ER with a Heparin drip, I tearfully referred to as my mother and father and texted my greatest buddy Leslie, a nurse who made positive I advocated for myself. I drifted off to sleep at round 7 a.m. This wasn’t speculated to occur.  

The subsequent 5 days have been a blur, as I used to be transferred to a different hospital, extra effectively outfitted to deal with my case. A crew of three younger medical doctors came around me each day to replace me on my progress. “And you don’t smoke?” the primary physician requested, scribbling a be aware. “Nope,” I answered for the billionth time. “But you’re so young. It’s weird that you’d have blood clots at this age. Anyway, you should be out of here by New Year’s Eve!” The smiling physician left the room, giving me a wink whereas the opposite two medical doctors fell again. “Actually…” they began as quickly as the primary physician left the room, “your numbers are still very high, and you probably won’t get out by New Year’s Eve. We want to keep you as long as we can to make sure you’re absolutely safe.”

At the time, I used to be annoyed. All I needed to do was neglect these traumatic previous couple of days and have a good time the brand new 12 months with my boyfriend. But I ought to have realized that the 2 medical doctors who stayed within the room have been searching for me. The peppy physician who’d given me a sunny prognosis was a white man, and the opposite two medical doctors have been girls of coloration. My physician and nurses on the first hospital have been Black girls and an Asian lady. They all had my again and on the time I hadn’t realized how fortunate I used to be. It made me suppose of advocate and mannequin Mama Cax, who had simply died of a pulmonary embolism, not one week earlier than I went to the ER, and Serena Williams who needed to demand — greater than as soon as — that she get a CT scan for a pulmonary embolism after nurses refused to take heed to her.

I took going to the physician and assuming whoever was assigned to me would deal with me pretty for granted.

According to a 2016 study, 50 % of medical college students and residents believed Black folks couldn’t really feel ache the identical manner white folks do, as a result of that they had thicker pores and skin or their nerves didn’t work the identical manner. Black folks even have a 30 to 60 % increased probability of creating a pulmonary embolism than white folks. I left the hospital later that week understanding that as a result of of these two medical doctors, I had been checked ten instances over earlier than I used to be cleared to go away.

Fifteen months later, I’m virtually on the opposite aspect. After a 12 months of taking blood thinners, I’ve no extra blood clots, and I’m seeing medical doctors to substantiate the trigger. I’m nonetheless coping with a couple of who wave off my considerations, and at first I believed, Well, they’re the consultants. Maybe I ought to simply take heed to them. But nobody is aware of my very own physique the best way I do, and I’ll preserve going till I discover the proper medical doctors who hear me. I always remember how fortunate I’m simply to be alive, even when coping with medical doctors who would possibly’ve believed I used to be struggling lower than I used to be or that I used to be making it up. I do it for the lengthy wholesome life I’ll have, and the lives reduce brief as a result of they have been ignored.

P.S. How I feel right now as a Black woman and becoming anti-racist.

(Photo from Kim Rhodes/Instagram.)

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