A medical emergency gave me new empathy at work

Health & Wellness

Posted: March 1, 2018

It all started on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. My friend Rebecca was in town and we were going to lunch in Georgetown and to shop a little bit before going over Guanella Pass. By the time we got down the street to the second store I could not breathe. Rebecca shopped and I sat down on some steps in the shop. She found me and we headed back to the car.

I still had some shortness of breath after I got home but I made it through the night. Got dressed and headed to work the next day, walking. By the time I got there, I could not breathe. They rushed me to the hospital. I just wanted to breathe…oxygen, please!

I don’t remember the last time I saw everyone moving so fast. Oxygen, Blood draw, Chest x-ray and then CT scan. Results not good. It was determined that I had two life-threatening sub-massive blood clots, one in each lung. I was sent to the ICU to be monitored. Now that I can breathe with the oxygen I did not feel sick.

Discharged on Friday evening with oxygen. I will be on oxygen for a couple of months. It was all new to me. This is a new experience in itself. There are so many things I didn’t know about wearing oxygen. It dries my nose like crazy. And my big problem is that I forget to put it back on after I blow my nose. That causes the oxygen level to drop really fast. I think my problem is that when I put my reading glasses on there is something on my cheeks so I forget the tubes. And the tubing keeps getting caught in my recliner! Lots and lots of tubing for the little apartment.

I have to rest a lot, no choice. And I have to be extremely careful not to trip and fall. Sometimes it falls off when I’m sleeping and I wake up and I don’t have the oxygen on. Another thing I never realized is that you have to take a shower with your oxygen on, and quite frankly that’s very cumbersome. It seems like I am learning to breathe all over again. When I eat, my oxygen level goes down. When I exert myself in any way I start breathing through my mouth and my oxygen level goes down and I get short of breath. I catch myself breathing through my mouth at other times while I am on this oxygen. I really notice it now. I wonder if I have always done that.

Breathing is normal – I have never had to think about it. While I was sitting in the ER, my question to the doctor was, “Can I got back to work on Friday?” I like my job, what can I say! I want to use this experience during my work, to help my team know what it’s really like to need oxygen. I know so much that I did not know before, and it has given me a new perspective on how we can help our residents.


Since Katherine wrote about her challenging experience, she has experienced a full recovery.

If you’d like to explore the warm community at Dayspring Villa, give us a call at: 303-416-2807. We’d be happy to show you around – and introduce you to some of our great residents.

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