Today as I watched the pollen fall like rain, it reminded me that my first spring in DC I almost died. My life was spared and, in a way, Desmond's was as well.
One morning in the spring of 2003 I woke up feeling terrible. Since I couldn't pinpoint the source of the lousy feeling, I chalked it up to silliness and went to work. Halfway through the day I couldn't walk 10 yards without gasping for breath. "Shortness of breath" as a symptom of illness always puzzled me until I experienced it. I coughed up a bit of blood. I felt weak. Yet because none of my symptoms fit any illness known to me, I ignored it.
I spent the weekend taking it easy. As I laid on the couch, I would notice my heart beating erratically. Yet I ignored it.
Three days later, I went to the doctor who said I probably had exercise induced asthma. To be on the safe side, he referred me to a pulmonary specialist. Perturbed that I might have asthma, I waited three weeks to see the specialist. The only reason I finally went is because every time I tried to run, I would wildly gasp for breath.
I distinctly remember trying to jog along the George Washington Parkway one day after work. Trees and flowers were blooming in full force, like they have been this week. Pollen hung thickly in the air; everywhere you went there was a sticky sweet smell. As I tried to jog along the river, I gasped for breath. A man older than dirt passed me....he was walking. I berated myself for "being out of shape." I thought, "Come on - you're a Knight; you're tough." (It took a year or so of being married before I stopped using my maiden name when internally chastising myself.)
When I eventually saw the specialist, he was concerned about the abrupt onset of shortness of breath and sent me over to the hospital for further tests. I assumed he was over reacting. After all, my symptoms had mostly subsided. I was young. Nothing could be so serious that I would need to visit a hospital. All I could think about was that I needed to get back to work.
Dutifully, I went to the hospital. After an array of tests, the doctor told me they were admitting me immediately. I had multiple pulmonary embolisms, meaning several blood clots that had moved from my legs into my lungs. Serious stuff.
As the nurses and doctors heard my story, they were amazed at my stupidity for waiting three weeks to be seen by a doctor. Of course they were more diplomatic, but that was the general gist of things.
As it turns out, I have a genetic mutation that makes me prone to blood clots under certain conditions - particularly when taking birth control pills or being pregnant. Women with this condition who become pregnant often have repeat miscarriages before the problem is diagnosed. Because I knew to get tested, I avoided that painful path.
Trials are a (inevitable?) part of life, but it's easy to resent them. Sometimes those trials bring joys we never would have foreseen. Because of my sickness six years ago, I didn't have to run the risk of loosing Desmond.
So now when the height of spring hits DC, I remember stubbornly jogging when my life was in danger. I praise God I was spared and rejoice in the wonderful blessings that resulted from that trial.