Single Mom Stories: I almost died and left my kids behind

This month we celebrate the many experiences, lessons, missteps and triumphs of single mothers for Single Mom Stories September. Join us by reading, sharing, commenting and -- if you have your own story to tell -- contributing here as we strengthen the circle of support of mamas. 

Contributed by Michele Fox-Hansell

Hi my name is Michele and I'm a single mom of children, Madison, 11; and identical twin boys Jacob and Joshua, 7. Leading up to the nightmare on September 28, 2013, I was healthy and happy, working three jobs to support myself and my children. On the morning of September 28th, my parents called to wish me a happy 40th birthday. After telling my mom I wasn't feeling well, my dad was soon at my door urging me to get to the doctor. I sent my father away telling him I was fine, although I suspected I probably had pneumonia.

By 3:00 pm I called my father and said, “Dad, either get here now or I'm calling an ambulance!" By this point, my breathing and pain had gotten worse. A half hour later, I was in the emergency room and sent for tests. By 5:00 pm, I was told that I had three blood clots: one in my leg and two that had already gone through the right side of my heart and were now in my lungs. I also had pneumonia and my lungs are partially collapsed.

The doctor looked at my Dad and said, "You need to bring up Michele's kids. We are not sure if she is going to make it through the night." At that very moment my life flashed in front of my eyes. I should have been celebrating my birthday, not saying goodbye to my three babies. My dad called my mom to let her know what was going on and to bring the kids to me as soon as possible. So while Dad was on the phone the ER staff was rushing around. I sat up and calmly said, "Everyone please stop. You are not hooking me up to any machines or drugs until you get blood from me. If you are telling me I have a high possibility of dying tonight I want genetic testing done so my children know what it is." The doctor looked at me and said, “Do what she asked!"

As soon as the blood was drawn I said, "OK, let's do this!"

By 5:30 pm my beautiful babies were by my bed. I had to tell them goodbye and how much I loved them. How honored I’ve been to be there mom and I that wouldn't want any other kids. I told them that they were my special miracles. I reminded them how much I loved them and told them that if I was to become an angel tonight, I’d always be watching over them.

Their little faces looked of sheer desperation as they cried and begged me to ask God not to take their mommy away from them. I said my goodbyes and gave them dozens of kisses before they left. I also said goodbye to my parents and sister. I was then rolled up to the unit where I spent the next week. I was petrified to fall asleep because I didn't know if God was going to make me one of his angels that night.

By Sunday morning I was still alive. I did everything the doctors told me to do. The kids and my parents came to visit me. The following Friday they sent me home. Worried about money, I returned to work Monday. I worked the next three weeks straight before ending up back in the hospital with the doctors telling me I had to slow down.

Genetic testing revealed I had lupus anticoagulant factor which was caused by a miscarriage I had a year prior. But the answers were not good enough for me, so in the next five months I had 49 vials of blood taken they tested me for every genetic disorder possible and was diagnosed with three genetic blood clotting disorders: Factor V Leiden, Protein C, and Lupus Anticoagulant Disorder. Two weeks prior to finding out the results, my hematologist told me I need to lose 100 pounds as it would help lower my risk of getting another clot.

Ever since I've been home from the hospital, whenever I say goodnight to my children they ask if I'm going to wake up in the morning. My oldest asked to learn CPR in case she ever finds me unresponsive. No child should ever have to worry about this.

My doctor pulled me out of work for six months so I can focus on healing and getting healthier. I'm enjoying being home with the kids and working on myself. I've lost 48 pounds in 14 weeks and my progress is helping to put my kids at ease.

I thank God every day that he didn't take me from my kids; I still have so much more living to do.

My goal in writing this is to spread awareness. Every six minutes someone dies from a blood clot, with more deaths from this “silent killer” than from breast cancer, motor vehicle crashes, and HIV combined. Please learn the signs and symptoms: swollen calves, aches or pains in the calves, coughing, and rib cage pain – but symptoms can vary so if something doesn’t feel right, get check out.

I'm one of the lucky survivors and every day I wake up and look at life so differently now. Life is too short. Tell those you love that you love them. Don't put something off until tomorrow because you may never get the chance.