-Story by Tara Ellis, Staff Writer
When Kimberly Smith woke up on March 2nd, 2017, she knew that something wasn’t right. Her chest hurt. It was hard to catch her breath, and her arms felt heavy. But she didn’t have time to be sick. She had just had a baby by C-section on February 6th, and as a single mother of three boys, she decided to just ‘shake it off’.
However, as the day wore on, her symptoms only got worse. By the time her nine year old son, Camdyn, got home from school, she was clasping at her chest. It felt like she was being stabbed each time she took a breath. Camdyn was concerned. Sitting next to his mom on the couch, he offered to take his baby brother. Kimberly reassured Camdyn that she just needed to rest. That she could put the baby down to sleep and take a nap.
Camdyn with baby Dylan
Camdyn didn’t think that was a good idea. Now this is where the story turns into one of heroism. Because most nine year olds would have just shrugged, and figured their mom knew best. But instead, Camdyn gave her a very convincing argument.
“Mom,” he implored. “My health teacher said if someone grabs their chest like that, I should call 911. I’m going to get my shoes on. We need to get to a hospital.” With that, her middle child that normally fought getting ready to leave the house, actually went and put his shoes on.
Moved by her son’s pleas, Kimberly didn’t take a nap. Instead, she called her doctor’s office to make an appointment, thinking she might have pneumonia. However, when they heard what her symptoms were, they decided to call an ambulance.
Camdyn went with his mom in the ambulance, charming the paramedics with both his interest in the apparatus, as well as the wise advice he gave his mom. Kimberly was thankful for the kind nature of the medics, and how they put her son at ease during a very scary time.
Once at Skagit Valley Hospital, it didn’t take long for a diagnosis: bilateral pulmonary embolisms. Kimberly’s lungs were full of blood clots. A blood test revealed that she had a genetic pre-disposition, and the recent C-section put her at an increased risk. The doctor was blunt; if she had taken that planned nap, there was a good chance she would have never awakened from it.
“I feel like he’s my son, but he’s also my hero,” Kimberly now says of her son, Camdyn. “I can’t even imagine if he hadn’t said what he did. What would have happened. I want to bring awareness about blood clots. I’m thirty-two, and I didn’t even know what a pulmonary embolism was.”
While spending seven days in the hospital, Kimberly had plenty of time to study up on blood clots, and discovered that March is Blood Clot Awareness month. According to the National Blood Clot Alliance, a blood clot is diagnosed once every minute, and someone dies from a blood clot every six minutes.
Kimberly with Dylan while recovering in the hospital
Some of the signs and symptoms of a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism) are:
– Sudden shortness of breath
– Chest pain – sharp, stabbing, worsens with breathing
– Rapid heart rate
– Unexplained cough; sometimes with bloody mucus
Camdyn doesn’t think he’s a hero, but sometimes, a hero is simply defined by being the one person to speak up. If he hadn’t, the story might not have such a happy ending. Kimberly has a long road to recovery, but she’s thankful to still be there for her kids. It will take three to six months for the blood clots to be completely resolved, and up to two years to heal. Meanwhile, Camdyn and her oldest son, Bryson, are going out of their way to help their mom. Skagit Breaking would like to recognize Camdyn’s heroic actions that day, and help Kimberly with her desire to spread awareness.
Big brothers, Camdyn and Bryson, helping to care for their little brother.
If you would like more information about blood clots, or Blood Clot Awareness Month, please follow this link: https://www.stoptheclot.org/blood-clot-awareness-month-2017.htm
A GO FUND ME account has been set up for the family, if you would like to help.
Tara Ellis is a staff writer for Skagit Breaking, as well as a local author. You can find all of her novels on her Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Tara-Ellis/e/B00IVF1JQK