LIMA — Monica knew high blood pressure could be a problem with her pregnancies. It had happened before, and she knew how to manage it. But she didn’t expect the medical ordeal that was to come her way.
“We just want to be normal. You don’t realize how fast it can be not normal,” she said.
Monica and her husband, Mark, not their real names, have found themselves struggling to pay bills and provide for their four children after Monica experienced a blood clot in her lung after giving birth to their daughter, now 4 months old.
“’You’re telling me I’m about to die, and I’ve got a 4-day-old baby at home?’” she remembers asking the nurses. “They said it was like breathing through a coffee straw.”
She learned she has a genetic clotting disorder and congestive heart failure. If her heart doesn’t improve, she will need a pacemaker.
“I just can’t win for losing. I struggle a lot because I want to go back to work,” she said. “It just stresses you out even more.”
She was set to start a job, but the considerable physical restrictions she’s under postponed working. Her teeth crumbled after the delivery, and she is waiting on her gums to heal before she can be fitted for dentures. She’s in her 30s and is in shock she needs a pill organizer for all her medications. She is very grateful for Medicaid coverage.
Her husband broke his ankle shortly after the baby was born and couldn’t work for almost two months. He’s recovered now, but they’re behind three months on rent. The landlord has threatened eviction.
The stairs of their home are a constant source of anxiety. The bathroom is upstairs. The water pill she is on leaves her using that bathroom many times a day, although the trips up and down the stairs work her heart too much. She hasn’t yet put their tree up — her late grandmother’s — because it’s in the basement, and she’s too tired physically and emotionally.
“It keeps you on edge. There’s always that ‘what if?’” she said.
The oldest boy, 13, wears size 10 shoes, size large shirts and 34-inch waist pants with a 30-inch inseam. The 7-year-old boy — who is hard on the knees of his pants — wears size 2 shoes, size 10 pants and 10/12 shirts. He prefers pants that are styled like sweatpants. The 6-year-old boy wears size 13/1 shoes, size 7 pants (he prefers jeans) and 6/8 shirts. All the boys could use winter boots, as they only have the school shoes her father bought them this year.
The baby is set on the size 12-month clothing she needs but could use Luvs diapers and wipes.
Monica and Mark could use tennis shoes. Monica wears a size 8 or 8 1/2 if the shoe runs narrow, like running shoes often do. Mark wears a size 12. His ankle swelling has gone down, and he can wear his steel-toe workboots fine.
Monica said they could use liquid laundry soap. She likes Arm & Hammer, explaining no one in her family has adverse skin reactions to it.
“I try not to think about it, you know, and I’m like, I just want to be here to raise my kids,” she said. “They need Mom. I’m just tired. … When you’re so used to doing things on your own, it’s hard to swallow your pride.”
Reach Adrienne McGee Sterrett at 567-242-0510.