My inspiration to keep fighting

Stephanie Calder and her son Cole.
Stephanie Calder and her son Cole.

A SINGLE mum who was diagnosed with a potentially deadly medical condition has told how her children inspired her to keep fighting.

Stephanie Calder was rushed to hospital on Mother’s Day with what she thought was a chronic chest infection.

Little did she know that a blood clot in her lung was threatening to kill her.

The 40-year-old mother-of-four had been feeling unwell for a few days but ignored the breathlessness putting it down to weight gain.

The symptoms continued to get worse, but Stephanie, of St Michael’s Square, Alnwick thought she would wait to see her doctor not wanting to cause concern to her three sons - Darren, 19, Jake, 15 and Cole, 2.

“It was the Saturday before I felt absolutely rotten,” she said.

“The shortness of breath and chest pains were awful but I just thought I was coming down with a chest infection. I wanted to get Mother’s Day out of the way and then I was going to see my doctor on the Monday.

“I’m a single mum with three boys. I just had to deal with it and get on, I didn’t have time to be ill.

“But on the Sunday morning (Mother’s Day) I got breakfast in bed and I felt like I was having a panic attack.

“I spent most of the day resting and managed to make a full Sunday lunch for the boys.

“I got Cole off to bed at about 9pm but by then I was on my hands and knees screaming for an ambulance.

“I thought I was having a heart attack.”

Stephanie was rushed to Wansbeck General Hospital and went through a series of tests.

“The last thing they thought it could be was a blood clot,” she said.

“But then they found that I had a large clot in my lung which was stopping it from working.

“They don’t know why I have got it. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I haven’t been on a long haul flight, there is just no reason for me to get it.

“I thought I was going to die.

“I’ve gone from being completely fit and able to do everything to being able to do absolutely nothing. I can’t even lift Cole out of the bath.” Stephanie, who was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, was in hospital for a week, during which time her 20-year-old daughter Becca, who is serving at RAF Leeming, took compassionate leave to look after her brothers and the house.

Stephanie added: “I sort of blagged my way out of hospital. I had to, Becca had to go back to work, my mum worked 12-hour shifts in Hartlepool. I had to be there for the boys.

“They are enough to keep me fighting this.

“Once I was out of hospital I had to go to the doctors every other day to have bloods done to find out what level of Wafarin I need to save my life.

“For a few days I still felt really, really ill. It is still quite worrying. I don’t know if I will get another clot.

“It is scary for the boys as well as they thought they had lost their mum.

“But they have been amazing.”

Stephanie, who worked full-time for Ladybird Care, has been told not to work for six months and not to lift or stretch or do any strenuous activity so that the drugs can break down the clot and it is not dislodged.

The family has received a lot of support from friends and now Stephanie wants to set up a support group for people affected by pulmonary embolisms. Anyone interested in helping Stephanie can contact her on 07922955281.