Real Women, real stories: Carrie’s heart journey

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  (WOTV)-  Carrie Mortlock of Kalamazoo was leading a busy and perfectly normal life.  Then one day everything changed… Here is her story.

Carrie’s Story

I will begin by taking you back to year 2010. I woke up one Sunday in March and decided to stop smoking, cold turkey. In January of that same year, I started working with a personal trainer. It was my 40th birthday and decided I wanted to live a longer life. I needed to become healthy again by eating better and exercising. I signed up for my first running race and  ran my first 5k on May 5, 2012. I did everything the right way, followed the plan, and made the transformation slow and healthy.

carrie go red for women

On December 5 of 2013, I woke up with a sharp pain at the top of my quad in my left leg. Had a little hard time walking that day and thought I just pulled a muscle. I stopped running for a few weeks giving it time to heal.  Two weeks went by and it didn’t get any better. I finally gave in and made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. The MRI on January 12, 2014 showed a stress fracture. The decision was to avoid surgery and place me on crutches for a month and keep weight off the left leg and hope it heals.  After my first week of crutches, I was tired, more tired than I had ever felt before. Not like me at all. I thought I must just be coming down with the flu or something.  That is the last thing I remember…

It was the perfect storm. I look back and it’s hard to believe.

I woke up in the hospital two days later. On Saturday January 25, 2014 two blood clots traveled to both lungs and I suffered a double pulmonary embolism. Because it caused lack of oxygen to my heart, I suffered a cardiac arrest and underwent CPR for about three minutes. About three days later in the hospital surrounded by my family, I started asking more questions. Reality was I had awakened to my alarm, took a shower and was fully dressed before I collapsed to the floor.  I remember none of it.  Thankfully my husband called 911. I was finally moved out of ICU into a regular hospital room after about four days.

carrie hospital go red for women

Then, on Friday, January 31, 2014, I suffered two strokes. One affected the right side of my brain and the other the occipital lobe in the back of my brain that left me vision impaired and limited use of my left hand. My body was throwing blood clots, and we could not figure out why. A hematologist/oncologist was the one that saved me. He said the last time he saw something similar, it was cancer of the female reproductive organs. They called in an gyn/oncologist. They ran tests and the next day told me my uterus had tripled its normal size. Whether cancer or not, it had to come out and as soon as possible.

On February 14, I had my surgery, a hysterectomy. Finally good news came when they told me post surgery no cancer evident anywhere else in the body.  It was the perfect storm. I look back and it’s hard to believe.  A hip fracture…a double pulmonary embolism, a cardiac arrest, two strokes and a hysterectomy… all in 30 days. I finally made it home on Monday, February 17.

How did I get through all of this? God was not ready to take me, it was not my time.  I must have more to do here; there is a reason I am still here. The reality is I am brain damaged. You would not know by looking at me. My vision improved a little every day and I am about 80% recovered. I have two blind spots in my left field of vision. I hold onto something in my left hand, it shakes. If I spend too much time on one task, my left hand freezes up. I have a hard time processing information if there are too many things going on at one time. I sometimes forget about conversations and at times have a hard time finding a simple word.  It’s difficult to articulate too sometimes. But, I can live with all of this, it’s my new normal!

I am a miracle and Life is Why, My Husband is Why, My Family is Why!


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