“Being listened to and treated properly was the difference between life and death for me,” Williams, 40, wrote. “I know those statistics would be different if the medical establishment listened to the experience of every black woman.”
Williams shared that, after a relatively easy pregnancy and a C-section forced by her daughter’s rising and falling heartbeats, she woke up after surgery with her baby in her arms. “The rest of my body was paralyzed,” she wrote.
Williams is “at high risk for blood clots,” he wrote; her revealed in 2011 who had experienced a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, when a blood clot blocks one or more arteries in the lung, as well as a hematoma. After giving birth, Williams recalled asking about a drip of heparin, a blood thinner.
“The response was, ‘Well, we really don’t know if that’s what you need right now,'” Williams wrote. “No one was really listening to what he was saying.”
Williams, who described his “excruciating pain” and persistent paralysis, said he then started coughing. The attacks eventually burst the c-section incision, requiring another surgery to re-sew the wound.
“I wasn’t coughing for nothing; She was coughing because she had an embolism, a clot in one of my arteries,” she wrote. “The doctors would also discover a hematoma, a collection of blood outside the blood vessels, in my abdomen, and then even more clots that had to be prevented from traveling to my lungs. That’s what the medical report says, anyway. For me, it was just a fog of surgeries, one after another.”
Williams said he told a nurse he needed a CT scan of his lungs and a heparin drip, which he said the nurse resisted.
“She said, ‘I think all this medicine is driving you crazy.’ I said, ‘No, I’m telling you what I need,’” she recalled. “Look, I had a blood clot in my lungs and they needed to insert a filter into my veins to break up the clot before it got to my heart.”
After four surgeries over the course of a week, Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, were able to take Olympia home.
The personal essay, adapted from Williams’ contribution to the anthology “Arrival Stories: Women share their experiences of becoming mothers”, which was published on Tuesday, is not the first time that she has opened up about her postpartum health problem. in a Cover of Vogue February 2018Williams recounted that a doctor performed an ultrasound instead of the CT scan he had requested.
“The ultrasound revealed nothing, so she was sent for a CT scan and sure enough, several small blood clots had settled in her lungs. Minutes later she was on the drip,” the Vogue story said.
“‘I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!'” the Vogue story quoted Williams as saying.
Williams said the experience changed her perspective on tennis, that 4-year-old Olympia is already practicing.
“I still want the titles, the success and the esteem, but it’s not my reason to wake up in the morning. There is more to teach you about this game than winning,” Williams wrote. “I have learned to dust myself off after defeat, to stand up for what matters at all costs, to stand up for what is fair, even when it makes me unpopular. It turned out that giving birth to my baby was a test of how loud and how often she would have to scream before I was finally heard.”
Dana Gerber can be reached at [email protected]