Blood clots and bruises – a plea to FitBit

Dearest FitBit overlords,

Please allow me to begin by congratulating you all on your reputation as a fine purveyor of well-being tracking devices and for excellent customer service, preemptively.

Next I would like to regale you with an X-factor worthy sob story. Seriously. It’s quite bad. I am the new mother to a 3 week old son, Rousseau (yes, we are nothing if not pretentious, but don’t let anyone tell you it was a ‘Lost’ character that inspired his name first, rather than the eminent French philosopher we tell people he’s named for).

I am also the mother of Sienna, aged 2. Her middle names are for Ada Lovelace (Ada Lacie), widely accepted as one of the first computer programmers and a legend amongst women in STEM. Sienna was born on 11 Feb 2016, the first UNESCO International Day of Women and Girls in Science day and also the day gravitational waves were discovered.

Stephen Hawking predicted gravitational waves and he died one week before Rousseau was born so R’s second middle name is Hawk. His first middle name is Arion, after the legendary horse, son of Gaius and Poseidon, kidnapped by pirates and rescued by dolphins. Our children best live up to expectations, eh?

So, back to the sob story. At 35 weeks of pregnancy (late February) I was diagnosed with extensive, bilateral Pulmonary Emboli. That’s blood clots in both lungs. Loads of ‘em. Absolutely riddled, I tell ya.

This was not good news. My son was also breech and was not likely to turn. We focused on recovery from the lung condition, once it was diagnosed (after dabbling, Gregory House style, with two other differential diagnoses of mild asthma suddenly ramping up and an infection, treated with heavy doses of antibiotics). I languished in Tunbridge Wells hospital for 8 days, on and off oxygen. Let’s just say my vital signs were what you’d worry about if you were playing The Sims.

My mood was only improved here and there by the appearance of an attractive male midwife from Spain, who I bonded with over tales of confusion between chorizo and churros on a family holiday. Yes, I ate all that spicy sausage whilst my family dined on beautiful ice cream from Andorra. I had to save my 17 year old, A-Level-Spanish-learning face, you know.

Oh and my husband. Yeah. He was there too through the whole thing. Of course. He would be. Eight days though. On oxygen. You hear the Snow Patrol yet? I’m still thinking X-Factor. Boy, I hope you’ve watched it… “let’s waste time… chasing cars”. Or maybe that one about wires? That would be better. Or the Ed Sheeran one. I can’t think what it is. Ah well. I’m sure you can imagine the soundtrack to this email. I don’t know how to embed music into an email…


When I received my diagnosis of pulmonary emboli, I was struck by how this had happened. I will be frank with you, I’m a big woman. I was bigger this pregnancy than with my first, despite vowing I would not be. My caesarian was my 7th operation and, despite dabbling with running at a Race for Life back in around 2013 or 2014 and purchasing some of your fantastic scales, I had not managed to recover from the 6th operation that I had not long after meeting the man I eventually fell in love with and made my husband in June 2015. They did say, carefully, that a high BMI was a risk factor. I take this seriously. Probably the only thing I have, so far.

I have struggled with my weight for over half my life now – sweets and chocolate being my friends in a world seemingly set on besetting me with medical issues. I’m not a well woman and never really have been. Most people who have had as many operations as me – that’s for the same or similar conditions. Not me. I just wasn’t put together right. But this time I’ve had to love and breastfeed the skin and whatnot that’s been extracted. And this is the worst operation yet. Seriously, a 10 on the pain scale.

So, where does this leave me and my relationship with FitBit? Once I was released from critical care for the P.E. I decided that I would make a personal commitment. Aside from exclusively breastfeeding my son, which I was advised to do specifically by my consultants (both haematology and obstetric), due to the health benefits specifically for me and my conditions, I would focus once again on healthy coping mechanisms for stress. I plugged in my FitBit once again (the second, as the first was lost to a washing machine disaster).

I also fired up the scales and decided that this time… this time I would make it work. The weight loss I mean. Not the Aria scales. They work well except I haven’t hooked them up to my new wifi yet. Lazy!

Caesarian or no (at that point it was still unknown how I would birth my son, as we were investigating turning him), my commitment was that I would walk at least once around Bearsted Green, where I live, with my small dog, Massimo. Daily. His name means ‘the greatest’ in Italian and he’s named for the dishy and intelligent Massimo Polidoro; psychologist, TV personality and executive director of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudoscience (CICAP). I saw him speak at QEDcon in Manchester in 2012.

Anyway, I digress once again. Post-cesarean I’m quite.. How should I best put this? Stressed. A little understatement there. So I’m struggling with sleep and displacement activity of controlling my environment at all hours of the day seems the best idea. I’m sure you’ll be able to see from the stats I have got. I pretty much don’t sleep. Ever. There’s a lot of awake time there.

Exclusively breastfeeding my son, as was my original intention, regardless of medical advice, has me up at all hours anyway and is already having a significant weight loss effect. So did pregnancy. I wouldn’t recommend the ‘pregnancy and PTSD’ diet, but it’s certainly effective.

So here we come to the point of this overly lengthy waffle. I’ve lost the ***ing thing. On Sunday. I haven’t a clue where it is and I think it’s gone forever. I visited two friends’ houses in Littlehampton and my daughter also injured her thumb and was rushed to A&E by my husband and our friend. Losing my FitBit was the least of my worries. I confess to not being as distraught by it, at the time, as you might expect from a customer. I think because it was connected to my bra (Fitbit One), I might have flicked it off when breastfeeding in a hurry – perhaps even in the outside world rather than in someone’s house, as both households have been searched – alas, to no avail.

But now, 4 days on, after last night’s sad loss of a pair of new, favourite glasses from Glasses Direct – sad victims of my husband’s (lovely) derriere, I have succumbed to the sadness of losing things I (a) spent a lot of money on and (b) really bloody like. Sad. Have you picked up on how sad I am?

Especially since I’m a stay at home mum who does very little freelance work and is now having to spend what she that does have on hired domestic help (can you hear the violin strings yet?).

So, I posted on Facebook. As you do. And I was told to contact you as you may take pity on me. So here’s the X Factor bit. It would make my life if you could replace my FitBit and help me beat these stress demons with exercise and weight loss. And I reckon I could probably spin this a bit for you too. I’m in marketing and PR you see, and I plan to write my memoirs on a blog soon. Still brainstorming ideas, but I’m thinking of calling it along the lines of bruises and clots. Something I have both of, in spades!

If you visit you’ll see I’m not all that bad at social media either as I’ve been running a local campaign. So maybe I could write about how epic FitBit are? Am I being cheeky yet? Off-puttingly so? Or just the right amount?

Ah well, it was worth a go. I’ll probably cut and paste this to Glasses Direct too. Not sure exactly how I can spin the whole ‘I really need replacement designer glasses to be able to change/save my life’, but I can give it a go, eh?

Lots of love FitBit and, if nothing else, hope I’ve given one of your customer service people a good break from any drudgery. Not that I expect there is any at a company of your class and calibre… (ok, I’ll stop now).

Lots of love,

Tannice Hemming x