One day I was hanging clothes on our clothesline outside. I bent down and suddenly felt really short of breath. After that, I was fine, but then experienced it again when walking or doing anything strenuous.
Living in the South, I thought it must be seasonal allergies, but it continued to worsen. When I took a shower I would get so short of breath that I almost passed out.
I visited my primary care physician (PCP), who sent me to a pulmonologist. After some tests, no diagnosis was reached and he scheduled a visit with a cardiologist for a few weeks away.
In the meantime, I followed up with my PCP, who sent me to the ER. The ER doctor immediately assumed I was having a panic attack. They ran tests but still diagnosed me with a panic attack.
After another follow up with my PCP, she got me a closer appointment with a cardiologist. At that visit, I was given a treadmill test and struggled through it. It was decided it was not my heart.
Finally my pulmonologist scheduled a VQ scan. After the test, I was immediately put in a wheelchair to await results. The nurse brought me to a room and told me they called my pulmonologist and he was on his way.
So, two weeks after symptoms started, I was diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary emboli. I was admitted to the hospital and was treated with blood thinners.
They did an ultrasound of my legs in the hospital and found deep vein thrombosis in my left leg near my groin area. I didn’t notice any symptoms of a DVT.
Due to my age, only 48, and relatively good health, my doctor ordered genetic testing to test for blood disorders. I tested positive for factor II prothrombin gene mutation. I have been on blood thinners ever since and will be for the rest of my life.
In terms of family history, my sister was tested and she is also positive.
My advice to others is to go to a doctor right away if you feel like something is wrong. Continue going until you get answers.