I am a two time blood clot survivor. My first pulmonary embolism was at 21 after endometriosis surgery and while on birth control, and my symptoms included shortness of breath and back pain making it impossible to sit back or lie back.
My second clot happened when I was 25 after a cross-country flight. I vomited when I got off my flight and that night I felt a “pop” in my leg. I felt fine for three more days before going to the emergency room. Deep vein thrombosis turned into a pulmonary embolism and I became a lifer on anticoagulants.
I would have ignored my symptoms both times but my mom, also a PE survivor, recognized them and got me to the hospital.
In terms of risk factors, I am a plus size Black woman with a family history of PE. Also, my mother and I both have the MTHFR mutation. My endometriosis surgery, birth control usage and long flight are also believed to be factors that contributed to my clots.
These experiences have made me more grateful for breath. I was already a dancer and meditated often, but now I do both with more intention.
I got through my second clot with mindfulness, deep breathing, and guided imagery. Eventually I moved onto light mindful movement — dancing through whatever parts of my body I could.
I’ve learned that life is short and even young people aren’t invincible to clots.
My advice to others is to keep finding joy in little things, keep moving, keep breathing as long as you can.