As any teenager does, I struggled with the insecurities of acne. After exhausting many acne clearing options, I decided to see my doctor about it. When I went to see my doctor, I brought up the fact that I knew other girls who were on birth control for their acne and I wanted to try the same thing. My doctor put me on estrogen-based birth control in February 2014.
Two months after I started taking the pills, I began to not feel very well. I was sitting down with my mom and my sister one Sunday afternoon, and they noticed my breathing was very loud. My sister suggested that I go to urgent care because it didn’t sound right.
I arrived at urgent care and the nurse said my lungs sounded clear. The nurse asked me if I was a smoker or an athlete, and I told her I was neither. She told me that it could possibly be a pulmonary embolism or blood clot in my lung. I had no clue what a pulmonary embolism was. Next, the urgent care sent me to get an EKG and my heart was beating faster than normal. The nurse told me it was best I go to the hospital as soon as I could, but of course, with me being stubborn and afraid, I chose not to go. Instead, I went home and called my doctor the next day to get an appointment.
At the appointment, my doctor drew my blood and said it sounded like I was anemic so I went home and rested. The next day, I got a text from my mom saying I needed to get a CT Scan done immediately. I went to the doctor’s office to get the scan done and waited for my results in the waiting room. Before I could get my results, my mom got a call from my doctor saying to come upstairs from the radiology department to the office because it was important.
When I got upstairs, my doctor was standing by the door waiting for me. We went into a room and she closed the door behind her. She told me that my CT Scan showed that I had a saddle pulmonary embolism and I needed to get to the emergency room immediately. I wasn’t allowed to pack my stuff from home. I went to the hospital straight from the doctor’s office.
When I arrived at the hospital, they started intravenous administration of a blood thinning medication and also hooked me up to a heart monitor. I was in the hospital for six days until my INR levels were therapeutic. I was on warfarin for six months until the blood clots dissolved. I had a Factor V Leiden test performed after I was no longer taking blood thinners and it came back negative.
I have no genetic blood disorders, but my body could not handle the level of estrogen in the birth control pills I was taking. My clot changed my life. Now, I live life everyday thankful to be alive. I take nothing and no one for granted. By the grace of God, I am not on any blood thinners and I have no permanent lung damage. My symptoms were not very clear, but I now try to educate other people so they know the signs of blood clots.
My advice to other people who have survived a blood clot or who currently have one is: Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out by a medical professional, no matter how silly you may feel, because it could save your life. I’m proud to be a DVT/PE survivor and without the grace of God and my family, I wouldn’t have made it through.