During my senior year at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, I started getting sick. For about two months, my heart rate would randomly start going really high for no reason. I would wake up in the middle of the night and it would be at 160 beats per minute. I went to the doctor, and they couldn’t figure out why.
In October 2014 when I was 21, I started getting this really bad pain in my right side. I let it go for two days, and then on the third day, I went to my primary care physician. They thought it could be my gallbladder and ordered a sonogram.
That night, my pain got so bad on my right side that I couldn’t sleep. I went to the emergency room and they did an EKG and a sonogram on my gallbladder. Both of those tests came back normal. My heart rate was at a steady 140, but my oxygen was normal. They said my heart rate could be elevated from the pain. They still thought my pain was being caused by my gallbladder, so they ordered more tests to be done later in the week.
As the week went on, I progressively got sicker. One morning I woke up and could barely walk down my steps. I was exhausted, my heart rate wouldn’t go below 150, and my mom told me my face just looked gray.
She took me back to the hospital, and this time they did a CT with contrast and found I had bilateral pulmonary emboli. They said they had no idea how I survived, and why my oxygen never dipped below 98%.
As a healthy 21-year-old, I had no idea I could develop a blood clot. But it turns out I had risk factors I didn’t even realize. I was on hormonal birth control, and I was later diagnosed with prothrombin factor II. My parents and sister underwent testing for factor 2. My dad and sister tested positive.
This experience has made me more aware of the things I do with my body. I’m extra careful when I take trips. I still get short of breath when I do strenuous activity. My lungs also still experience pain if it’s really humid outside.
My advice to others is to find resources and share your story to help others who are currently going through it!
Since that day in 2014, it has been my mission to raise awareness to stop the clot!