My name is Chelsey. I am 31 and have no prior health issues. On October 26, 2022, I went downstairs to my basement and felt a heaviness in my chest. I reached the bottom step and I felt like I had just run a marathon. I tried to sit down, but the next thing I knew, I had blacked out and woke up on my basement floor.
I called for my family members, who were all upstairs. I realized with growing panic that something felt very wrong, and I was no longer in harmony with my body. As my dad drove me to the emergency room, I was going in and out of consciousness. Every breath felt like it was going to be my last. I was transferred to ICU, and testing revealed I had suffered a massive bilateral pulmonary embolism with heart and respiratory failure.
They intubated me and used a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to bust up the clots in my lungs. Meanwhile, due to the damage to my heart, doctors were preparing for surgery if the tPA didn’t help. My parents were informed that my death was a high possibility. Fortunately, with time, the tPA had helped break up the clots, and I was placed on a constant flow of Heparin.
On a random Wednesday, my life had changed in a frightening and devastating way, but also in a miraculous one. The love I felt from my family, friends, church members, and their prayers and words of encouragement filled me with hope. My teams of doctors made careful and critical decisions.
I may never know what triggered the event specifically. I had no symptoms of anything wrong prior to that day. I was on a low dosage of estrogen for severe monthly cramps, and I have a remote desk job, but due to the severity of my clots, doctors are unsure these are direct causes. Testing also did not reveal I had any of the protein or factor mutations. I have no answers yet.
I want to use this opportunity to help spread awareness and education on clotting issues, especially the devastation that can occur with a pulmonary embolism. It can happen to anyone, at any time, at any age.
This experience has completely changed the way I regard my health. I am more conscientious and aware of my body’s needs. Reading stories from others on NBCA’s site has helped me understand more about my experience, and the resources here are wonderful.
Make sure to check in with your body often. Understand lifestyle risks and how they contribute to your health. Ask your doctors and advocate for your health. If something feels wrong or unusual, get it checked right away.