In the summer of 2019, I was on vacation with my family at Hilton Head Island. On the second night of the trip, I felt an excruciating pain in my chest while lying in bed. Although it was troubling, I decided not to wake my wife or take other action, and the pain passed after a few minutes.
Over the next day or so, I noticed I had trouble catching my breath while climbing stairs. I didn’t want to spoil the trip for my family, although I was puzzled by my sudden shortness of breath. I ignored the symptom and even bicycled for several hours with my son.
When I returned home from the trip, I visited urgent care. The on-duty physician measured my blood oxygen and said he could not rule out a blood clot. He told me to go to the hospital emergency room.
At the ER, imaging showed that I had two pulmonary emboli (PE) and needed to be admitted. During the hospital stay, an ultrasound showed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) behind my right knee, which was the source of the emboli.
I don’t have any clotting disorders, but my father also had a DVT behind his knee. I took several long car trips in the year before this happened. I’m now on blood thinners and I don’t take long car trips without decent rest breaks.
I’ve learned that ignoring unusual symptoms could have serious ramifications. My advice is to not ignore shortness of breath or any unexplained chest pain.
Living Your Best Life on Blood Thinners
Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots
How is PE Diagnosed?