The personal story below is intended for informational purposes only. The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) holds the rights to all content that appears on its website. The use by another organization or online group of any content on NBCA’s website, including the patient stories that appear here, does not imply that NBCA is connected to these other organizations or groups or condones or endorses their work. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about this matter.
My name is David Chadwick and I am a 27-year-old male. On January 18, 2016, I was walking to a shop that is about three minutes from my house. I typically use this time to make mobile calls, as the reception in my house is terrible. I was on the phone with my friend when she said, “What are you doing and why are you panting?” I had not really noticed until that point, but I quickly realized I was really out of breath and said, “I’m really out of breath. I have been smoking a lot recently due to exam stress at the university.”
As the week went on, I started to get breathless, taking showers and walking down the stairs to the toilet. A few days later, I was having really bad pain on my right side at the bottom of my rib, especially at night. It felt like a razor was lodged in my lung. I took an over-the-counter pain reliever, which helped and went about my regular business. The following weekend at work, I was getting breathless just talking (I work in a call center on the weekends) and everyone was concerned with how ill I looked. I promised I would go to the doctor on Monday.
Making good on my promise, I went to the doctor, who checked me over and sent me straight to A&E (the accident and emergency department in a British Hospital, or the same thing as the ED or emergency department in U.S. hospitals). I explained my symptoms and was told by hospital staff, “A PE is very unlikely at your age with no long traveling.” I think they thought I had been Googling my symptoms and self-diagnosed. Everything came back clear except my D-Dimer and a slight elevation, and an X-ray showed a slight infraction on one lung. They did a CT scan and the doctor said, “I have come to eat humble pie, you have bilateral PE with infractions on both lungs.” I had no leg swelling or pain and that is what caused the A&E department to feel PE was unlikely due to no DVT symptoms or symptoms of a blood clot in my leg. It was only because of the D-Dimer and my other symptoms that they decided to do an X-ray and a CT scan, which showed the PE.
I have been on an oral anticoagulant for about three weeks and the pain has subsided and the breathlessness has pretty much gone. My mum had a stroke at 30 years old, so they are testing my genes to see if there is an inherited blood disorder, I have to wait for most of the tests to be completed when I am off blood thinners in six months. I will see a chest doctor in two months to check up on my lungs due to the infractions.
The biggest point to my story is, if you have breathlessness and pain, don’t “leave it until Monday,” get straight to the A&E or Emergency Room. My PE was not from a DVT, but that’s all I know until further tests are carried out. What scared me most is thinking if I had I left it longer without getting medical attention, it could have killed me. On the plus side, I have given up smoking!