My husband and I are both ultra runners. On June 27 of this year, we were both going for an early morning training run with him starting about five minutes behind me.
I had been experiencing shortness of breath for a few weeks before this run. Little things, such as bringing groceries in from the car or climbing stairs in my home, were tedious. I could tell something was wrong since I had just completed a 69-mile trail race the month before at more than 7,000 feet of elevation. I went to urgent care, where I was diagnosed with bronchitis and given a steroid shot and Z-pack.
The morning of my run, I was finishing up my last Z-pack pill and assumed my “bronchitis” was mostly better. As soon as I headed out the door, I knew I would have to turn around. I only got about a tenth of a mile from my house before I started seeing black spots and immediately passed out.
My neighbor found me and performed CPR. Shortly after, the ambulance came and took me to the hospital. It turns out I had a massive pulmonary embolism and was in heart failure. I also hit my head pretty hard during the fall.
Clot-buster medication was administered, and about two hours later, I started breathing on my own. But I developed a severe headache, which later turned out to be a stroke (brain hemorrhage) from the clot-busting medicine. I spent nearly three weeks in the hospital, including 12 days in the ICU.
I was healthy before this happened. I’d never had any major health issues in my adult life, and then one day I was close to dying. My only risk factors were a long car ride a couple of weeks prior, and I was also taking hormonal birth control.
My advice to others is to always, always listen to your body, and if you think something is off, have it checked out. You’ll never regret listening to your body.
This experience made me realize that bad things can happen, but every day is a gift.