My Symptoms Weren’t the Typical Ones: Johanna’s Story

My Symptoms Weren’t the Typical Ones: Johanna’s Story

I am 48, a gardener, and a mum to two teenage sons, I do Pilates and had just completed Couch to 5k training. I was the fittest I’ve ever been.

For a week or so, I experienced an immobilizing pain in my lower right back. I was breathless on the stairs and could only do light chores. By early evening, my torso ached, felt bruised and my chest burned.

At the hospital, I was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis and multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli. Whilst scanning me, it was also discovered that I also have a swollen aorta, which is an unrelated condition, so I had to be extremely careful whilst waiting on referrals. My heart raced, I had palpitations, and was short of breath.

The pain was excruciating at times, but my chest did not hurt. It was primarily my lower right lumbar, which isn’t always listed as a warning for PE.

This isn’t my first experience with blood clots. In my 20s, I had a DVT whilst on the pill, plus I have a family history of clots. My sisters and father have had them, and my mother has had strokes.

Luckily I have incredible family and friends who have been by my side to care for me because for the first couple of weeks, I couldn’t get downstairs to make food or even a drink.

I will take apixaban for life due to my history. I hope to make a full recovery, but only time will tell. I cannot imagine doing physical work for eight-hour days again but hope to still be working in horticulture.

We ask our bodies to do so much and forget to rest and recover. Now I have no choice but to do just that!

My advice is to always seek medical help if you feel unwell. Because of my profession, I put my back pain down to muscle strains and put up with it when really my body was shouting at me to listen. I am listening now!


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