Not Knowing What Caused my PEs is Frightening and Frustrating: Kaprena’s Story

Not Knowing What Caused my PEs is Frightening and Frustrating: Kaprena’s Story

I’m 47 years old and grateful to be alive. This is because I experienced pulmonary emboli (PE) on three separate occasions. 

About six weeks after giving birth to my second son, I began to feel tired and thought I was coming down with a cold. My mother suggested that I go to the emergency room just to make sure that I didn’t have pneumonia.   

The doctor ordered an X-ray of my chest, which came back fine. At this point, I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I knew that something was not right. I asked if there were any other tests I could have. The doctor mentioned a VQ scan, but she noted that the technician would not be available for about two hours and suggested that I could come back the next day. Not wanting to waste any time, I said that I would wait for the technician. I’m glad I did — the VQ scan showed blood clots in my lungs (pulmonary emboli) and I was immediately admitted to the hospital. I was devastated.   

The second incident was five years later. I was about 10 weeks pregnant with our third son when I began to feel as if an elephant was sitting on my chest. Eventually I passed out, and thankfully my husband was able to administer CPR. This was scary and traumatic for me and my family. I spent time in the hospital not knowing if my unborn child would even survive. An IVC filter was implanted in my vein to prevent any future clots from traveling to my heart, lungs, or brain.  I also received enoxaparin injections twice a day throughout my entire pregnancy. 

I still had the IVC filter and I was taking warfarin when my third clotting experience happened eight years later. The doctors ran multiple tests to find out why I keep having pulmonary emboli, but all of the tests came back fine. I’m now taking rivaroxaban once a day for life.   

Not knowing what caused my PEs is frightening and frustrating. My advice to others is to remain proactive and listen to your body. You are your best advocate. 


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