November 2 is a day that will forever haunt me. The previous day I got up from my work desk and was extremely lightheaded. It was almost as if I couldn’t walk, I was so dizzy. I grabbed a snack thinking maybe my blood sugar was low, but it didn’t help. I chalked it up to being overtired since I had a six-month-old and two-year-old at home who both weren’t sleeping well. The next day we were at the grocery store when our daughter asked me to pick her up. As soon as I lifted her the exact same feeling came back. I told my husband we needed to leave immediately.
I then developed an extremely sharp pain in my abdomen. I went home and laid down thinking maybe I picked up some bug from the kids and I was just overtired. After a few hours I still was feeling lousy and my heart was racing. My husband had to practically beg me to go to the ER, even though I kept saying “I’m fine, I’m fine.” I’m so lucky I listened. I cannot stress enough the importance of going to the doctor and not delaying when you feel “off.”
I was immediately admitted to the hospital as the doctors tried to figure out what was going on. My resting heart rate was over 130 bpm and the abdomen pain kept getting worse. After an elevated D-dimer test, my CT scan showed I had multiple bilateral blood clots in my lungs. At the time I was 32 years old and had no typical risks associated with blood clots. I also didn’t have the common symptoms of pulmonary embolisms (PE). The doctor told us that 1 in 3 patients with untreated PEs will drop dead. My emotions were all over the place as I hysterically cried. I was young, healthy, exercised, and took care of myself. I kept thinking if I didn’t go to the hospital I could have died, and my young kids wouldn’t remember their mother. That has taken an emotional toll, and I’m forever grateful I went to the hospital when I did.
After numerous tests I was told we will never have a reason for the blood clots, and I will most likely be on blood thinners the rest of my life. As I adjust to my “new normal” I constantly think of how fortunate I am to not be one of those deadly statistics. Mothers can sometimes put everyone else’s needs above our own. I didn’t realize how tired and sick I was actually feeling. I really want to reiterate the importance of taking care of yourself by getting checked out as soon as you aren’t feeling well. Don’t put it off, which can be easy to do.
I’m very grateful to the National Blood Clot Alliance for giving me the courage to share my story, as this road to recovery hasn’t been easy.