In September 2007, I had just started my freshman year of college. I had gotten a job at the bookstore, and on my first day, I passed out while folding T-shirts. I had never passed out before so I panicked, called my mom, and went to a local urgent care clinic.
After running a few tests, they couldn’t find anything wrong and said I should go home and follow up with a primary care doctor if anything else happens. While waiting to check out, I passed out again. They still had no idea and encouraged me to see a PCP as soon as possible.
It was Labor Day weekend, so I decided to drive home for the holiday. It was only a three-hour drive, but by the time I got there, I had a sharp shooting pain through the back of my leg. It felt like I needed to stretch and I thought it was just from the drive.
After two days of worsening pain, I decided to go to the ER instead of trying to drive back to school. After a long wait, and a short exam by the doctor, I was told it was sciatica and prescribed hydrocodone.
By the next day, the pain in my leg had worsened, and I had developed terrible chest pain that prevented me from sleeping. We decided to try a different ER. This one took X-rays, ran tests, and again assured me it was sciatica and offered a muscle relaxing shot instead of just the hydrocodone prescription.
Discouraged, I went home and tried to rest. After another sleepless night and worsening chest pains, we returned to the ER and insisted it was definitely not sciatica. They finally took CT scans where they saw spots on my lungs and diagnosed it as pneumonia. I was sent home with medication to treat it and ordered me to rest.
Two hours later, we received a call from the hospital to return immediately. The radiologist had gotten in and reviewed the CT from the night before and realized it wasn’t pneumonia. It was actually pulmonary emboli in both lungs.
Don’t ignore worrisome symptoms even if you get checked out and get the all-clear. If the symptoms persist, get another opinion!