Being Diagnosed with a PE was a Traumatic Experience: Lauren’s Story

Being Diagnosed with a PE was a Traumatic Experience: Lauren’s Story

In early April 2023, I underwent a complete hysterectomy. My recovery was complicated by uncontrolled pain and urinary retention, which required a Foley catheter for a week.

I then started experiencing a UTI, which required hospitalization. I was finally improving by the end of April, but on May 5, 2023, I suddenly started to experience severe right-sided pain that wrapped around my back. My chest also hurt anytime I took a deep breath and had tachycardia (rapid heart rate).

I tried using a heating pad, thinking I pulled a muscle. However, the pain kept getting worse to the point that I was screaming. After several hours in excruciating pain, I decided to go to the ER. A CT scan of my abdomen showed renal papillary necrosis and was told this is what was causing my pain.

I got admitted to the hospital and couldn’t move from my left side without screaming. I told the doctor that I was scared for my life and was repeatedly told that I was just anxious. There was one nurse who kept asking if I needed medication for anxiety and ignored my actual symptoms. I felt like no one was listening to me or my concerns.

On May 7, I told the doctor that I was worried that I may have a PE due to being less mobile with my recent surgery. He told me that I was too young (I’m 35) and he was not concerned about that, but would order a D-Dimer and Dopplers. The Dopplers were normal but my D-Dimer was high.

On May 8, I expressed to my doctor about my D-Dimer being elevated. He ordered a CT of my chest, which showed bilateral PEs with right lung infarct (the cause of my back pain). I was then started on enoxaparin sodium and sent home four days later on apixaban.

Being diagnosed with a PE was a traumatic experience for me and caused a lot of health anxiety. I had to overcome a lot of anger with the way I was ignored for three days in pain. However, with time, that anxiety has decreased significantly. I am glad that I chose to advocate for my health. Otherwise, I may have not been here today to tell my story.


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