My life changed drastically on November 15, 2012. I was diagnosed with an Acute Pulmonary Embolism (blood clot in the lung) in my right lung.
I remember the day before. I was walking from my college class to my car and running out of breath. This was unusual for me because I was always out running and exercising and I was healthy.
The next day I remember pain: when I would sit there was the pain; when I would get up there was that pain; and later that night when I was laying down, this huge amount of overwhelming pain just shot right through me, I couldn’t breathe or sit or lay down. I was crying because I was in so much pain.
I ran to the living room in tears. That’s when my parents made me get my coat on and get in the car. My mom took me to the ER (Emergency Room) – my first time in a hospital because I was such a healthy person. We thought I might have appendicitis.
I remember having a chest X-ray and tons of blood work. Then the Dr came back saying he saw something on the chest X-ray and wanted to look into it more, so he sent me to get a CT scan. They then rolled me back to my room, at about 12:30 A.M. I remember the nurses and doctors running into my room saying “She has a pulmonary embolism (PE) in her lungs and we need to admit you and get you started on blood thinners this moment.” They turned to my mom and said if I hadn’t of came in that night I would have been dead.
For a 20 year old this was a lot of news to take in, I was crying nonstop. The hospital stay was not fun for me, I was in SO much pain, couldn’t walk, couldn’t shower, and couldn’t eat. I had so much anxiety they actually had to inject Ativan (an anti-anxiety medication) into my IV. The nurses kept collapsing all my veins in blood draws and the anxiety from this pain made me throw up. When I got home I still couldn’t do much, so my mom had to help me get dressed, take a shower, and help me eat.
I don’t know why I got this blood clot.
No one in my family has ever had a PE/ DVT. They tested me for every single genetic test and they all came back normal. I don’t smoke, I am not on birth control, and I did not travel long distances. I was very active. I didn’t have a sore arm or leg.
This illness had changed me in a positive way, I am now stronger as ever and I got over my fear of hospitals and doctor offices. It helped me chose my career path; I’m now going into nursing because of this life changing event.
I am truly blessed to have gone through such a traumatic event at such a young age. I thank God for the experience. I definitely don’t take anything for granted ever since having been diagnosed with a PE. I’m here for a reason and I plan on seeing the reason.
My advice to others is to not look on the negative. Yes, you may be on thinners for the rest of your life, or you may not have your lung function back to normal, but you are here and you are a SURVIVOR. The Lord didn’t let you die for a reason; He has plans for you. DO NOT GIVE UP! It may look like a horrible climb now but trust me it gets better! It’s been a little over a year since I had mine, and I still don’t have all lung function back but I stay positive.
Take Home Messages
- PEs can happen to healthy, young people.
- When you have serious pain and difficulty breathing, get to an emergency room immediately.
- Symptoms of PE may make people think they have another condition, like in this situation, appendicitis.
- A PE is a life threatening emergency.
- Sometime PEs happen and we can’t explain why.
- PEs can be a life changing experience.
- Spirituality helps some people get through the trauma of experiencing a life-threatening PE.