I became committed to staying healthy in my late 40s. At 55, I was in the best shape of my life, hitting the gym three times a week.
One day after exercising, I felt a pain in my left calf, which I attributed to an overzealous workout. However, it continued through Christmas weekend. I planned to see my primary care doctor the next day, but the night of December 26, 2022, I was vacuuming when I suddenly felt severe chest pain and became short of breath and dizzy.
I tried to get to a chair and had my wife call 9-1-1. The last thing I remember was thinking I was dying. I collapsed and suffered a mild concussion and laceration on my forehead when my glasses broke.
After an ambulance ride to the ER, the staff kept asking about travel and smoking, none of which applied, but when I mentioned my calf, a light came on. After a chest CT with dye, a nurse came in, started heparin in my IV and said I had a life-threatening blood clot in my lungs, or pulmonary embolism (PE).
As it turned out, I had a massive saddle pulmonary embolism in all the lobes of my lungs. I had a thrombectomy the next day, and my clot was over a foot long. The ICU staff called me “Miracle Man” because they hadn’t seen someone with a PE that large that had made it.
It’s a struggle to get used to living with this condition, which could reoccur despite me being on an anticoagulant. Every little pain has me paranoid. I have no family history of blood clots, but I’m being tested for factor V Leiden.
This experience has changed my outlook in life. Every day is a gift. I just discovered and joined NBCA. It’s so helpful to know that I’m not alone in having the blood clot truck come out of nowhere to almost take me out.
My advice is to pay attention to your health — clots can strike with little warning or symptoms — and pray. My faith has sustained me. Truly, God is the only reason I survived.