My PE Triggered a Seismic Shift in My Lifestyle: Wendy’s Story

My PE Triggered a Seismic Shift in My Lifestyle: Wendy’s Story

In Paris, during my second night, searing pain tore through my right lung. I hurried to the hospital and straight into the ICU. Reality hit hard.

Blood clots besieged my lungs, diagnosed as a pulmonary embolism (PE), stemming from a larger clot in my left calf—deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The cause? Not a mere muscle strain as previously diagnosed before my trip, but an undetected condition, factor V Leiden, and a recent trial of a birth control pill to alleviate heavy menstruation, exacerbated by my ignorance of its symptoms, created “the perfect storm.” I was a mom of two young children and just 39.

Weeks in the hospital followed, where I was tethered to machines as doctors fought for my life. I was grateful for the Parisian medical team and their efforts amidst the shock and humbling experience of not being allowed to move at all until the doctors felt the clots were dissolving.

Once I was deemed safe to fly, I returned home and emotions surged—a blend of relief, joy, guilt, shame, and PTSD. Debilitating panic attacks rendered work impossible, with meditation emerging as a lifeline. Confronting mortality, I began a long journey to face physical, mental, and emotional health issues that I had previously been too busy to make a priority.

My PE triggered a seismic shift, prompting me to adopt holistic wellness and transformative lifestyle changes. I became vegan and gluten-free and gradually began to feel healthy again. Despite obstacles, my 50s brought renewal, vigor, and contentment.

Embracing change, I forged a new professional path to guide others away from ICU beds. I am a plant-based health coach and chef and last year I wrote a book about my experience and helped others to transition to a plant-based lifestyle It’s never too late to evolve, to heal, and to thrive.


Factor V Leiden
Travel and Blood Clots
Birth Control

Always check with your doctor before making dietary changes.

Share your story
The personal story is intended for informational purposes only. The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) holds the rights to all content that appears on its website. The use by another organization or online group of any content on NBCA’s website, including patient stories that appear here, does not imply that NBCA is connected to these other organizations or groups or condones or endorses their work. Please contact info@stoptheclot.org with questions about this matter.

Additional patient stories