What you think “won’t happen to me,” actually happened to me. And it should have killed me.
Monday September 27, 2010 is a day that is engraved in my brain as the day I should have died.
After two weeks of complaining about leg pain, and what I thought was arthritis pain, I was taken to the emergency room by coworkers after fainting at my desk. I had spent the Friday prior at the same ER and cleared of a suspected blood clot. The ultrasound tech was rushed and missed a massive DVT that shot to my lungs, along with 12 clots. After another ultrasound, EKG and CT scan confirmed I had multiple Pulmonary Emboli (PE). I didn't quite understand at the time what had happened, but I had cheated death.
My birth control was a huge factor in causing my blood clots, not the only cause. I often think about how lucky I am when I have met so many people who have lost their loved ones to a pulmonary embolism, DVT or stroke just breaks my heart. I am not against birth control, but I do believe anything that can cause these types of side effects needs to be discussed with a doctor, and doctors need to do a better job of explaining the risk factors and what to look for instead of just writing a script. I have two friends who have also survived PE’s whose lives have been forever changed, and I know three more in my community that have passed away from a DVT/PE or Stroke. What you think “won’t happen to me,” actually happened to me. And it should have killed me.
know your body.
PE’s aren’t just caused from Birth control. Many men are also affected by blood clots. Make sure you know the signs and symptoms of a blood clot. Pay attention to what your “normal” feels like, and anything different from that, get it checked out sooner rather than later. These symptom can be aggressive.
· Symptoms of blood clots in the deep veins of the legs or arms, where they commonly form, include pain and swelling, with skin that might be discolored and/or warm to the touch.
· The symptoms of blood clots in the lungs include chest pain, particularly with a deep breath, coughing up blood, and an accelerated heart rate.
Life after a PE is hard. The shots, the pills, the chest pain, trouble breathing, the blood checks, dietary restrictions (until you get to therapeutic levels), and the struggle to find your therapeutic range is a challenge, and balancing the pain and whether it’s a red flag or you’re OK.
Trying to find therapeutic levels is hard, if your blood is too thin, you won’t clot, but you could bleed out. If it’s too thick you could clot again. I have to go in to get my blood checked every couple of weeks. If it’s too high, which it usually is, I usually have to fight the nurse/pharmacist to not drop my warfarin dose too much in fear my therapeutic level will drop into the red zone.
I went back to the ER 3 times after my PE, I was scared from the pain that it was all happening again. Seeing the scared look on your family and friends face to see you in the hospital, I know it wasn’t just terrifying for me, it was for them too.
This day will always hang heavy on my heart as the day I should have died. I ask of you one thing, know your body. Blood clots happen to the healthy, they happen to men and they happen to women, know the signs and symptoms so you know when to get to a hospital, it could save your life.