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Blood Clots in the Lung (Pulmonary Embolism - PE) at 28 Years Old: Bonnie's Story

Blood clot (PE) survivor Bonnie Jacobs

Bonnie Jacobs
December, 2008

I'm talking about this because I want everyone to know the risks and symptoms. This is not something I thought could happen to me.

Recently, I was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in my lung. I'm 28 and 140 pounds. I'm an otherwise healthy person. I exercise. I eat well. I only drank and smoked occasionally, once a month out at the bar with friends. I am not the typical victim, but it still happened to me.

Here's what happened in hindsight. I figured this out after talking with my doctor and nurses. I started taking the oral contraceptive YAZ three months before the clot. I felt fine while on it. I had lighter periods, clearer skin, fewer cramps, and fewer pms symptoms.

A few months after starting YAZ, I had a pain in the back of my right calf. It felt like a bruise, but I had no visible mark on my leg. It was not that painful; just annoying. I decided it was from working out, and I put some muscle rub ointment on my leg.

The pain went away after a few days, but then the next week I had a pain in my foot in the outside middle of my foot. It felt like a stone bruise. It was similar to the pain of a bruise you get from stepping on a rock. This did hurt a bit more and I had a bit of a limp. But I do go on walks and walk around at work, and walk on a treadmill. I thought I had injured it and not noticed at the time.

The pain went away. I then started to get a pain in my chest and back just under my left breast and through to my back. This felt like a pulled muscle. It hurt when I took a deep breath or twisted my torso. I had this pain for three days. It didn't hurt enough for me to want to see a doctor. It felt like I had done too many sit-ups.

On the third day I was on my way to visit my boyfriend who lived three hours away. On the way there my chest and back started to hurt terribly. I could hardly breath. Every breath gave me a stabbing pain in my chest. I hurt so bad and got so worried I stopped in a small town and went to the ER.

At the ER I was diagnosed with a pulled intercostal muscle, I got a chest xray, which looked a bit odd, but the radiologist thought that it looked like fluid in my lungs because I was unable to take a deep breath for several hours. I was sent home with prescription pain killers.

My boyfriend picked me up. We spent the weekend fishing and going out to dinner with friends. I was still having intermittent pain. I took the vicodin prescribed and and iced my chest and back. I thought I would be fine in a few days.

I returned home on Monday. I had an overwhelming urge to make an appointment right away with my doctor. I felt uneasy about the weird chest x-ray, and I just had a feeling I needed to see my doctor. I had a strange sense of impending doom. I stayed home from work.

I had an appointment on Tuesday afternoon. I talked with my doctor. Because I was having chest pain and I was on the birth control he wanted a CT scan of my chest. I thought he was being overly cautious but I had the scan.

I sat in the waiting room for the results. My doctor called after half an hour and told me I had a blood clot in my lung and that I needed to be admitted and started on IV blood thinners* right away.

I spent the next five days in the hospital getting the IV blood thinner* heperin. I also was taking a oral drug warfarin. I was released on Sunday. I'll be on the warfarin for at least 6 months. My clot will slowly dissolve on its own with the blood thinner*. I'll have to be cautious to not get cut and I'll bruise easily. I'm still at risk for forming another clot and will be for the rest of my life. I know the warning signs now.

I don't want this to happen to anyone else. This was a very scary experience for my family and me. I never thought this could happen to me. I thought I was too young and healthy. I had read the warnings on my birth control and I assumed the only way I could get a clot was to be a heavy smoker and be overweight. This is not the case.

Pulmonary embolism is fatal if left untreated. Blood clots can break off and move into the lungs heart and brain depriving the body of the oxygen and blood supply that it needs and causing permanent tissue damage and death.

However. if caught early, a blood clot and a pulmonary embolism are extremely treatable. I have been told that I should make a full recovery. And I thank God that my pulmonary embolism was caught before it was too late.

Please pass this information on to others. If telling my story helps one person I'll be satisfied that my experience was not in vain.

Thanks,
Bonnie


Editor's Note

Bonnie runs an online support group for individuals whose lives have been affected by blood clots. You can access her support group online at:

www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=30285447238

*Although many people (including doctors) refer to drugs like heparin and warfarin as "blood thinners," it is worth noting that these anticoagulant medications do not actually make the blood thinner. ClotCare has received a number of email questions over the years that indicate that this term often gives patients the wrong idea about these medicines. These medications stop or prevent clots; they don't affect the thinness of thickness of blood.

Ask a question about blood clots or anticoagulant medications Have questions? Ask ClotCare. Send questions by email to webmaster@clotcare.org.

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Friday, August 22, 2014