A Survivor Speaks: It took almost 13 months to feel fine by Caitlynn

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A Survivor Speaks: It took almost 13 months to feel fine by Caitlynn Stamey

If I am being honest, fine is the only word I can use to describe how I feel. A year and two months ago, I was hospitalized for bilateral pulmonary emboli. I’m talking about 13 blood clots in my upper chest. If I had gone to the hospital any later than I did, the doctors said I would have had a heart attack, or even better, a stroke. Can you imagine that? A 20 year-old suffering from a stroke? A stroke that would have been self-inflicted. You see, I didn’t happen upon blood clots, I was my own enemy in this story. Or at least, birth control was, and I was the one who doubled & tripled up on doses when I missed a few days. All of my friends did it, so why was I any different? Because, little to my knowing, I have Factor V Leiden. This is a blood clotting disorder that is triggered to kill you via estrogen. Go figure.

My story is just like everyone else’s, I had the worst pain you could ever imagine and I ignored it for three days. I waited until the pain was so unbearable that I went to an ER. It took four doctors, three x-rays, eight hours, two CT’s, several blood tests, and at least two urine tests to determine what was going on. I like to think the doctors didn’t want to believe they were about to tell a lively, life-loving 20 year old that life as she knew it was over. You are not invincible, no alcohol if at all possible, long plane rides could be your demise, and having babies is pretty much out the window seeing as you also have PCOS.

Staring my mortality in the face was probably the hardest part of this whole thing. You see, all my friends still think that they are infinite. I do not. When I brought up my PE’s most of my friends laughed it off like it was nothing. I guess I don’t blame them. Who wants to think about the possibility of dying at 20 years young? Nobody does. But the elephant in the room that everyone ignored was what I was, and still am living with. To this day I stay up all night thinking about everything that happened last year. I feel better physically, but mentally and emotionally I am drained. I find myself looking up blogs on PE’s or reading about them (like I don’t already know everything there is to know about them having survived one).

Don’t get me wrong, I am SO THANKFUL to be alive. I guess that I never understood how someone could question their existence when they’ve lived through something that should have killed them. I understand now. I am slowly recovering; I do things that the doctors told me I might not be able to. I try to live my life to the fullest because I know how quickly it can slip away. I chase my dreams like no tomorrow and I try to be the same happy go lucky girl I was pre-PE.

I think that post PE Caitlynn is pretty bad-ass, though.

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  1. a little over 4 months for me and there’s still so many unanswered questions still alot of scary moments still alot of pain and it feels like i’m alone in it all like nobody still believes the pain is there feels so lonely going through this all one minute things is normal next minute i’m in the ER caughing up blood struggling to take a breath then i’m sent home few days later to struggle 🙁 i don’t want pitty just want to heal

    • Hi, Jerich! I am so glad you found us. Welcome and I am sorry to hear you are struggling – we understand! And, healing is what it is all about, but sometimes that feels next to impossible, I know, with all that is going on. I can completely relate to you about feeling the pain, but it is hard for others to believe you. I went through that for almost the first year and it unfortunately cost me some friendships I thought I needed at the time. It is very difficult unless you have been there to know, or even describe it. I am thinking of you and hoping you can find some answers. Please don’t hesitate to come back and let us know how you are doing or ask how we can help. Welcome!

  2. I feel exactly the same ‘Jerich’ – I feel drained and I am 1 1/2 years after my first PEs, still none the wiser as to why I had them in the first place or why I have had another one this year. I am just told that I am to be on Warfarin for life now and that’s that. It’s so frustrating and I hate being sent home to struggle like you say. Once they rule out another PE they just fob me off and send me on my way, then the pain is still there, getting worse! Doctor won’t see me without me going to my ER (A&E) and then they keep me in because of my history – so frustrating x

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