A Survivor Speaks: Surviving a Silent Killer….The Whole Story by Lisa

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A Survivor Speaks: Surviving a Silent Killer….The Whole Story by Lisa Cowan Wells

I always thought of myself as a Mom, Wife, Friend who wore many capes…I was always on the go, shuffling oldest to high school and job.  Then taking both kids everywhere with me while doing errands for myself, house, school, our brewery and night school for me at the end of the day.  I always lived in fast mode…you would think under those circumstances I could be at least a spokesperson for being able to take on anything!

At the end of last year, 2012, I noticed I started having more health issues than my usual, occasional bronchitis, sinusitis, and asthma episodes.  These continued into this New Year, 2013.  I went to the ER countless times so sick and all they did was say it’s your asthma…here is some prednisone, Z-Pak and pain pills for chest pain.  D-dimer was always coming up negative, so they never pushed further to check for clots since my leg was not giving any signs or signals for a DVT and chest just seem to be asthma related issues.  I noticed that every time they were giving me those meds, the usual ones that always worked when it was bronchitis, asthma related issues weren’t working anymore and the pain in my chest, dizziness, palpitations were getting worse…at this point when I would show up at the ER…I just had to be in search of pain meds, I must be addicted.  The last ER visit I had before the BIG ER visit…he sent me home with the same meds again and said I had pleurisy.  They did a D-dimer each time and again, always negative…this ER visit they even did a CT scan without contrast and said there was nothing.  I began to think I was crazy or something…got really scared.

I was in my kitchen this past April and my daughter gave me something to cut open…instead of using the scissors, I used a small, very sharp knife…dumb, dumb, dumb BUT so glad I did because it was from that cut that got the ball rolling on finding this DVT, multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms I had.  The knife went in deep on the side of my finger…told some friends on Facebook about and they urged me to go to the ER just to be on the safe side to make sure it didn’t get infected…..so, embarrassingly I did.  When I got there they took my BP and it was 179/145…they were freaking out and the thumb became last priority…my pulse was racing at 137.  They walked me back and did and EKG, D-dimer and some tests while they cleaned and bandaged my finger.  They I was informed to get a doctor right away about this blood pressure issue because it was serious.

The next day I did.  Blood pressure still was high, not feeling well in my chest.  He thought go ahead with another round of steroids and be rechecked on the blood pressure after two weeks.  I went in again, this time with tingling sensations (described like a hyperventilation feeling) on my left side from neck, chest, arm, leg and foot. He seemed puzzled. I went home, a few days later could not get off the couch, had a raging headache and still had the same symptoms but this time it was worse and could barely move.  I called the doctor and he suggested I go the ER. The ER checked all those things again.  Asked me if I would like to just go home and see what tomorrow brings or be observed overnight.  I chose to be observed overnight because I knew something was not right.  They kept saying I was just having muscle spasms causing the pain on my left side and was going to release me the next day.  A new doctor came to see me before they made final decision to let me go…we talked, she seemed very concerned and ordered a CT with contrast to check for clots even though the d-dimer was still negative.  Low and behold…nurses started rushing in, hooking me up to things just as I was about to tell my mom I was going home.  I put the phone down and asked him what was going on…he said you have clots in your lungs….WHAT! Me?  Not me…Super Mom.  What is going on…I was so confused and this was so foreign to me.  All kinds of emotions flooded through my brain…I cried, was terrified, confused…everything.

The next day the nurse asked if I would like to take a shower…I said yes.  When I was in there I got this Charley horse sensation and pull in my left leg.  It was very odd.  I debated whether or not to say anything.  Good thing I did.  She ordered a scan of my leg and there it was…a monster of a clot…18 inches!!!!!  There was the culprit that caused the embolisms.

Next day, I had labs…..and about 20 vials of blood were drawn.  All came back negative.

I finally went to a hematologist that did testing that was done and found what it was….I had the MTHFR C677T and the Prothrombin G20210A mutations (heterozygous and homozygous).  What all this means to me right now is that I am a lifer on blood thinners (Warfarin).  I see a genetic counselor on September 5th so this will help me understand…I do know I have to get my daughters tested for sure.

Well there you have the whole story.  I am still Super Mom but in a different and more special way now.  I see the world and my own life differently after coming so close to death.  Thank you all who were by my side from the beginning…my husband, children, family, friend and the friends I have made here that gave me my voice back to make a difference and spread awareness.  Here I am and here is where I want to be!

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Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I consider myself so lucky that five years ago, my DVT was immediately discovered during my first ER visit and just recently I had a great nurse practitioner in the ER who took my symptoms seriously and diagnosed my PEs. You are amazingly brave. Best of luck to you as you continue to manage your health.

    • Thank you for being here, Patty and for sharing your story. I am so grateful to connect with other survivors here and elsewhere on the web. Thank you for your kind words too. I am glad you are a part of this! Take care.

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