Patient Story: Taking Charge of Your Life with a PE by Megan Weisgerber

Blog Photo Weisgerber, MeganOn a cold February afternoon, the pain in my legs and ankles was unbearable. After standing on my feet all day at work, I thought the pain was just from that, but it did not go away. I went to the local Urgent Care, they ran an EKG and since I had started birth control, the doctor advised me to go to the ER. I remember feeling frightened and thinking “What is wrong with me? What if I need surgery?” My parents were on vacation and I drove myself to the Urgent Care, so I called my boyfriend who immediately came and got me took me to the ER.

When I got to the ER, I felt as if my heart was about to come out of my chest. I was freaking out. I am only 18 and I had never been in the hospital. The doctor in the ER explained to me that a side affect from the birth control was a pulmonary embolism. I didn’t even know what that was. That night, I went for an x-ray which came back fine, but the doctor informed me to take a nap and in three hours, I would be sent for a scan of my lungs. He made it sound like I would be fine because the x-ray was okay. He said the scan should be negative and I would be going home afterwards. Shortly after they took me in for the scan, I was approached by a new doctor because my original doctor had gone home. The new doctor informed me that I had a pulmonary embolism (PE). I can remember exactly how I felt at that moment. My heart sank and I began to cry. I felt as if my entire world collapsed. My parents were almost three hours away. Thank God I had my boyfriend with me who consoled me.

I thought I would need surgery which was something I have never had. I have the biggest fear of being given anesthesia or having to breathe with the help of a machine. As I was crying, the doctor told me I would be placed in the hospital for a couple of days, which made me freak out even more. I am a college student and missing a couple of days is a lot of work to make up. I remember thinking, “How am I going to survive this? I can’t do this.” The doctor informed me I would be placed on injection blood thinners for at least three months. All I could think about was, “Am I going to survive this?!”

Weisgerber, Megan_QuoteI was transferred to the Children’s Hospital and was hospitalized for three days. The doctors and nurses at the Children’s Hospital made me feel at ease. They gave me the comfort I needed and they helped me believe in myself that I can fight this. I do not like letting my family when I am scared or worried. All I wanted to do was cry myself to sleep and wake up and have all of this be over. The first night when my family left and I was all alone, I just began to cry and cry. This was the first time that I was alone since I was diagnosed. I had the time to just reflect on everything. I told myself that I had to be strong for my family and that I would make it through this.

I went from living a carefree life, always being out late and enjoying life to having my world flipped upside down. Now, I am tired and worn out easier, I have to take injections twice a day and even on my days off, I have to wake up at 6:30 a.m. to take my shot. I feel as though I had to grow up and really get my stuff together.

There are times when it is hard and my friends want to hangout and I would love to, but I am just so worn out I can’t. I feel bad because they do not fully comprehend how serious and painful this has been. I learned a lot about myself, family, and friends. It is true that you learn who your real friends are when you are sick. People who I never would have expected reached out to me, and people who I thought would be by my side, did not even send a text. It’s okay, though, because I promised myself from now on I would only focus on positive vibes and people who care.

There is no way I could have made it through the past month without my parents, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my boyfriend, Kris, and my best friends, CJ and Nick. They are the perfect example of a great support system. They were all by my side in the hospital when I needed them the most. I practically spent everyday with Kris and CJ before the clot. We would always be out late and enjoying ourselves, but now I cannot do that anymore. Yet, they still stay by my side even if it is just laying low and doing nothing. They understand and accept it.

I feel as if I am going to be okay now. Yes, I am worried that I will have to be on my medication for six months instead of three, but I know that God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle. I have my special angel in the sky watching over me, and I know I will make it through this. I would love to become an advocate for pulmonary embolisms. People are not aware of how serious and dangerous this can be. I was living with one and my only symptom was my feet being swollen, which was something I would have never thought would lead to being on medication, injecting myself with shots for three months.

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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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