My very first published piece is located on stoptheclot.org! And, it is something that is (literally) near and dear to my heart. My health crisis, has become a blessing in so many ways. I felt an urge to get my story out, to save even just one life. The original posting is on http://www.stoptheclot.org/news/kimbery-jo-cooleys-blood-clot-story.htm:
I’m a thirty three year old, healthy mother of three children, and I was diagnosed with a Pulmonary Embolism in July, 2013.
I vaguely recall bumping my left shin on my platform bed, and feeling a leg cramp. It had been a long time since I had a leg cramp, but figured I needed to eat more bananas for potassium, which helps prevent leg cramps.
A week later, Saturday, July 13th, I felt a tightness in my chest. I thought, “Gee, I am gaining weight!” I was breathing shallowly, but assumed the Sacramento summer heat was getting to me.
The following Monday morning, I drove to work and I was feeling a little lightheaded. I called my mother once I got to work. She told me to call the doctor. I thought my mother was overreacting, and I told her if the tightness persists, I’d consider making an appointment.
That day, I climbed a set of steep stairs near my office building, which I normally had no problem doing; but this day, every step was agonizing. I couldn’t catch my breath, and had to pause with each step. I still didn’t think anything was wrong – just assumed it was time to start a new exercise regimen. On the drive home from work, I felt the tightness again, so much so, I needed to take my bra off.
Tuesday was the same symptoms, only more intensified. As I breathed, there were sharp pains on the left side of my chest and I couldn’t take a deep breath. I’d listen to Podcasts and had trouble comprehending what was being said. On my drives to and from work, it felt like I was even starting to black out.
On Wednesday morning, I barely made it to work. I was so dizzy and disoriented by the time I arrived. My mother called me and asked me how I was feeling. I told her, “like crap.” She demanded I call Kaiser’s advice nurses and make an appointment. I was so busy at work. I was a new arbitration specialist for an auto insurance company. I had workaholic tendencies, and the thought of going to the doctor felt like a waste of time.
I decided to listen to my mother because the dizzy episodes were starting to freak me out.
I called the advice nurse. She placed me on hold to consult the on-call doctor. When she got back on the line, she said, “I do not want to alarm you, but you need to get an ambulance or have a co-worker drive you to the ER (emergency room) right now.” I was like, why? She proceeded to tell me that I had life threatening symptoms, and then said, “I wish you all the best. I am sending you waves of light. May God bless you.”
I began to sob. I called my husband and he picked me up to take me to the ER. I was too cheap to call for an ambulance, and I really didn’t want to bother my co-workers in the event that there was nothing really wrong.
I went to the ER and the staff attended to me right away. They ran some blood tests, one of which was a D-dimer test. While the nurses were out, I googled on my smart phone what a D-dimer test was for. I realized it was to rule out blood clots. A few minutes later, a doctor confirmed the diagnosis.
A CT scan confirmed I had a blood clot in my left lung. I was prescribed Lovenox injections and Warfarin. Two days later, I was back in the ER with excruciating pain on my left side. The ER doctor explained that the pain I was feeling was the area where the PE was caused that part of the lung to die – a pulmonary infarction. They gave me Norco for the pain and I went home.
I feel like a combination of things caused my PE. I have a sedentary job where I sit for many hours per day. I bumped my left leg, which likely caused a DVT (blood clot in the leg). I was once a smoker. I did test negative for genetic clotting disorders. They still do not know officially what caused it, so I will be on blood thinners the rest of my life.
I made some changes in my life. I take frequent breaks at work now. I exercise. I go to the doctor when unusual symptoms pop up, despite what the financial costs may be. I now put my health first in my list of priorities.
Take Home messages
·Blood clots can happen to young, seemingly healthy people.
·Seek medical attention for symptoms that seem like a muscle pull or soreness, especially when they seem to get worse, since DVTs often appear in that way.
·Get care right away in the ER for chest pain or shortness of breath.
·Pay attention to unusual shortness of breath and seek medical help as soon as possible.
·Immobility can increase your risk of blood clots.
·Trauma to the leg can increase your risk of blood clots.
·Listen to your body and go to the doctor when something doesn’t feel right.