I kept the fact that I was not doing well pretty quiet because I didn’t want to ruin my families time together (I can be prideful/stubborn sometimes… its something I’m working on). When my Mom asked for an update, I repeated what my doctor had said and told her I’d be following up with a cardiologist when I got back.
After a few relaxing days together, it was time for me to head back to the city. My sister Denise decided that she would fly back to New York with me at the last minute so we were doing the six hour flight together.
While waiting for our plane to board, something inside me compelled me to confess to my sister how awful I had been feeling. “Denise, for the past few days I’ve been really short of breath. I’m fine and when we get back to the city I’m going to see a cardiologist, but I just… thought I should tell you.”
Denise, looked at me with concern. “Okay,” she said slowly “can I do anything for you?”
“No, I’ll be fine.”
I slept most of the flight, it was winter so I had knee-high boots that I had taken off in order to be more comfortable. As people filed out of the plane, I wanted to put my shoes back on but I couldn’t move. I was too weak to bend down, pull my legs up or any of the subtle movements that putting on a pair of shoes requires.
“Denise,” I whispered. “I can’t put on my shoes, can you help me?”
The look in my sisters eyes was a mix of fear and concern that mirrored what I felt inside… something was terribly wrong. My sister crouched down and put my boots on for me, she pulled my suitcase from the overhead compartment and prepared all of our things. At this point we were the last people on the plane. I wanted everything to be okay, so I said that it was. I stood up and began to push my suitcase down the aisle behind my sister.
By the time we made the short walk to first class, I felt like I had no energy or strength left. “Denise, give me a minute,” I said sitting in a first class seat.
Then I fainted.
After being rushed to the ER in an ambulance and given multiple tests, it turns out that I had blood clots in my lungs, a pulmonary embolism. If you know anything about blood clots, you know that flying is the absolute worst thing you can do if you have them. This is why my situation came to a head after the long flight from California to New York.
Writing this story, there were plenty of times that I could have made different choices. Choices that would not have landed me in an airplane seat unconscious. If you read part one, you’ll remember that I basically told my doctor that I felt like I had a blood clot. My self-diagnosis was spot on, but I chose to follow what a doctor said even though it didn’t feel right. I could have gotten a second opinion, but I let a doctor minimize my symptoms and push me off onto a specialist even though I had a gut feeling about what was wrong with me.
I knew… my body told me what was wrong, but I didn’t listen.
I spent 10 days in the hospital, underwent surgery and once I got out of the hospital I had to give myself injections daily for weeks.
I’m fine now, fully recovered and the doctors have no idea why I clotted again since I wasn’t taking birth control or anything and all the tests that they run come back completely normal. I can’t thank God enough that my sister Denise was with me and I didn’t have to go through this alone. This experience is what made me fully commit to losing weight, its the only variable in my health that needs attention.
According to the APS foundation, each year, more than 600,000 people in the United States have a pulmonary embolism, and more than 60,000 of them die. Most of those who die do so within 30 to 60 minutes after symptoms start.
My symptoms went on for close to two weeks, including two 6 hour flights so I thank God constantly that I lived through a PE.