The Dangerous Pregnancy Complication Nobody Warns You About
You’ve probably never heard of a Pulmonary Embolism and you’ve probably never been told about it. As a Pregnant women and post-partum, you need to know the signs and symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism (PE). Don’t think it can’t happen to you, because it happened to me!
After my son was stillborn, I immediately started working at my brother’s Gas and Oil field company in Security. I handle loss differently and working 12 hour shifts got my mind off of the loss of my son, Hunter. If you would have told me then that I could die any second because I had multiple blood clots in both of my lungs, I would have laughed at you. How could I have blood clots in my lungs? Lucky for me, I knew something was wrong because I studied Handwriting Analysis for years and I have the knowledge of health issues in Handwriting. My handwriting showed “dots” in the zone of my chest area. I tried to ignore them but I had symptoms and decided to pay attention.
Before I tell you my symptoms, here are some statistics and facts. Hopefully this will encourage you to share this with others and to PAY ATTENTION to the symptoms I experienced as I have a feeling they are more common than medical professionals are aware of as there are no studies of symptoms of people who have died because of a Pulmonary Embolism. I am alive to tell you my symptoms although I know I shouldn’t be. God had a different plan for me. Hopefully he does for you, as well!
PULMONARY EMBOLISM (PE) AND DVT STATISTICS, FACTS AND INFORMATION
*Estimates suggest anywhere from 300,000 to 600,000 people are effected by PE and/or DVT per year.
*Of the estimated 300,000-600,000 people with a PE/DVT, 30,000 to 100,000 of those people will die within one month of diagnosis.
*SUDDEN DEATH IS THE FIRST KNOWN SYMPTOM IN APPROXIMATELY 25% OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE A PULMONARY EMBOLISM!*
*30% of untreated Pulmonary Embolism patients will die.
*DVT in pregnant women is on the left side 85% of the time. DVT can lead to a Pulmonary Embolism.
Hopefully, you will be your own advocated and educate yourself about the symptoms and dangers of PE. I knew after I lived through it that I had to share my knowledge as it can save lives. I thought about going to the News and asking them to do a story on it, however, I’m antisocial and I didn’t want any attention to be on me. I wanted to spread awareness on PE as well as Stillbirth without being the focus of the attention. This blog is the only way I know how to do that!
With that said, here is a list of all the symptoms and signs I personally experienced… Do NOT dismiss symptoms as being related to your loss and do NOT look for a medical guide to tell you whether you have a PE or not. Why? I had seen PE as a possible cause of very few of the symptoms I had. It didn’t seem likely or possible, though, and I skipped right past it as a possibility. The symptoms got worse over the period of 3 weeks to a month and they became harder to ignore. The issue is.. you can drop dead of a PE without ANY symptoms at all. The fact I had so many symptoms means to me that my son, Hunter was watching over me and that God had other plans.
I will list all of the symptoms I experienced, when they started, as well as including detailed explanations of each of the symptoms and how I experienced them so that if you are going through any of the symptoms, you should know after reading this.
Symptoms and Signs of Pulmonary Embolism
– Pain in Legs after Epidural (I told the nurse it hurt to walk and she told me this was normal)
– Voice Changes
– Sharp Twinges/Pains in Chest
– Shortness of Breath
– Feeling that something was wrong
– Headaches and Migraines
– Feeling of Dehydration
– Extreme Thirst
-*Feeling of Being Unable to Take a Deep Breath*
– Tingling and/or Numbness
– Panic Attack(s)
– Asthma Attack
The first symptom I experienced immediately after the loss of my son was anxiety. My Mom contacted the OBGYN and told them I needed Xanax. The doctor ordered Xanax (I was never diagnosed with anxiety so I’m still unsure as to why he ordered so willingly) and I was taking it as prescribed (as needed every so many hours) for the days immediately after I lost Hunter. I didn’t know why it helped considering I’ve never had anxiety before in my life and I felt more depressed than anxious after I lost my son.
I was working 12 hour shifts and that’s when I realized I was actually experiencing anxiety. I was worrying about something being wrong with me and had an overall feeling of worry. I didn’t know why I was worried and I didn’t understand the feeling of having anxiety as I never experienced it before in my life and I never understood when people told me they had anxiety or worry or fear. My Mom was always overly-worried about everything when I was growing up and I never understood why she wasted her time worrying.
If you are experiencing anxiety after you lose your baby, while your pregnant or for up to 3 months post-partum, do not dismiss it as being normal and do consider a possible PE.
I had to add this in. On the first occasion, I got lost on the highway on the first day I went to the location by myself and I called my brother because I had accidently got onto the turnpike. He yelled at me and I started yelling back at him and I basically lost my voice because I was crying and yelling at the same time. I called my Dad who calmed me down and I got to work about 30 minutes late but I still didn’t have my voice. I chalked it up to the fact I had a panic attack and was yelling. Eventually, my voice seemed to go back to normal.
On the day I went to the ER, I once again was yelling at my fiancé because he didn’t understand I couldn’t feel my body as I was driving and I was freaking out on the way home from work. If you have any changes in your voice, or even if you lose your voice from “yelling”, don’t ignore this.
*Sharp Twinges/Pains in Chest*
If you are experiencing ANY chest pain, whether it comes and goes or stays for a little, etc., DO NOT IGNORE IT. I would have random chest pains throughout the day and I must have known something was wrong because I bought Aspirin and began taking it daily, sometimes more than once a day. I almost felt like I could be having a heart attack but I didn’t know if that was anxiety or not.
The pains could be described multiple different ways and they were all different. One type of pain was the most significant I had felt when I was driving, it was so sharp right on my left side on my lower rib area and it felt like a pop/stab. It came and went fast enough that I didn’t think too much of it but I did think about it throughout the day. It was extremely painful for the seconds it lasted. I think this was the blood clot moving to a different area or clogging a different part of my lung.
The other ways to explain the pains are sharp, stabbing, constant at times, pressure, etc., If you feel anything different in your chest – do not wait and see if it just goes away. Get it checked out and mention the fact you are pregnant, just gave birth, etc., and you should ask them to rule out a PE!
Along with the other symptoms, about a week after I lost my son, I began to have headaches and migraines more frequently. I actually thought these could be from a hangover on days after I drank a lot because after I lost my son, I started to drink after I worked 12 hour shifts. I thought it was possible the dehydration and headache/migraines were caused by drinking the night before even when I really hadn’t drank much. I stopped drinking as much because I hated having to drink so much water/Gatorade to try and help my migraines.
Looking back now, the migraines and headaches were probably related to the Pulmonary Embolism rather than drinking and even when I didn’t drink anything, I’d still get the migraines along with the other symptoms. Don’t just take an advil and forget about any headaches or migraines post-partum or even while pregnant (Tylenol while pregnant). If the migraines aren’t just lasting a day and are unusual to you, make sure you get them checked out. If you are experiencing migraines with the other symptoms, consider a PE.
I was extremely dehydrated (or atleast it felt like I was) but that could be caused by the fact my body was literally being deprived of oxygen. If you feel more thirsty or dehydrated, don’t ignore it. Consider it a possible symptom of PE – once again, especially if you are drinking enough of your daily water intake recommendation and you have no reason to be dehydrated.
*Inability to Take a Deep Breath (Shortness of Breath symptom)*
This is perhaps the most telling symptom I had because it was so unusual. I have had asthma since before I can even remember and I always had breathing problems. When people describe shortness of breath, I’ve never heard anyone include the feeling of being unable to take a deep breath. I thought this could be anxiety and I can’t remember exactly when it started, but it bothered me wholeheartedly. I would drink more and more water because then I knew my throat wasn’t closed, and I would open my mouth and try to inhale deeply and it wouldn’t happen. It felt like something was stopping the process of getting a nice, deep breath. It turned out, blood clots in both lungs WERE stopping my ability to take a nice deep breath. I could get one in a few times a day if that, but I didn’t realize this was a huge symptom until after the diagnosis of a PE. It actually bothered me to the point where I mentioned it to my Mom and/or Dad… I’m not an emotional, anxious person and for me to bring it up to anyone meant I knew it wasn’t right and I was hoping for some type of reassurance and explanation. I got possible explanations, but never the one I needed – blood clots in my lungs!
This was one of the last symptoms I began experiencing more and more frequently. It may have started after a few days or a week but if it did, it wasn’t noticeable enough for me to remember it now. What I do remember is that I asked my doctor to refill the Xanax because I told my Mom I had bad anxiety and I had tingling in my hands and/or legs. She told me that I was having a panic attack and to calm down, etc., The OBGYN refused to refill the Xanax script and told me if I was still having anxiety to go to the hospital to be checked out (they acted like I just wanted Xanax basically).
When they refused to fill the script, it of course made my anxiety worse considering I was all alone in a security shack in the middle of nowhere and I wasn’t allowed to leave until the night shift worked relieved me. If that person didn’t show up, I’d be stuck there until someone did. The day I ended up going to the ER, as fate would have it, my fiancé had to come up to the shack and pick up his truck. He had left it there a day or two earlier because he was drunk when he came to fix my flat tire and I told him I wanted to drive home. He had to be dropped off to get his truck and I asked my co-worker to come in early if he was able to. My fiancé left at the same time with me because I felt like my entire body was going numb and my anxiety and “asthma” had been TERRIBLE all day long.
On the highway, I started yelling at him on the phone (he was right behind me) because he was being rather inconsiderate to my symptoms and he was annoyed he had to wait for me to get off work the day he came to get his truck because I asked him if he would. I kept telling him I couldn’t feel my body and I was driving 80-90 mph at this point because I wanted to get home I knew something was wrong.
We came up to a traffic jam and I started to have an even more severe panic attack. It was bumper to bumper with both lanes backed up for atleast a mile. Luckily, there was an exit right next to the start of the traffic and I called my fiancé and told him I couldn’t drive anymore and I told him I wanted him to take me to the hospital. I literally pulled my car to the very side of the highway, got everything I could out of my car and jumped in his truck. At this point, I KNEW something was wrong with me. I told him I was dying and I told him to take me to the hospital. I told him I was dying and I truly believe I was. I actually felt like I was going to pass out on top of the numbness and tingling… I told him if I passed out I would NOT wake up. This makes sense now considering the fact I should have died from the blood clots in both lungs so I had little oxygen and when I was panicking and yelling, I was losing air rather than conserving what little air I did have. Of course, I didn’t know I had blood clots in my lungs so I wasn’t “conserving air” or thinking rationally. I just knew I was dying. I went into the ER, and by the Grace of God the doctor that came into my room told me because I had recently given birth, she wanted to give me a Contrast CT scan to check if I had a Pulmonary Embolism. She told me it was extremely unlikely but that it was best to rule it out.
I went through the CT, fell asleep back in the room they had me in and when I woke up I was told I did have a Pulmonary Embolism and they would need to give me a shot in my stomach. I was so tired and relieved all I really cared to know was that I did in fact have something wrong with me. I had no idea I could have died or how serious a PE is.
IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THE ABOVE SYMPTOMS, DON’T HESITATE TO SPEAK WITH YOUR DOCTOR OR GO TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM!
If you are still unsure of whether or not you should go to the doctor or ER, send me an email, comment, reach out to me and I will be glad to tell you if I experienced what you tell me you are experiencing. However, PE is a serious condition and it is deadly. Healthy kids, adults, and even seniors literally drop dead because of this. I know those healthy kids, adults and seniors HAD TO have had symptoms, but they never realized how serious they symptoms were or they were told the symptoms pertained to something else such as asthma or anxiety, etc., Please take this extremely serious. If anyone you know is currently pregnant or post-partum, please share this knowledge with them. If a pregnant woman or recently pregnant woman shares similar symptoms with you, please educate her as you could save her life!
If you are having symptoms such as the ones I had, please don’t just dismiss them. The shortness of breath is supposedly the most common sign of a PE, however, I have had asthma my entire life and I’m a smoker so I didn’t recognize the shortness of breath nearly as much as I noticed every other symptom I experienced. The day I ended up going to the ER was the day I had an “asthma attack” and I told my fiancé to bring my inhaler that day because I finally felt the severe shortness of breath. I do not suggest you rely on the symptom “shortness of breath” if you are showing other signs of PE.
I have no blood clotting factors and there is no reason why I would have a PE. Now, I am on lovenox/heparin because I am pregnant again. Prior to becoming pregnant, I had been a smoker for years and I also had been on birth control when I was younger. I never got blood clots from the hormones, etc., and my Pulmonary Embolism did NOT start as a DVT. I will never know for sure what caused my Pulmonary Embolism but my son passed away due to a placental abruption. I feel that when my placenta abrupted, somehow amniotic fluid or the abruption itself created blood clots that got into my vein(s) and eventually or maybe even immediately went into my lungs.
Thank you for your time and please keep this in your mind throughout your pregnancy and post-partum period. Don’t ever hesitate to go to the ER if you believe you could have a DVT or PE. I’d love to hear others’ experiences with PE and I’d love to hear feedback so I can better your reading experience. I intend to share my knowledge to help anyone and everyone I can. If I’m not sharing it in a way that makes you want to keep reading, please let me know! Any comments, questions and/or feedback is always highly appreciated!