It happened again. I had a second pulmonary embolism. I had very different symptoms this time and I’m beyond frustrated. So, this is number two for a PE and number three for clots in general (I had a self resolving stroke: TIA 9 years ago.) I had done everything that the doctors told me to. They said my risk was 1-2% to have another clot. So, what is this? Russian Roulette? Reverse lottery (where I lose everything if I win?) I seem to defy the odds.
I tried to see a silver lining in my cloud last time. This time I see endless days of blood thinners and all of the restrictions and symptoms those bring. Last year in January I had a pulmonary embolism, from what my doctors assumed was estrogen supplements and a prolonged illness.
This time… There’s no excuse to be found. I just make clots. And aspirin therapy did not stop this from happening.
About two weeks after I had my first PE: my best friend, since middle school, died. We were both in our mid 40s and facing long and difficult illnesses, only she didn’t make it through hers. I spent much of last year mourning my friend and struggling to get healthy enough that the PE that I had wasn’t completely ruining my life.
It was hard. Like: the hardest thing I’ve ever faced recovering from. Now. It’s January again. Almost to the day: I ended up with another clot. This time it’s much more complicated. I’ve ended up in the er three times in the last week and was inpatient for a few days after my diagnosis.
AGAIN! Again. Again.
How is this fair? I guess the obvious answer to that is: it’s not fair. But I learned a long time ago that life doesn’t deal fairness cards, it just deals life. If I were younger, I’d lament my situation and probably try and blame God for not making my path smooth and easy. But I’m not a kid, and I know, from experience: that my God has given me choices in life. Even now, the choice of how I react to this is mine and mine alone.
Russian roulette or a backwards lottery? I have defied the odds. I was a part of the 1-2% who get a second clot. I was the “two” of the two thirds that survive a PE. I am also demoralized. Struggling. Angry and frustrated.
I am struggling to see the silver lining, but I am alive, and that is the most important thing. Recovering from my last PE took most of the year. It’s a lot like a heart attack. This clot has killed off some of my lung tissue (infarction) and it hurts to breath (pleurisy.) I have the beginnings of pneumonia. I am incredibly tired. But the worst part is that I’m scared.
I’m scared that this is a signal that I need to get my affairs in order. That I need to actively face my mortality, and plan for that event if it happens. I have two small children. I don’t want to leave them. I don’t want to fail in my most basic job as a parent: being around to raise them. But I am not stupid. If two out of three people survive a PE my odds are not good that I will survive a third one.
So here we go again. Step by step, I force my way forward. Step by step, I heal. Step by step, I walk away from death and face towards the prospect of a normal life.
It’s just this time I know what I’m in for. I know how hard this is going to be and I know that I have more complications this time, which means more time and work to recover.
I’m trying to be grateful. And I know this feeling of impending doom will not last forever. I will recover, but I’ll be on blood thinners for life. I’m just hoping that life includes watching my kids graduate middle school, high school and college. I’m hoping I get that chance. And for that: I would be immensely grateful.
Read about my first PE and recovery here. It’s definitely possible to recover from a PE, but it isn’t easy. I am leaning on my faith and family. I know that I am not alone in this struggle, which definitely makes healing easier.