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Pulmonary Embolism at 22: Tiffany Psilovikos' Story
To start out, I graduated from San Diego State University in May 2010, and I was supposed to start a paralegal graduate program at University of San Diego in September 2010, but I was in the hospital during that time. I went to Hawaii with my family in August 2010 for a college graduation trip. Upon our return flight (a red eye into LAX) I got up out of my seat and had severe calf pain in my left leg. I attributed it to running and didn't think much of it that day. Then, the next day it was still bothering me so I went to the local urgent care and the doctors figured it may be a blood clot, so they ran an ultrasound which came out negative. They then told me to go home, use the crutches, and rest. Nearly two days after that my leg was still throbbing quite a bit and the vicodin was not helping at all. It got to the point where I could not walk from my bedroom to the bathroom. I called my mom from the other room on my cell phone and my step dad had to carry me over his shoulder down the stairs and into the car.
My mom drove me to the ER where they took a new ultrasound, which came out negative. I was still in so much pain, so my mom urged for more tests. The doctors ended up doing an MRI which showed one blood clot, but since it was below the knee they did not want to put me on blood thinners. I then followed up with a vein specialist who took a third ultrasound and he found not one, but two blood clots. Right away he began me on Lovenox. I was supposed to continue those on my own for one week. Unfortunately, the following morning, 5 days after I returned from Hawaii I had severe chest pain- it felt like an elephant was stomping on my chest. My mom took me into the doctors and they rushed me to the hospital where they found out that one of the blood clots had moved to my lung. The blood clot had moved within 12 hours to my lung, so I am very thankful that the CAT SCAN saved my life. The doctor told me in the ER that he just had a patient who died from a pulmonary embolism, so I am blessed and thankful that I am alive.
I was hospitalized for one week. For now, I am on Coumadin for either a year or possibly life due to the 2 genetic blood disorders that they discovered after my hospital stay. But I'm not complaining because I am alive and have a second chance at life.
I am only 22 years old and this unfortunate event made me realize how much I appreciate the little things in life. For example, the fresh air and the sunlight. While I was in the hospital I didn't have the opportunity to enjoy those little things people take for granted. I asked one day if I could be wheeled outside to breath the fresh air and the doctors declined because my heart monitor would not reach outside. I was devastated. I missed the sun and fresh air that people typically do not treasure. Now I make sure I appreciate every single breath I take from here on out.
I'm also proud to say that I just ran my 12th half marathon in February 2011 and got my personal record time of 1:49 :) I'm not letting some blood clots in my lungs or leg get in the way of my passion for running!
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