My name is Lisa McAninch-Caudill and I am a pulmonary embolism survivor. My story starts before I was diagnosed.
In November of 2008 my brother, Scott, passed from pulmonary embolisms, which he was misdiagnosed by three different doctors. He was thirty -two years old. I became a adamant advocate for blood clot awareness, not even aware that I would face this same life threatening diagnosis.
In August 2014 I was plagued with hip and back problems, thinking I was suffering from my fibromyalgia, which prompted doctor’s visits and chiropractor visits. Even asking the doctor at the after- hours clinic if I could possibly have a blood clot in my leg, and he said,” No, it is just your fibromyalgia flaring. Go home and rest.” So I did. Within a few days I began to get sick, feeling short of breath, and just not feeling right but could not pin point a reason. Not sure what was wrong, I went to my family doctor and was diagnosed with bronchitis, and was given a steroid shot, antibiotics and inhalers. After a few days with no relief, I went back and was sent for a chest x-ray to check for pneumonia, mind you, this was early morning. I was also having a odd pain in under my left arm in the area of my arm pit and upper ribs, was told I had probably strained myself from coughing, go home and use heat, and again, that is what I did.
As the day went on the pain increased and I thought I had pleurisy, I had this when I was much younger and it is painful, so I told my son, ” We need to go to the ER, because I have had this before and it is painful. Lets go before it gets worse.” Little did I know that this would be a life changing event. When I arrived at the ER I was seen by one of the best doctors in the ER department. He listened to my lungs and said, “I think you might have pneumonia, lets do an x-ray.” Which I replied, “I had one this morning and I haven’t heard from it yet.” He left and came back right away and said, ” I need you to stay calm, but you have no pneumonia, but you are showing signs of blood clots!” I was immediately given heparin in my IV and sent to ICU, and my oxygen dropped through the night. If I had stayed home another night the likely hood of me not being here was even greater, because the odds were already stacked high against me. I did not find out until much later that both lungs were full of clots along with my bronchial airways, and was told many times, you should not be here. Folks, that is a lot for the mind to comprehend, you should not be here! Talk about a mortality awakening!
I was also positive for Factor 5, which was inherited from my father, initial diagnosis after lab work for both parents. My other brother and my son also tested positive, and we are assuming that my brother who passed was also a carrier.
After a week in ICU and pure shock and denial I was sent home. Yep, sent home, and scared to death! What if another embolism happened while I was sleeping? What if I bleed out while taking Coumadin? I feel short of breath, should I run to the ER, because I know this is it! Eight months I suffered from horrendous anxiety. I did not think I would live through this horrible ordeal. Why did I get to stay and my brother didn’t? Why was diagnosis and treatment easy for me and not him? I was later diagnosed with PTSD, survivors guilt, and of course, anxiety.
Two and a half years later, and I am still here! I thank God everyday, all day, several times a day for allowing me to stay. I still have guilt over my brothers death, but I have also learned that it was something I could not control, and it was out of my hands. The anxiety is still there, not as bad, but there and it always will be, and I have to cope with that on a daily basis, but I am here!!
I AM A SURVIVOR!! AMEN!