Survivor Spotlight with Beth Bruning

I moved to Albuquerque,New Mexico from Phoenix,Arizona in July of 2015 and have had a hard time breathing since. I have allergies really bad and that makes breathing worse. I got worse when I had mildew growing under my carpet in Arizona. The complex was going to redo the apartment so they didn’t do anything while I was there. They have corporate health care here in New Mexico and I had to wait until December to get an appointment with a pulmonary docotr. I found a primary doctor but she was fresh out of school and didn’t help me much.

Now to take you back to my first clotting episode. My first clot was caused from a laser vein procedure that a nurse practioner did and she couldn’t access the vein so she entered from behind the knee which caused the clot. This was January 24th, 2012.  I went back the next day and was in excruciating pain. I saw a sonograoher not a doctor or nurse practioner. She patted me on the arm, said for me to get some Arnicare and I woukd be ok. My leg was huge at this time. They gave me hydrocodone.

On February 14th, 2012, I saw the doctor and he gave me Gabapentin. Never even caring or giving a second thought that my left leg was huge and red. I was on my way to see another doctor when the nurse practioner’s office called and told me to come in. They did an ultrasound and told me “you have a blood clot”.  I had to be put on blood thinners. Now I had a chronic blood clot in my left leg. The doctor took no responsibility for doing the damage. I had my INR done every week. It was a nightmare.  I was put on blood thinners for six months. 

At 10 months , I was still on them. I finally had the discussion of getting off of them and that is when they told me the clot was chronic and would never go away.   They kept me on blood thinners for 10 months.  Now this is where the allergies come in. I was told I had COPD and asthma. I was given medicine for the allergies,COPD  and everything. As I mentiined above, I had mildew under my carpet and developed a horrible cough but no one did anything about it. My ribs were sore from coughing.

In September, I went to the doctor and had an ultra sound on my chronic blood clot but nothing was done about me being short of breath. They just figured it was my COPD or something else. I have muscle cramps regularly so I thought when my right leg was aching it was from a regular cramp. I was very short of breath. I sat in the ER for 9 hrs on November 17th, 2015 because I couldn’t breathe. The drew blood, took a chest x-ray.  When I saw the doctor and he said I had bronchitis but didn’t understand why my O2 sats kept going up and down. They gave me a breathing treatment, antibotics and steriods. This is the standard treatment when they don’t know what is wrong. All I could do was sit and pray.

On December 25th, 2015, I got my Christmas present. It was bilateral pulmonary embolisms. I drove myself to the ER because I couldnt breathe. The EMT at the desk looked at me and said come with me.   I didn’t go home until the next night. I eventually learned I have Factor V Leiden.  I was 65 years when I was told this.  I have 2 children and have had several surgeries without complications. My heart is ok but I plan on having it checked again. My O2 sats were 70 when I was at the ER. I am on oxygen and blood thinners for life.  I’m on oxygen because of the high altitude in Albuquerque.

My sister that passed away had blood clots in her heart so I think she had the gene.  My older sister was tested but doesn’t have it. Her daughters do.


This leg has chronic clot behind knee. My leg never looked like this before.


This is the leg that produced the PE. Yes,I scratch it all the time. I have to move or it swells bad.

I am 67 yrs old now and counting my blessings.

Survivor Spotlight: Amber Davis

received_421226078477084I have PCOS, so I don’t get a normal period. This particular time, I was bleeding for close to 6 months. The last two weeks were the worst. It was more than I had ever seen. I ended up going to the ER because I was starting to have fainting spells. When I got there and told them I was bleeding to death because of my period, they pretty much laughed me off.  The doctors ended up doing labs and my Hemoglobin was at 6. They did apologize for not taking me seriously when I first arrived and ended up doing a blood transfusion. I spent two nights in the hospital. My OB prescribed an excessive amount birth control pills to stop the bleeding for which I was instructed to take 3 pills a day for 4 or 5 days. The doctor knew I was smoking and still prescribed these anyways. 

A few days later, I went to have a check up and asked him about a charley horse I kept getting in my right calf. He told me to take potassium. He didn’t even look at the leg. I am pretty sure I had a clot in my leg at this point.

A few days later, I couldn’t breathe. I went back to the ER. I was having an awful pain in the dead center of my chest. They took labs, x-ray and a CT. The CT was not clear. They said that they couldn’t see everything in the scan, but they didn’t see any big clots in the areas that they could see. They sent me home, gave me Ativan, told me that I needed to lose some weight and to follow up with my regular doctor for a good plan. 
I went to my doctor the next day and I was sobbing. I knew something wasn’t right. Just walking from my living room to my bathroom had me feeling like I ran a marathon. She believed me and because she is an amazing doctor she sent me to a pulmonologist. They put an oxygen monitor on me and had me walk very slowly down a short hallway. My heart rate went up to 130. This was even with me walking at a slow pace like an elderly woman. They sent me to have another CT scan the next day and I indeed had multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. I spent a few days in the hospital and was sent home with Xarelto. Unfortunately, I had a reaction to the medication and had to switch to Coumadin.

After six months, I had another CT and was approved to stop taking the blood thinners since I had been tested for all the clotting factors and was fine. I’m three years out, but the anxiety is still there.

Through this experience there were was postitive takeaways.  It forced me to quit smoking and lose 70 pounds. I can no longer take any hormonal birth control. I’m happy that I’m still alive and that I had a doctor who believed me.