Reading about Pulmonary Infarction and Pulmonary Embolism is a scary and sobering wake up call. Seeing the words “sudden death“ used to describe an outcome of this event that happened to me really makes me think. What if I had died on Sunday? I actually could have died on Sunday. I didn’t, so apparently whatever purpose I was put here for has not yet been fulfilled. I had all of the symptoms described below except for coughing up mucus, I haven’t coughed at all really.
Let’s start with Pulmonary Embolism in a nutshell:
Pulmonary embolism is sudden blockage of blood flow in an artery in the lung. The blockage (an embolus) can be caused by a blood clot, tumor, amniotic fluid, or fat in the artery. (mine was caused by a clot in my abdomen/pelvic area after surgery)
Blood clots in the deep veins of the leg are the most common cause of pulmonary embolism. A clot may break loose from a deep vein in the leg and travel to a pulmonary artery in the lung, where it can block blood flow.
Pulmonary embolism can be a very serious condition that can result in death. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolus include:
- Sudden, sharp chest pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain that gets worse with deep breathing or coughing.
- Coughing up blood or pink, foamy mucus.
- Rapid heart rate.
Pulmonary embolism is treated in the hospital with monitoring, oxygen, and anticoagulants to prevent more blood clots.
Without treatment, pulmonary embolism is likely to come back.
Complications of pulmonary embolism may include:
- Cardiac arrest and sudden death.
- Abnormal heart rhythms.
- Death of part of the lung, called pulmonary infarction.
- A buildup of fluid (pleural effusion) between the outside lining of the lungs and the inner lining of the chest cavity.
- Paradoxical embolism.
- Pulmonary hypertension.
- Blood clots that cause pulmonary embolism may dissolve on their own. But if you have had pulmonary embolism, you have an increased risk of a repeat episode if you do not receive treatment. If pulmonary embolism is diagnosed promptly, treatment with anticoagulant medicines (usually heparin and warfarin) may prevent new blood clots from forming.
- The risk of having another pulmonary embolism caused by something other than blood clots varies. Substances that are reabsorbed into the body, such as air, fat, or amniotic fluid, usually do not increase the risk of having another episode. Cancer increases the risk of blood clots.
- Having multiple episodes of pulmonary embolism can severely reduce blood flow through the lungs and heart. Over time, this increases blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension), eventually leading to right-sided heart failure and possibly death.
I am being treated with Lovenox injections twice a day in my abdomen. http://www.lovenox.com/consumer/default.aspx
and oral Coumadin. Both are blood thinning medications. My Coumadin level is almost up to the therapeutic level of 2, it was 1.9 today up from 1.35 yesterday. I have also been diagnosed with Pulmonary Infarction which is the death of part of my right middle lobe of my lung. This is irreversible. Part of my lung is dead forever. Typing it is helping me face it and accept it, at least somewhat.
“In medicine, infarction refers to tissue death (necrosis) caused by an obstruction of the tissue’s blood supply, which leads to a local lack of oxygen. The resulting lesion is referred to as an infarct, (from the Latin infarctus, “stuffed into”).”””
I was diagnosed with these conditions after having a chest X Ray, CT scan, echocardiogram (very cool, an ultrasound of your heart where you can see it beating on a screen and my tech pointed out my different valves) and being hooked up to an ECG machine. I am actually still hooked up even as I type this, I have electrodes stuck all over my chest with leads attached to a machine that keeps track of my blood pressure, heart rhythm and pulse 24/7. My oxygen level is now only checked about 6 times a day and today has been in the high 90’s. I was attached to that all the time until this morning when the oxygen was taken away. Now I just have to find out how long I can expect to be short of breath like I am, even just sitting here I feel like I just climbed a flight of stairs. If I get up and walk to the bathroom or anything, I feel like I ran a marathon. It’s a strange and scary feeling. I am also trying to deal with the idea that part of my lung is dead. The death of part of one of my organs is not an easy thing to wrap your mind around. My hope is that I will go home tomorrow and by next week begin my walking therapy for my back and go on with my life and try to live it to the fullest. Changes need to be made. If nothing else, I have learned that our time here is short and unpredictable. I thought I knew it before but I really know it now. I feel stronger, don’t stop me now!!! 🙂