In April 2007, I began to urinate blood. Diagnosis…bladder cancer.
And so began a very bizarre 18 months of my health and my life.
Fast forward to September 2007. After a year of bitching and moaning to Mrs. Dude about constant stomach pain and losing 15 pounds, I finally listened to her and went to see a GI. Diagnosis…celiac disease.
Wait…it gets better.
Fast forward now to September 2008. I’m working in my home office on a Sunday night (yeah…I know…total loser) and all of the sudden I began to feel “not right”. Hard to explain. I had this strange pain down my neck and into my shoulder, which hurt more when I took a deep breath. I went downstairs to tell Mrs. Dude that I don’t feel right, she suggested we go to the emergency room and off we went.
Just kidding. I didn’t listen to her again. I can be such a guy (aka stubborn fool) when it comes to my health.
An hour later or so, we’re lying in bed, and I got a jolt through my entire body. Again, hard to explain. But I jumped out of bed and said “what the hell was that??” So Mrs. Dude and I drove to the emergency room.
Again…just kidding. I told Mrs. Dude I’d sleep it off and see how I feel in the morning. Mrs. Dude spent the entire evening poking me in my back to make sure I was still alive. No joke.
The next morning, I felt better but called my doc just the same. He said he’s sure it’s nothing but I might as well go to the emergency room just the same to play it safe. After two hours of exams, x-rays and prods, the doc finally came in and gave me an official diagnosis.
I had multiple blood clots in both of my lungs. Medical term: pulmonary embolism (PE). This happens when you get a blood clot in your body, usually your leg, and it releases and passes through the blood stream into the lungs.
Here’s a fun fact: Pulmonary embolus is the second leading cause of sudden death, behind coronary artery disease. If the blood clot is large enough, it can block blood from exiting the right side of the heart, thus preventing blood from entering the lungs. If no blood enters the left side of the heart to pump blood throughout the rest of the body, this can result in shock (circulatory collapse) and sudden death.
That moment when I felt a jolt through my body? That’s the exact moment it passed into my lungs and I dodged death. Am I being dramatic enough for you?
Anyway, I was on blood thinners for several years and had to get my blood tested on a regular basis. Never happened again. Knock on wood.
But here’s the question. Why did it happen in the first place? They tested me for everything under the sun that may have caused my blood clots. I had ultrasounds, body scans, you name it, but came up completely empty. I never got an answer.
Well…last night I think I got my answer.
A study was recently completed and the results said that “Patients with celiac disease (CD) might be at an increased risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE) due to chronic inflammation and vitamin deficiency.” VTE is what leads to blood clotting, which is what leads to PE.
Sure, the data doesn’t prove it 100% just yet. But honestly, say no more. I’m convinced.
So seriously folks, be aware of the symptoms of a pulmonary embolism. The life you save may be your own.