Pulmonary Embolism: Don’t Panic

It all started with a pain in my leg. After days of walking around on, what I thought to be a pulled muscle, I decided to self-diagnose. I visited page after page of symptom checkers and many fretful hours later I concluded that I had deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). Now, I have to admit that this is not uncommon for me. I am constantly telling people that they are idiots when they have given themselves a diagnosis based on something they read online, however this has not stopped me from convincing myself that I have had every ailment under the sun. Stuffy nose and low grade fever ? Why YES! I do have Ebola! Hacking cough and pain in the chest? How the hell did I get Leprosy? As you can see, I took my own DVT diagnosis with a grain of salt.

It wasn’t until later in the day when I came home from work that I started to really worry. My parents were at my house watching the kids and my Mom’s first reaction to my leg pain was “Oh My God! It must be a blood clot!” (After all, I get my medical knowledge from somewhere). My dad told us we were both ridiculous but as the night wore on I decided to call a medical hotline. To make a long story short, they told me to get my ass to the hospital ASAP.

The doctors in the ER said it was unlikely that I had DVT but treated me for it to be on the safe side. The sonogram technician said it was unlikely that I had a DVT but, much to everyone’s surprise, they were wrong! Finally- I was vindicated! One of my diagnoses is right! But, oh shit, I don’t want to be right!

I was sent to a specialist who checked me thoroughly and was ready to send me home with blood thinners and a stern warning to rest, when I casually mentioned how I pulled my rib muscles rolling cinnamon buns on Christmas Eve. He stopped in his tracks and asked if the pulled muscle had caused trouble breathing.  “Yes…..” I answered.

“And have you had shortness of breath since then?” he asked

“MmmHmmm…” I said. I could see where he was going with this and I didn’t like the direction he was heading.

“How on Earth could a young, healthy woman pull a muscle while rolling buns? I have rolled pastry many times and never pulled anything! And you couldn’t breathe after? Couldn’t even move you said? This didn’t seem odd to you?” He continued to lambaste me (in an albeit joking way) and then reassured me that he wasn’t angry with me, but with the doctors who failed to diagnose me with a Pulmonary Embolism (PE). Perhaps I wasn’t such a sleuth of internal medicine after all.

After many phone calls and consultations he sent me for a heart sonogram which showed that the embolism was causing stress on my heart. I was admitted to hospital and told that I would be there for at least 4-5 very long, scary, painful days.

And so begins my journey to learn how to relax. This may be something that is easily achieved by many, but has always been foreign to me. I have the attention span of a gnat and prefer to be in perpetual motion. How am I supposed to sit still in a hospital bed for a week (4-5 days feels like a week to me!) let alone take it easy at home for 6 months? Me, who sees a mark on the window and starts to clean it, then gets distracted by the pretty Robin outside and runs to get my camera, but on the way spots a cookbook and decides to look up a recipe for summer rolls, then realizes I don’t have the ingredients so grabs the keys and heads to the car in the garage, but once there is frustrated by all the clutter and decides to start cleaning and, well, I think you get the point.

From all of this (and some encouragement from some wonderful friends) “The ADHDers Guide to Relaxing” was born. Join me on my quest to learn how to sit back, leave the spot on the window be, and enjoy just simply watching the Robin do his thing!


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