My Problems With The Pill | Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clots)

Monday, 1 August 2016

This is a very different post for me, as this really revolves around me and my personal situations so I'm a little nervous about posting this. I was involved in some blogger chats recently and after briefly touching on the subject, I felt that maybe I should do a blog post on this, not to get sympathy from anyone, but more to raise awareness on the issues that the contraceptive pill can cause. This is going to be quite the essay so get comfy.

Back in November 2015, there was a Friday after work when I felt a little bogged down but I put it down to the fact that it was a long week and I had worked a near 12 hour day and I was just tired. I got home, had dinner and then went to bed, pretty average for a Friday night nowadays. But the next morning was the start of my life for the next 6 months. My body felt a little achy but as I proceeded to get out of bed and do a classic morning stretch, I had the worst pain on my left hand side ever. It felt as though something was restricted and couldn't do what it usually could. I would take a deep breath (although I couldn't even do that deep) and I just had this overwhelming pain and it would make me breathless, like someone was cutting off my airways. For so long, I thought I might have had a bladder infection or something as the pain when I'd stretch was so similar but the breathing part just didn't quite add up.

I proceed to carry on my day, went over to a friends house for dinner and games but after a while, I didn't have to breathe too hard for it to start hurting, to the point where I was holding my hand over the area, sitting in an awkward position just to ease the pain. Come Sunday, the pain was still there, still not being able to breathe deeply and spent most of it in bed. By this point, I just knew that something wasn't right.

Monday morning was here and I thought that I should go to my doctors to check it out. I'd rather he say it was something small and treatable than to ignore it and it be something really bad. I called for an appointment at 8am, called my work to say I wasn't going to be in and likely that I'll be fine and I'd be in the next day. My appointment was at 11:20am so I had to just wait around but the pains were still there but luckily, didn't feel worse than the day before. I asked my sister to come with me, just for support but as the time gets closer to 11am, I just wanted this to be over with. I get called in, I explain to my doctor how I've been feeling, where it hurts etc. and he proceeded to do his checks. He checked my pulse (which was a little high for a resting rate, can't remember exact number) and uses a stethoscope on my back to hear if there was anything unusual. Once the assessment was done, he suggests that I go to the hospital because he has a suspicion on what it is. He calls the nearest hospital to tell them that I'm coming, gives me the name of the ward I need to find and to get there ASAP.

As I don't drive and no one was around to give me a lift, I travelled an hour (doctors to hospital) via public transport and from the walking, I started to feel quite breathless. It just felt like such a struggle to only walk for 10-20 minutes, bearing in mind I do it often when I walk to work. I got to the hospital around 2pm, found the ward I needed to be at and waited around to be seen.

I started off with some blood tests, an X-ray of my chest and an ECG to check on my heart. The nurse also asked me the typical questions, just for records sake. I waited around for quite a long time, with my poor sister still with me but eventually, I was told that based on blood tests and the scan, it does appear that I have blood clots on my lungs but they want to do more tests to fully understand. I really wasn't expecting this news. They immediately started treatment by injecting me with tinzaparin in my tummy, which is a blood thinner. They then wheeled me to my ward where I was going to be staying. I told my family, my boyfriend and my boss as I no longer was able to go to work the next day like I thought I would. It was now about 7/8pm and my sister was still with me and as it was winter, it was already dark and the walk to the train station was about 20 minutes away and I had no overnight stuff with me! My boyfriend kindly drove to my house to pick up some essentials for me, made his way over to the hospital and did an exchange of my sister for my stuff, said our goodnights and I was then left alone for the night. I couldn't sleep for so long. The lady next to me kept getting out of bed, wondering around and just the general thoughts going through my head of what I was told just hours before.

After eventually falling asleep around 1am, I was woken at about 6am for my temperature and pulse check, fell back asleep for a bit and they turned the lights on for the start of the day. I had cereal and tea for breakfast, had a shower and was ready for what the day was going to bring. I had some doctors and nurses come round to let me know the tests I needed to have so they put a cannula in my hand (first attempt in my arm didn't work) ready for the first test. Some of the other ladies started to chat to me and they were so lovely, making me feel a little more comfortable but as they started getting their visitors, I was so lonely as no one was able to come and see me. But one of the ladies husbands would chat with me, just so I had someone to talk to.

The first test I had was a Ventilation-perfusion scan, which is used to examine the flow of air and blood into my lungs. If there was air supply but limited blood, it may result in a pulmonary embolism. To check the air, I inhaled a gas (which was slightly radioactive but totally harmless if you don't have a lot) so that the scan could pick up where the gas was flowing. They had to do it from the left, centre and right side to get all angles, which took about 5 minutes a time. Once they had done that, they did the same through the blood, by injecting me with a radioactive liquid (again, harmless if in small amounts). I had to have one re-done as I think I moved a little bit as it came out fuzzy (oops) but after about 45 minutes - 1 hour, I was done and wheeled back to my ward. I then had lunch, watched some TV for a bit and after waiting a couple of hours, I was told that the results from the Ventilation-perfusion scan had come back inconclusive and therefore, I needed to have another scan to help determine the full extent of my problem. I was gutted.

So they had to put another cannula in my other arm for the next scan but had a bit of a dilemma with it because my arm started spewing out a lot of blood. It was down my arm, all over the pillow, bedding and I think it even reached the floor and the walls (no idea how it got there) but I started really freaking out, crying and all I wanted was someone there to comfort me. I had dinner and my second injection and shortly after, my boyfriend came to visit me that evening, but whilst he was there, they said that they could squeeze me in for my CT scan so off I was wheeled for that one. Similar to the Ventilation-perfusion scan, they inject a dye through the cannula and the scan will pick it up. If there is a pulmonary embolism present, it'll show up as a gap in the scan. After chatting with my boyfriend for sometime about everything that's been going on, a doctor came round and confirmed that I had multiple pulmonary embolism, meaning that I actually had it on both lungs, not just the one. Based on that, they wanted me to stay in overnight again as they wanted to confirm if I needed anything further or if, based on the results alone, they were happy in the diagnosis. My boyfriend had to leave me for the night, as he was really hoping to have been able to take me home, so we said our goodnights and off he went. That night was a bit of a tough one as I was just so emotionally and medically drained. It also didn't help that a new lady was wheeled into the ward at silly AM and everytime she would move her arm, this machine would beep until a nurse would shut it off. This happened countless times in the night that I had little to no sleep. It was horrible.

It was Wednesday and a new day and hoping that it was going to be the end of being in the hospital. I had my breakfast, the lady was beeping every 2-5 minutes and I was just waiting around to see what was going to happen to me next. Even though the lovely lady (who had the nice chatty husband) was moved, he even came round to check to see how I was and despite that I had no idea who he was when I first went to hospital, it's so nice to see that people can be like that in this day in age. After waiting, eating lunch, having my cannula's removed, I was eventually told that I could go home and doctors would be round in a bit to explain what was found and the plan for me.

The doctors had told me that my blood clots was very likely to have been caused from the contraceptive pill that I was only on for about 5 months. They never went into detail about what element it was but likely to have been a hormone that my body couldn't handle very well. They then went on to explain my method of treatment. I was to continue to have the injection up until Friday, but start taking medication called Warfarin from Friday to Sunday and have a blood test on Monday, where they will tell me whether the dosage of Warfarin I'm on is right. This is called INR (International Normalised Ratio), which is used to determine the clotting tendency of blood. I then had to continue taking Warfarin everyday for 6 months.

After leaving the hospital, I had to have regular blood tests to ensure that the INR level was right. I had one a week for about a month which then led to become every 2 weeks to a month as I got toward the end of my treatment but it would vary depending on the result. If they saw that the result was too high, my dosage needed to be lower in mg (I was given a packet of 1mg, 3mg and 5mg tablets and had to buy more when I needed them) and vice versa. I then had to have various tests after to make sure nothing was developing further and that the blood clots hadn't come back and/or wasn't affecting my breathing or heart. In December, I had a CT scan on my abdomen to make sure the blood clots hadn't caused problems there. I also had an Echocardiogram appointment a few days after to check my heart was ok and no clots were forming there. Although the CT scan had actually shown I had an ovarian cysts, both scans showed that everything was ok and running smoothly. In February, I then paid a visit to the Respiratory clinic, where I had to breathe into this tube so they could see how my lungs were performing after the blood clots, hopefully seeing that my lung capacity was of a healthy standard.

It gets to the end of May and I stop taking my Warfarin, as I need to have a blood test to see if I'm okay to not be on it anymore so I have to give it a month and I have the big blood test, called a Thrombophilia screen. They take about 6 tubes of blood where they perform various tests, which would then determine if I am able to not be on Warfarin anymore. After waiting for 2/3 weeks, I got the result and I got the all clear. I was so happy that I cried. This part of my life is now over and I can start being myself again, not having to constantly worry that the pains I randomly get are due to more blood clots forming. It's over.

Due to the fact that this was caused from the contraceptive pill and reading other peoples experiences, I think it needs to be looked into further. Seeing that there has been an increase in people developing these blood clots, and sadly seeing some being fatal, something needs to be done about it, as it's peoples lives at risk. My thoughts? I think as soon as someone starts the pill, they need to be monitored through the blood tests I had and if they notice the results becoming abnormal, then it's likely that they shouldn't be on the pill and need to look into other methods. That way, it's being dealt with a lot sooner than for people like me, who had no idea that it was going on. It's amazing how quickly the human body can react to things like this, so it's important that we react quickly to it. It's listed as being a negative point on various websites but I almost have the impression that people don't take it seriously enough, which I why I hope that this post has given much more of an insight on how serious this can actually be and more to help people understand the process and treatment when you've had blood clots.

Like I've said above, there have been sad stories of people passing away from the blood clots, because they didn't know about it or their doctor just gave them antibiotics in hopes that they will just get better over time and it makes me think of how close I was to that situation. I'm so glad that I took it upon myself to get looked at by the doctor and that he actually did something about it. I'm very grateful to everyone who has supported me during these really tough months and I've just started looking at living life to the full, because you just have no idea how quickly it can go from you.

Have you had any experiences like this? Do you think more needs to be done to raise awareness? I'd love to hear from you.

Look after yourself,

This blog post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own and honest!

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  1. Oh my goodness this sounds so scary, I'm so sorry you had to go through that :( you're so brave! Thank you for writing this and helping to raise awareness on things like this <3 Xx

    1. Thanks Lauren for reading this post, means a lot. I hope that this gives people an insight into what they have to go through if they are diagnosed with it, because when I did, I was scrambling online to see if people have written up their experiences so I would know what to expect. xo

  2. This is very personal and terrifying. I'm glad you shared this because it might help another person. :)

    S .x

    1. Thank you Sam, I really appreciate your feedback. I hope that it just helps people who might be going through it, to just know what types of things happen during diagnosis + treatment, as I didn't really find anything like this. xo

  3. Thank you for sharing this. Amazing post! I think it's so important for people to read stories like these before jumping into taking the contraceptive pill. I was prescribed the contraceptive pill from my GP with no talk about anything to do with blood clots, side effects or danger signs to look out for. Luckily my partner is a nurse and was able to fill in the blanks but it just makes me think about the younger people that are prescribed the contraceptive pill and have no idea about the signs things aren't going ok..

  4. So glad for thus post. I'm currently in the hospital with blood clots more than likely from being on the pill for 10 years and possibly from lupus. They haven't found out yet

  5. To be honest I hate that I take the pill because I have no idea what it's doing to my body but other contraception doesn't work for me and obviously it's safer than nothing.